Centurion Horseshoe was another epic experience. I am no stranger to this event, yet my experience seems to be elevated year after year. The resorts nearby only allowed a minimum of 2 nights stay – no complaints from me! Arriving on Friday at Carriage Ridge Resort, we began an enjoyable long weekend of hiking, feasting, swimming, and some cycling of course.
The Centurion Horseshoe this year occurred on the same weekend and venue as the OCup Downhill. On Saturday before picking up the race package and checking out the ride expo, we took a quick look at the downhill course. There were definitely some technical rocky section near the end. After witnessing a few riders pre-ride the route, we realized they simply flew over the rocks! Forget about riding over them! We later did a short 10km pre-ride to loosen the legs. That 10km felt so hard. Uh oh!!
On Sunday after checkout, we rolled to the start area. Unlike previous years with a mass neutral start up Horseshoe Valley Rd Hill, the riders were led up the hill by OPP’s in small groups and collected at the start corral at the top of the hill. The pace categories at the corral weren’t really required since there weren’t enough riders and everyone just moved up to the front.
It took a while before the group began to spread out. I felt fantastic at the start, and by about 20km, my average was still above 30 kph, and I thought to myself, “Wow, I might score myself a PB … with absolutely no training!” Then a right turn at 26km and the suffering began, starting with a long hill that used to be part of King/Queen of the Mountain (KOM) in previous years. I watched my average speed plummet from here onwards. The route changed this year with a lot more hills. It got to the point where I was anxious at every turn because there seemed to be a climb after each one!!
The route was nonetheless amazing, riding along scenic roads with rows of trees on the side. At times, I felt like I was riding through a forest but on paved roads! I was playing yo-yo with several riders until after the mid-point when one of them complained to me, “Where’s the rest stop? I am out of water!!” Alas, the rest stop approached and he disappeared to gulp down some much needed liquid. I kept going and eventually caught up to a young boy with the most annoying squeaky Bianchi bike. I would pass him, only for him to pass me again …. and this kept repeating. His squeaky bike drove me insane!!!!! I couldn’t tell which was worst … his bike or the climbs.
Finally, the 5km countdown sign showed up!! Bianchi Boy seemed to notice that too and he put in more power to his pedal. I tried to match him as we kept yo-yo-ing our way to the finish. At the final 2km, he was ahead of me. I let him escape as my energy seemed drained at that point. The course showed no mercy with the last 1km being an uphill to the final sprint to the finish. He continued to stay ahead of me but at the final sprint at the top, I powered up with whatever I had left. Then to my disbelief, he slowed down a few seconds BEFORE the finish line. What??? I took full advantage of it and passed him, beating him by 2 milliseconds gun time. Sweet victory for me, sorry kid ……
I was completely exhausted after this ride as I wobbled to the lunch area. I plopped down on a chair with my food and didn’t even have the energy to eat. A seagull got to the grapes on my plate before I did. It was that sad.
Another awesome ending as a female in my category …. gotta love it!