Sunday, June 17, 2012

Riding with the Big Boys

After several months of following the exploits of the only professional Canadian cycling team, Team SpiderTech p/b C10, very closely, I decided to do more than cheer for them and tweet about them, and elected to join their VIP Club.
That led to an invitation to participate in Team SpiderTech's "Ride with the Pros" VIP / Sponsor day. It was held yesterday, May 5th, and it was a fantastic event. 
Out of 70 or so guests, I was the ONLY WOMAN. All other women (less than 10 total) were connected to the event, including Josée Larocque, co-founder of the team with Steve Bauer (Silver medal for Canada at LA Olympics in '84, yellow jersey at TDF etc.). The event was pretty spectacular, as it is (1) an appreciation day for sponsors, and (2) an opportunity for Bauer & company to network and try to find more sponsorship money. It was therefore a gathering of a group of successful businessmen (some of the business elite of Toronto), who also share my appreciation of cycling and of what Steve, Josée and their acolytes are building.
The riding was nice and hilly (short, punchy hills - a fair number of them...), and as expected, too fast for me. But the pros were just that, and catered well to everyone in the crowd. I got to ride and chat at length with Guillaume Boivin (currently ranked 4th on European circuit), Zach Bell (Canada's hope for gold in London on the track), Frank Parisien (funny guy!), Pat McCarty (KOM at ATOC last year), Martin Gilbert ("the other Gilbert"), Will Routley, who recently finished 10th in the GC at Tour of Turkey, and a couple more. Lucas Euser wasn't there as he was already in California, training for ATOC. 
Oh - and for about 3km leading to the feed zone, I rode with a little group of five, which included Josée, Steve Bauer and Guillaume Boivin. I have to say that sitting on Steve's and Guillaume's wheels for a few kilometres was a helluva thrill for this cycling fan!
Josée and I, plus one or two others, rode at the back, and The Boys dropped us like a ton of bricks. After the feed zone, the group split, with Steve and the majority going for another 50km, while our group of about 30 (including Will Routley) came back to the event venue. 
One of the guests, who was ill suited to hill climbing, abandoned on the last hill, and got in the car. I managed to climb all the hills - albeit at my slow, steady pace, and didn't embarrass myself too badly.
The post-ride BBQ was pleasant - though a few more women would have made it a bit more.... "comfortable". But it was loads of fun, and I certainly hope to be able to do this again next year. 
In the mean time - Go Spiders! :)

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