Sunday, May 24, 2015


Author:  Leon Matz

Day 4:                After climbing for three days in a row and then driving to Toronto area I needed a rest day.  I wish I had 3 days but travel plans would prevent that. I mostly stayed around my hotel room and wrote up some of my blog posts. A Toronto friend that I met when I raced in Italy in 2013 took me and a friend to drive the ride route to get a feel for it. In 54 miles, it gains 4,400 feet so lots of rollers and some 12-15% pitches.  Unfortunately, pretty heavy wind was forecasted and ½ the course was fairly new chip seal. Not so new that there was lots of loose gravel, but new enough that there were no smooth patches to ride on.  Not sure why, but the older I get the more my distaste for chip seal grows.  

Day 5:                As most of you know, I am a morning person.  It was real strange waiting until 1 p.m. to race. After a nice breakfast, I did some reading and again worked on some of my blog posts. About noon I headed up to Blue Mountain which is the ski resort just outside Collingwood, Ontario where the race was to start.  In the parking lot, I ran into Mark McCarthy, a guy I had raced against in Italy. He is a terrific climber and - in fact - holds the record for my age group climbing up Mt. Washington.  He did it in 1:13.41 and beat the old record of 1:20.08. To give you some perspective, the fastest guy of any age group last year was a guy from Denmark who went up in 52:53. My time the other day was 1:43. Needless to say he is real fit and real fast. I went out for a short ride to warm up my legs and my heart to the hard work that was ahead of me.  

I decided to ride the race with one large bottle and remove my second cage and carry one small water bottle in my back pocket. In the first 5 miles, I was with the main group and doing fine. Soon I noticed my bottle almost jumping out of the cage and then realized one of the bolts had come out. I salvaged the bottle and put it in one of my back pockets. Soon the other bolt came out and my bottle cage went flying to the road.  At about mi 10, I was dropped by the main group. That was very disheartening since I knew my pace would slow with no one to help break the wind for me. I also knew that I would never see the main group again. My only hope was that others in my age group would not be able to keep the pace and I could catch them. For the next 20 miles I road by myself and struggled with the head winds and the chip sealed roads. I tried to not be discouraged and lowered my effort by focusing on keeping my heart rate just below lactate threshold. Eventually, I was caught by some women that had started 5 min. after the 50-65 men.  I finally found a gal who was about my speed, and we started to work together. We stayed together for the next 18 miles. With about 6 miles, left she started to slow; and I could see some single riders ahead of me.  I left her to pursue them.  I caught and passed 6 more riders.  Several of the riders commented about "where did you come from?" I felt real strong and probably could have caught some more riders if the race had been longer than the 54 miles. Endurance has always been one of my strengths. I finished with a 17.5 mph average which I thought was pretty good considering 4,400 ft of climbing, riding alone in the wind, and chip seal for much of the ride. I felt good about how I finished, but 6th of 7 riders in my age group will not get me to Amateur Worlds. Strangely, I beat a number of riders in the age groups below mine.

The quality of riders that are coming to this event is clearly improving. Steve Bauer a former Olympic medalist for Canada and a member of the old 7-11 race team was there competing in the 50-54 age group (which he won).  In my 65+ age group Mark McCarthy was first.  2nd place went to John Warnock who holds the 24 hour record for his age group for Canada. The guy who finished 1:55 ahead of me (Michael Patterson was a member of the 2013 70+ age group world record holders for RAAM.  Obviously, I am not that caliber of a rider.  I am sure that, if I hadn't gone to New England and done 6 climbs before coming here, I would have done better but still would not have qualified. I did finish ahead of a rider I had raced against in Trento who was beating me when I had my mechanical failure in 2013.

If I could have stayed with the main group for a ½ mi. more up that last little hill, I think I could have stayed with them in the next 5 mile section into the wind.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t rested enough, and it was the best I could do. 

The trip overall was a tremendous success and a heck of a lot of fun.  I saw some incredibly beautiful places and was able to climb some incredible hill climbs. I met some delightfully friendly people here in Canada and go home feeling enriched by the experience and excited to join my cycling friends in Puyallup.


ADDENDUM (5/29/2015):
I few of you e-mailed me some questions about my 100 climbs.  Here is the info:
I contacted John Summerson (author of the book that details the climbs) and as far as he knows he and I are the only people that have done the 100 climbs. There may indeed be others but no one else has contacted him. I hope that there are others that take on this challenge. It was a great way to see  many very different and beautiful places in the U.S.  Many of the places (e.g. Death Valley) I probably would not have chosen to visit if it hadn’t been for his book.

I had the wonderful fortune of having the following Cyclopaths join me on at least one of my climbs: Mike Smith, Mike Hassur, Wayne DuPont, Scott Larson and Conor Collins.  It was always extra special to have another Cyclopath join me on a climb!

Last night I totaled up the miles and elevation gained for the 100 climbs and found I traveled 3,324 miles going up and down the climbs and climbed 458,455 ft.   That would be like doing the elevation from Puyallup to the top of Mt. Rainier about 33 times.  Sounds pretty crazy to think of it in those terms!


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