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The Crit & The Spiders

326I’ve never been so close to a peloton.  My previous record was the distance to my television set while watching the Tour de France, and seeing a live peloton for the first time at last week’s 2010 Toronto Criterium at the St. Lawrence Market blew me away – almost literally.

During the race, I kept feeling gusts of wind.  After a couple laps, I realized they only blew when the riders came around.  It was the peloton’s draft and it was just one of many revelations I enjoyed at The Crit.

The first revelation happened before I got to the race.  Thinking it only proper to ride a bike to a bicycle race, I pedaled down the path along the Don River.  It gets narrow at times, with grass and bushes pushing in from the sides.  Passing is difficult so I looked forward to an unhurried pace.  Problem is, not everyone looks forward to the same thing.

About half a km from the turn west into downtown, I noticed a rider in full regalia: matching cycling shirt and shorts with all the advertising, gloves, clip-on shoes, everything; pull up behind me.  I figure if they’ve gone to all that expense, they don’t want to wait for my slow carcass.  I tried to get over to the right as far as I could, but it was an especially narrow bit.

When I looked again into my rearview there was a second rider, wearing the same outfit as the first.  Man, I gotta get out of their way fast.
But they didn’t pressure me.  They stayed back a polite distance for some time.  It wasn’t until we were pointed downtown that a suitable opportunity presented itself and the polite riders in natty attire pulled out to pass.

Revelation Alert: as they passed, I was surprised to see they sported the livery of the SpiderTech Powered by Planet Energy bicycle racing team – the same team that provided competition for Lance in this year’s Tour of California.

Do your worlds ever collide?  I write web copy for Nucap Medical, the developer and manufacturer of “the SpiderTech line of pre-cut kinesiology tapes”.  Every month I write about SpiderTech.  There’s not much I don’t know about the product – improves lymphatic flow, improves circulation, reduces pain, allows a full range of motion during injury rehab, the consistency of human skin (wrote all that with my eyes closed.)

So as I’m on my happy Sunday cycle to the races, my work world pedals by on bikes worth ten times mine.

And it made my day.

I spoke briefly with the riders at the next intersection and they invited me to watch them race in the Crit.  Imagine that.  Now I get to cheer for the very thing that brings the pizza delivery man to my door.
Like I said, that was the first of many revelations on a very pleasant Sunday. I met up with my niece, we were able to walk around the entire course, twice; stopping to take photos every time the riders lapped.  Leisurely, uncrowded – and so close you could feel the draft.

The last surprise belonged to the Spider boys too as they ended up finishing, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th.  While they may be in a different league, I know other riders appreciated the opportunity to compete against top-flight racers.

As a spectator?  Well, me and the boys rode down to the race together, so, yeah, it was cool.  I’ve seen motorcycles race at Mosport and I’ve been to the Indy at least three times, but if I had to pick, it would be The Crit & The Spiders.

Posted: June 6th, 2010
Filed under: Cycling Events | 2 Comments »