A small contingent of the Burris Logistics-Fit Werx cycling team ventured to La Prairie, Quebec to expand their cultural horizon, work on their tans, and get in some criterium racing. La Prairie is essentially a suburb of Montreal on the south side of the St Lawrence river. It was the location of this week's stop on the criterium heavy Quebec Cycling Federation calendar.
On the warmest day since March, Mike Burris, Phil Beliveau, and Bruce Bell, with passports and UCI licences in hand, went north to race a couple of the masters category races.
Phil and Bruce were up first in the Masters 50+ field. The medium size field was stacked with a Canadian National champion, the current leader of the provincial series, and the reigning world champion in several track disciplines along with their respective teams.
The race started fast and stayed that way for the 50 minute event. Phil and Bruce covered as many moves as possible and Phil put in a strong effort to stay away in the latter part of the race. Strong work by some of the local teams made it difficult for anything to stick without one of their guys in the break. As Phil was caught a counter attack launched the eventual winning break and again, good team riding foiled any chance of bringing them back. Immediately after finishing in the field, Phil and Bruce rolled up to the start line to race another 55 minute with Mike in the 40+ field.
The 40+ field started fast. Before any of us could get our bearings, a break went off the front. We all quickly realized that each guy in the break had a few team members in the bunch which left basically us to do the work to close the gap. Mike, still hanging in the back, hammered to the front to begin the charge. Philip and Mike exchanged pulls for a lap or two before realizing that the effort was futile. The break started with maybe 6-8 guys, but 4 or 5 got dropped from the surge and rejoined the group.
At this point the 40+ field slowed WAY down. We were disappointed to have missed the break, but were somewhat relieved at the easing of the pace as the temperatures crept into the 90s. With 5 laps to go, Mike launched a decent attack staying clear of the field for 4 laps before being gobbled up on the last lap. Knowing that the guys in the break already got the glory, there wasn't much of a final sprint.
With the 50+ and 40+ done, Bruce and Philip called it a day. Mike lined up for the 30+ race, although he was clearly hurting from his failed attempt to go clear of the field in the previous race. The 30+ race started fast and got faster. The temps were hot and got hotter. Mike hung in there for about 20 minutes before succumbing to the heat. Dizzy and dehydrated, he abandoned the race, found a shady spot under a tree, and covered himself with ice. Done.
All in all, it was good clean and fast racing. Racing in Quebec is always fun. The races are well run and the Canadians are very welcoming to Americans who make the trip. Plus, there were no lines at the toilets. The use of French by the officials and announcers always adds to the novelty of racing up there.