Catherine Bouchard ends at the top of the podium at Lake of Bays

Lake of Bays Road Race WINLake of Bays Road Race O-Cup #8

Aug 24, 2014

Last weekend, I travelled to the picturesque Muskoka region to enter the Lake of Bays Road Race. The course was a hilly 94 km and included some gravel action. I came away with the 1st place in the Masters A&B Category, my first ever win!

Sunday morning, the weather was perfect (much, much better than the previous year by all accounts). I had re-conned the course the previous day and my plan was to conserve as much energy as possible during the race so I could attack on the 8-km finish leg, which featured several climbs. I sat in at the back of the peloton and kept an eye on Elite 3 rider Thea Mizuhara from Lapdogs Cycling Club. I had a hunch she was going to attack at some point and thought I would like to be on a breakaway with her.

 

About 70 km in, Thea smoothly made her way from the back to the front of the peloton and sat quietly there for a few moments. I had a pretty good idea of what might happen next so I moved up carefully, trying to avoid raising suspicion. By the time I had reached the front, she was already a short distance from the peloton, casually sneaking away. I jumped, sprinting as fast as I could to bridge the gap. I glanced back after a few seconds, hoping I had not dragged the whole pack with me. To my surprise and amazement, we seemed to be getting away. As I began to close in on her, I shouted to her to GO! She turned the power on and we were gone! We stayed away for 3-4 kms, trading wheels every few hundred meters. However we had already lost some ground when came a uphill mud patch covered with loose gravel.  My rear wheel lost traction and I slowed right down. We were caught. I thought how ironic for a Wheeler to meet her demise at the hand of a gravel patch.

 

Back inside the head peloton, I focused on recovering, thinking I might still be able to carry on my initial plan of attacking in the final climbs. With 15 km to go, I had to slow down abruptly while going up a hill. I must have been in the middle of shifting because my chain dropped when I stood on the pedals again. I pulled out of the way and fixed my chain as the peloton gradually moved out of sight. This was not part of the plan, but thankfully, those girls were all Elite 3’s and Juniors and I was still ahead in my own race.

 

The Lake of Bays Road Race organisers, hosts and volunteers all did a fantastic job and I thank them for making this event possible and the great success it was.

 

As this may well have been my last race this season, I would also like to reiterate my gratitude to the West of Quebec Wheelers for your support and contribution in making my first racing season a highly positive and enjoyable experience!

 

Catherine Bouchard

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Wheeler comes in 4th at Ontario Provincials.

West of Quebec Wheeler Catherine Bouchard went on the war path again and took 4th place at the Ontario Provincials.  This picture was taken 100 meters from the finish line.  Nice work Catherine.  You are a force to be reckoned with.

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***Photo courtesy of Pat Pelda

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Race report of the Women’s UCI race at the Gatineau Grand Prix from Justine Clift

Justine Clift

There’s a scrap of duct tape on my stem with the word ‘belong’ written in Sharpie; a reminder to myself that I am where I need to be, that I have earned my place on the start line, and that the wheel in front of me is mine to hold. This past weekend brought me to the start line of my first UCI races, the GP Gatineau and the Chrono Gatineau time trial. With the invaluable help of the Wheelers, I was able to hold some fast wheels and gain some critical big race experience with a top-10 finish.

After a rainy pre-ride on Thursday, the Friday time trial was thankfully dry. It was a technical course, therefore I took it out conservatively, perhaps too much so, trying not to burn myself out on the first grinding uphill off the start line. After the first section I settled in, attempting to ride aggressively through the corners- one of which I definitely needed to be on the brakes for! Luckily, I saved this too-fast turn at the last second and came away satisfied with my overall effort and a 14th place finish in a field of over 40 riders.

Saturday’s 120km race has been re-told to me several times, and there was great online and live coverage. Due to the intensity of the effort, my experience is not very coherent but can be summarized as:

Laps 1-6: Move up, move up, move up. Corner, crash, chase, corner. Move up, move up, move up!
With the pace not high enough to string out the peleton, and corners almost every kilometre, it was messy off the start line! Lots of contact and a few crashes kept things interesting, to say the least.

Laps 7-8: Chase. Sit up. Chase for real.
The first significant break was caught at about 60km after Tibco went to the front to bring it back. In the counterattack that followed 5 girls got away, with all the big teams represented. I initially went to the front to initiate the chase, but around one of the roundabouts a gap opened up and I put my head down and kept going.

Laps 8-12: Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up.
I bridged to the break alone, making contact sooner than I expected. I committed fully to the effort knowing that I wouldn’t have anything left if we were caught. In hindsight, I should have been more strategic, because when it came down to the final kilometre, the moves happened quickly and my legs had nothing left to respond.

So it was 6th place for me- a result indicative of all the work I have done over the past year and a welcome reminder that I have earned my place in the peleton.

What a warm welcome to the Wheelers! Thanks again for all your support that made this experience possible for me and my teammates.

Pro-Elite Team 2014

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Race report from Fynn Schooley at the Grand Prix cyclistes de Brossard

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On may 4th at about twenty to one, I was lined up in the Gp cyclistes de Brossard. I was already soaked but really excited to ride the 1.5 km 5 corner course. It was my first race as a cadet in Quebec this year and I knew it would be a very competitive field. About fifty of us awaited the start of a hard 45 minute race in the rain. Right from the start I knew positioning was going to be key. I got right up in the first 10 in the peloton. It was a fast pace! There was a split in the peloton just 5 or so laps in. There were a few early attacks but nothing stuck. I found myself at the back of the peloton after my right foot unclipped from the pedal when I was sprinting out of a corner. I battled hard for three laps and made it back to the front safely. About 30 minutes into the race, Thierry Kirouac Marcassa attacked on the home straight. I jumped across and bridged the gap onto his wheel. Thierry was the overall winner of Mardis cyclistes de lachine last year. He won as a first year cadet. Finding myself on his wheel 50 metres ahead of the peloton going full gas gave me a good feeling about the season. Neither of us wanted to work together so we fell back to the group. At this point, I was soaked and really cold. I was looking forward to changing into my sweats and hoodie. But we still had another 10 minutes + 3 laps to do. I raced calmly at the front until 2 laps to go where I worked myself into a good position to sprint from. We came around the last corner into the home straight. At about 350 metres I was on the right of the group 4 back where I wanted to be. I had a good feeling. As I started my sprint which was early. The lead out of a sprinter of Laval espoirs followed cut in front of me. I had to slow down and sprint around them taking off later than the eventual winner. I made my way to tenth. My sprint had got blocked but at the end of the day I was happy with my performance in the race. I had done well in my first cadet race and learned a few things! Season’s in full swing now! Thank you to my dad for driving me to the race. Wouldn’t have “almost felt” like I had hypothermia without him!

                                 Fynn

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Catherine Bouchard’s race report from last weekend at Ste-Martine. This is the second race she has done, not of this season, but of her life. WOW!!!

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Grand Prix IGA  Ste-Martine Race Report

Here’s a short recap from my race at the Grand Prix IGA  Ste-Martine, on April 27, 2014.

For this race, all the women’s divisions were combined at the start line, and riding alongside the Elite teams felt somewhat surreal at first. The pace was high from the outset, with several attacks already taking place early in the first lap. I fought to keep my position near the front and out of wind, and jumped several times to catch riders that were trying to get away. In the second lap, the attacks were routinely followed by counter?attacks, which made it hard to recover.  I became expected to pull at some point and did so for a short while. Meanwhile, there were a lot of riders still sitting behind, and I knew the race hadn’t even started yet.

In the third lap, the peloton split. I caught up to a rider, and after resting on her wheel for a few seconds, I passed her so she could do the same.  Next thing I knew, there were a few of us now forming a small group. A few Kilometers later, we were down to four with the main peloton still in sight. One of the girls said “Come on let’s catch them”, and that’s when we really began to get organized and look after each other. We never caught up to the main peloton, but we echeloned our way to the finish line through two more laps. I came in fourth, just missing the podium, and was very happy about my race, especially the first half of it! I think this road race gave me a good taste of what’s ahead this season, and it won’t be easy!

Catherine Bouchard

Additional Comments From our Race Director, Rick Bourgeault

Well this being Catherine’s second race it was  important to keep things simple. Like most races for any racer my instructions to Catherine were to stay near the front and always try to find the center. This would keep her out of danger, keep her speed at a constant level and being centered would keep her sheltered from the wind. Ste Martine is always windy and this day was no different with strong steady 20 Km/h head winds!

Staging for the race Catherine was ready, positioned in the middle of the group and a bit nervous but eager.

So I was happy to see Catherine come by during the second lap in eighth position! Right where she should be. She continued to stay out of trouble until after the 4th  of 6 laps. As I suspected the Elite women started to push the pace and I knew it would be difficult for Catherine to counter moves made by the Elite teams.

In the end I was very happy to see Catherine do so well in such a difficult race this early in the season! The final numbers and results don’t always tell the whole story! Catherine has listened carefully, and she has made great strides in such a short period of time. Congratulations Catherine on your performance in a very difficult race!

I think as race director I was most pleased  after the race to see that other women, Elite women riding with her in the race came up to me to ask “Who was that new Wheeler?” I could not think of a better way to end such a difficult race day as  her peers complimented to me how impressive Catherine looked during the race. It was a source of great pride to me and the ladies were blown away when I told them that this was indeed Catherine’s second race ever as a Master 1! The Wheelers should be proud of her efforts as a Wheeler and the traditions of strength, honour, courage and grace in her pursuit of excellence!

Cheers!

Rick (Rico) Bourgeault

Race Director,

West of Quebec Wheelers

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