Steed 2015 Race Report – Eric Hung

A ‘lil of this, a ‘lil of thatall good!

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Photo: Scott Robarts

Intro Yo

“It’s not what you do but how you do it”

2015 is in the books and for me, it’s going to be a tough one to top. 12,000 km’s, 450+ hrs of riding, 250 rides and 155,000+ meters climbed (Yes I admit, I’m a Strava junkie) but those were just the results from enjoying the process. There wasn’t a ride that I didn’t looked forward to (well, besides one or two wet ones), my happy place is on the saddle, whichever one it may be that day and whichever goal I had for that ride. From my indoor

training sessions on Zwift and at TaG Cycling to BC Provincial Championships and the Whistler Granfondo Giro, to sufferfest training rides with fellow racers and social rides with the Steed Ride Club, to ripping the mountain bike trails with buddies and crazy CX cheering squads, they all had several things in common… bikes, lots of suffering and great people.

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Photo: Eric Hung

None of this good stuff would have happened without the truly tremendous support of my wife Tamara. We struck a compromise of 3 rides a week and I had to be the best father/husband the rest of the time. I milked it and she was good with it. 450 hrs of riding and I didn’t get tan lines (during a hot Vancouver Summer), this meant starting rides at 5am and finishing rides at 11pm. Here are some of the highlights…

BC Cat 3 Provincial Championships

So close yet so… well at least I didn’t lose any skin.

The 2015 Road Race Provincials were held at Hatzic Valley out in Mission. It was 4 laps of a 19km loop starting off with 5k of undulating hills, followed by 5k of dead flat road then hitting the 2k climb with a couple more km’s of punchy rollers right after, ending with 5k of downhill to the finish.

The first few laps were uneventful at best, fast forward to the last lap, the pace became painfully slow with everyone obviously conserving energy for the last hill climb. It was to the point where I was at the front and literally coasting and no one was passing me. With the approach to the hill coming up, Jake Cullen graciously rolled up to the front of the peloton and I took his wheel. He set a solid pace up the initial few hundred meters of the climb, which allowed me to settle in and pace myself. Half way up, the usual suspects were there, Jake peeled off and now we were all trying to fight for position without crossing the yellow line, and not taking too much wind. I dialed up the pressure a bit and up’d the pace to try and split the field… it worked, maybe too well, as at the top I had a 15m gap. This was it, either let up and rest, to prepare for a bunch sprint with 30 others or give it all I had and go into the pain cave for the next 7km. I looked back and I could see my buddy Ian Hendry from Glotman Simpson near the front of the chase. Knowing Ian well, I knew he had the legs in him to not only bridge to me but he would be a great partner in this sufferfest.

I made the decision, GO… go with everything I had! Like I’d hoped, Ian bridged the gap 500m later and with a simple nod, it was on. Having trained many hours together, taking turns at the front were seamless. We had a decent gap after the last punchy hill and now it was 5km of slight downhill averaging -2% grade, advantage peloton. Still we hammered, we were keeping the gap but I dare not look too often. With only 2km to go, I was running out of gas. Ian was now doing the heavy lifting, taking pulls twice as long as mine. 1km to go, still a decent gap. Ian was yelling at me like I’ve never heard him, I knew he wanted this as bad as I. We come out of the final bend, 500m to go, still a decent gap and we could see the finish. Dead straight, slight downhill and narrow, only room for 4 bikes wide with sprint elbows flailing. We start sprinting for the finish and with 20m to go the worst possible sight appears in my peripheral, other jersey’s!!! By 10m to go there are 4 or 5 passing us and I hear Ian yell in disappointment while banging his handle bars. No later than a second after that an even worst sight appears, Ian starts to go down, bikes start flying into the air and the sound of carbon and flesh hitting the ground overloads my senses. Since the chase group was going considerably faster than us at the finish line, they had to swerve around us and back in with only meters to go, Ian got cut off and caught up with another bike and went down hard. Luckily nothing more than a broken wheel and few weeks of very uncomfortable road rash.

We were gutted, so close to victory, in my mind it didn’t matter which one of us took the win if our break was successful, it would’ve been a win either way. We took a chance, it almost paid off and I would chalk it up to race experience and pull it out of the hat on a later date.

Valley GranFondo

Bridge the gap to an Olympian, make a deal and hang on for dear life!

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Photo: Steve Savage

The Valley GranFondo is a pretty social fondo since most of the first 100k of 160k is pancake flat. This makes for a massive lead group with experienced racers and weekend warriors mixed together. It’s not the most enjoyable as tensions are high and nerves overworked, touches of wheels are bound to happen with that many riders. Not much happened in the first 100k and since it was damp, the race director called for a neutral decent after the KOM which meant you could give’r and have a rest after. My strategy is always to start mid pack on these KOM’s to get a slight draft at the beginning and have the mental boost of picking off riders one by one. After about 5 minutes of pain, I was able to get 2nd place on this KOM and have time to fill out my water bottles at the top!

The next 15k were restful until the next bunch of 3 punchy climbs over a 10k span, Ohlund, Mt. Lehman and McTavish Roads. I wasn’t sure of my strategy, but going into it I thought the field would dwindle down to 20 or so after the climbs and there would be this select group of 20 that would sprint it out for the finish, just like in previous years. So my goal was to stay near the front and make this group.

After the first hill everyone was still together for the most part. Half way through the second hill, a gap formed and two had taken off, it was Zach Bell (Olympian/Canadian Champ/Pro racer) and Travis Streb (one of the fast local amateurs). With a moment to decide I thought, either I can give it everything I have and bridge the gap to two of the strongest guys in the field, or I can sit in the peloton like I do almost every other race and finish middle of the lead group. With the Provincial Championship race break experience fresh in my mind I made the split second decision to go for it. Out of the saddle, hammering at 450W-500W. Just catching them at the crest of the hill, for the next four or five minutes, I hold on to their draft for dear life, gasping for air. They were gracious enough not to attack me in these crucial minutes, but don’t get me wrong, the pace was still high. Having “recovered” from my bridging the gap, I try to take a few pulls in turn. Both Travis and Zach were taking huge pulls, 60 seconds at a time at what must have been 350-400W (as I was doing 250-300W in the draft at times), I was only able to muster 350W for 15 to 20 seconds until one of them overtake me as I was slowing them down. I looked down at my Garmin and saw that we still had 30km to go, my heart sank. I couldn’t keep this pace for another 45 minutes. Either I keep taking my turn at the front, with a 99% chance I bonk, get dropped and eaten up by the chase group or I break a deal with these guys. The deal is I tag along, help by taking a pull when I can and in return, don’t contest the finish. If I’m true to my word, they have nothing to lose, even if I take one pull out of every 5 of theirs, it still helps the collective stay away. So that’s what happens, we have a quick chat and they agree, I sit in for the most part, trying to save energy to make a 15-30 second pull every 3 or 4 rotations. The kilometers click away, it’s dead flat for the last 10km and i look back every few kilometers and can’t see the chase group. We are averaging close to 45km/h, these two are complete studs, I was impressed. Other than breaking the deal, there wasn’t a word exchanged, just elbow flicks, mostly by me. With about  4k to go it was Travis, me, then Zach. Travis was just about to finish his big pull and Zach jumped on the attack… hard. Travis had nothing left from his time at the front, so I tried desperately to catch Zach but no luck. There was a chance I could’ve kept that momentum going and left Travis behind but I couldn’t, Travis dug deep for the last 25k and I had benefitted from his work, I sat up and waved at him to bridge to me. I put in one last hard pull to try and sling shot him to Zach but to no avail. Zach took the win with Travis second and I rolled in at third, with huge credit going to them. The field sprinted in 20-30 seconds later with Steed green leading the charge as Steve Savage took the field sprint and 4th place.

After crashing out a year earlier to podium with an Olympian this year, it made all the training and family sacrifices somewhat worth it!

Tour de Victoria

Punchy hills and soigneur thrills

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Photo: Jeanine Avelino

One of my favorite courses on the race calendar, I always look forward to going to Victoria to race but also visit one of my best friends, Kevin, who now calls Victoria home. Kevin is one of those friends that you can see once a year or every couple years and it’s like you never missed a beat. The great thing is not only do we get to visit but he also loves to watch the race. This year was even better as two other long time buddies, Geoff and Brent also made the trip. They were my soigneurs! We looked at the race route and I prepared bottles for them, gave them a quick safety lesson on staying out of the way of the riders and how to best position themselves to hand the bottles off.

  •  Rule #1: Stay out of the way, let me come to you.
  •  Rule #2: Position yourself at the top of a hill so rider speeds are lower and success ?rate goes up.
  •  Rule #3: Have a spotter so I know what side to expect you on.
  •  Rule #4: Don’t stop for brunch and miss a crucial handoff point! ?They were on point with Rule’s 1-3, they broke Rule 4 but made up for it by adding a couple more impromptu feeds.

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Photo: Tamara Hung

In the end, the race split up quite early into a fairly elite group of 25 or so. It may have split up more but the lead group was paced by the police and after every hill on the descent, the cops would not allow us to go over 50km/h. This unfortunately allowed any stragglers to gun it on the downhill and catch up. With 10km to go on Dallas road, Cody Canning (raced for Canada last year at the Tour de Alberta) was up to his usual tactics of breaking off the front, like he did last year for the win. This year there was a bigger field that was able to reel him in. Cody breaks again with 500m to go, he’s gone. Six of us make a late surge in the last few zig zag like corners with no sprint finish as the last 100m is funnelled from 4 lanes to 1 making it sketchy to come around a guy wide for fear of constricting barriers. All in all, a fun day was had. I got to share it with some of my closest friends and they proved to be a huge part in my 5th place finish. I would’ve cramped into a big ball at the 120k mark for sure if it weren’t for them.

Whistler GranFondo – Giro

Big Guns = Big Efforts = Big Suffer

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Photo: Game Face Media

The whole season built up for the Giro race to Whistler. Knowing there was going to be big money involved ($50,000 purse, mainly going to the top 3 males and females) everyone knew a few of the pro teams would have representation which would make it painfully fast. It didn’t disappoint with 6 or 7 pro’s in the field and the top local fast men.

The race started relatively civil until the Furry Creek hill where the fireworks erupted. My plan was to stay in the lead group as long as possible, hope there was a break with only 4 or 5 select guys and cross the line with the chase group in the money (Top 20). I ripped up that game plan on the Furry Creek Hill, as attacks started to happen I was worried a larger break was going to form so I followed the attack. It wasn’t just one attack but one after the other by the fastest guys in the field. I was stoked to be able to hang on to this break of 10 but unfortunately it didn’t last as it all came back together on the next descent. I had spent my matches! For the next 30k I was able to sit in the group but near the top of the Alice Lake hill, in a blink of an eye, I lost contact with the top 15. In slow motion a 1m gap became 2m, became 5m, became 20m all within a few seconds. I ended up gathering with 10-15 others as the chase group. For the most part we work together until the last 5k where there were attack after attack, a couple get away and there is a bunch sprint for the last few spots in the money… I knab 20th place and pay for my race fee!

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Photo: Highshot.org

Cyclocross

#crossiscoming #crossbikeiscominglate #crossisawesome

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Photo: Jeanine Avelino

Having never done cross I was hesitant to get a CX bike, but halfway through the season I bit the bullet and got a new knobby tired whip. It was awesome… 45 minutes of pedal to the metal with the perfect balance between fitness and skill. But meshing the two together would be my challenge, and what a “laugh at yourself” process it was. With a few head over heels crashes, front wheel slide outs, and even a flagging tape/drivetrain incident that took me off the podium, it was all in the name of cross racing.

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Photo: Robert de Rot

Results

Road Racing

BC Championships Road Race Cat 3 – 6th Tour de Victoria – 6th?Penticton GranFondo – 14th?Whistler Giro GranFondo – 20th

Valley GranFondo – 3rd?Cypress Hill Climb Rotary Ride for Rescue – 4th Glotman Simpson Cypress Hill Climb – 9th

CycloCross

BC Championships CX Masters – 5th Junkyard Cross Intermediate – 4th Valley Cross Intermediate – 5th Castle Cross Intermediate – 5th