This past Sunday, I competed in my largest event yet. Paris to Ancaster is a mixed-terrain cyclocross-like race that's been around for 23 years. It's a 70k point to point race, that goes from Paris, Ontario to Ancaster, a bit outside of Toronto. This year, there were 2,700 participants.
Chris participated as well. With his previous Virginia State Championship title, he was able to register in the Elite wave, which has the first start of the day. My wave was 15 minutes later, in Wave 1.
Right from the get go, I hit it hard. My wave had a couple hundred people in it, and I knew I had to get as close to the front of that wave as possible, or I'd be stuck waiting behind a long line of cyclists once the trail bottle-necked. There was a lot of weaving and taking of dirty turns, but about 5 miles in, I ended up finding a great group of guys to work with for most of the race.
The race is a mix of rail trail, gravel roads, singletrack, and pavement. We go through public roads and private farms. At one point, going through a farm, the owner said to us, "Mind the chicken." And sure enough, there was a chicken in the road! It was hilarious! Everyone was shouting "Chicken up!" instead of "Car up!"
The fast pace, fun people, and mixed terrain made this event one of my favorites! Sometimes you felt like you were in a road race, then a cyclocross race, and then even a mountain bike race.
I rode my Specialized Crux with the SRAM CX1 drivetrain (11-28 cassette) and Sram Force disc brakes. I had the Specialized Trigger Pro tire on the front and the Specialized Tracer Pro tire on the back; tubeless setup; 60psi both front and back. This tire combo and psi worked out perfectly. Both tires are low profile and roll quickly. Keeping the psi on the higher end made for no worries on any of the terrain. I felt like I was just floating over the gravel!
Though I suffered no mishaps during the race, Chris wasn't so lucky. A bit over halfway, Chris had a flat. Then, just 1.5 miles from the finish, down the infamous mud shoot, Chris took a rock drop at pretty decent speed and crashed. His front wheel had bent upon landing and laid him down. Fortunately he was OK albeit a bit muddy. His helmet did it's job in protecting his noggin.
For the most part, this is a flat race. It has a few rollers in it, but overall, I would call it flat. The very last part of it, to the finish line, though, is a steep climb. Being from Harrisonburg, I didn't think much of it, except that I was tired and had run out of spinning gear, so it felt hard trying to sprint to the finish. The crowd there was awesome! A bunch of people cheered me on as I passed a group of men.
My finish time was 2:22:15 with an average speed of 28.9km/hr. I finished 8th overall in the women's field of 134 (that's right, out of 2,700 people there were only 134 women!), 3rd in my 20-29 age group, and 187th out of the entire field. I am so excited about my performance in this race. Next year, I will most likely be able to start in the elite wave because of where I placed in the women's field, which is very exciting! I can't wait!
For anyone interested, you can click this link http://parisancaster.com/ to learn more about Paris to Ancaster.
Here is a link to my STRAVA of the race: https://www.strava.com/activities/555768069