Mike Woods Checks In From the Tour de Beauce

Mike Woods of the Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery men’s team is racing in the Tour de Beauce with Canadian National Team. The Tour de Beauce is a six-stage stage race that attracts some of the top professional riders in North America. Mike has provided us with a report from Stage 3 of the race – the infamous Lac Megantic stage.

Well it wouldn’t be a true stage race if I didn’t have a good old-fashioned crash. After surviving the last two stages unscathed, going into today’s race, I was far less concerned about crashing. Being a 160k race with several large climbs, including Mont Megantic (the highest paved road in Eastern Canada), buffering our speed, and on strict orders to hang out in the peloton and wait for the biggest climb I had yet to tackle, I thought that a crash would not be likely. I was pretty accurate in this prediction, for the first 150k of the race.

We kicked off stage three of Tour de Beauce from our hotel parking lot. This was a great change in pace, as for the last two stages we had to drive over 40 minutes to our start/finish location. Starting from our front door allowed for an extra bit of shut-eye, and a nice relaxed start to the day. For the first 40k of the race, I surfed around the front, watching as the break formed. This was a fun experience as it allowed me to work on my ability to move around the field. after some very hard work, my teammate, Nic Hamilton, was able to get in a much deserved break away. This allowed our crew to just relax, and hang out in the field for the next 90km. At the 130K mark, things really started to heat up.

With several significant rolling hills leading up to the final climb, riders were pushing hard to find their way to the front of the peloton. I was very happy with how I placed myself throughout this race, and as we came into the start of the climb, I was in a good position to move to the front. Just as I moved to the outside of the peloton, to start the climb, I looked to my side for a brief moment, and as I did this, a rider in front of me, swung hard to the right, and his rear wheel hit my front wheel. This was definitely my fault, as I did not have my eyes on the wheel ahead. This collision put me way off balance, and I went down. Because we were climbing, we were travelling pretty slow, and the initial fall did not hurt, however, immediately after my fall, I felt a large weight crash into my ribs.

As I peeled myself off the ground, I realized this impact to my side was caused by a rider from Louis Garneau riding over my body with his bike (this was unavoidable on his part). This sent him to the ground as well, and resulted in him swearing like a sailor. These curses were all directed at me, but at that moment, I could care less; my mind was 200m up the road with the leaders. In a massive surge of adrenaline, I jumped up from the pavement, threw the Garneau bike off of my precious Xenon (the two bikes were entangled), and jumped back on the saddle. Stuart Wight, who has been providing incredible team support, saw the crash as he was riding right behind me, and he stopped in order to help me out. I was so revved after the crash, I went into this out-of-body mode, void of pain, that was completely fueled by rage. I was super angry at myself, and were it not for Stuart telling me to “stay calm” I likely would not have been able to get my shoes clipped back into the pedals. With Stu’s guidance I clipped back in, and pedaled as hard as I possibly could, dodging shrapnel (guys who had been dropped) from the lead group ahead. After 2 km of climbing I was able to get within a minute of the lead group, however, I also began to realize the damage to my bike that was incurred from the crash. My derailer hanger had been bent, and every time I shifted up to the higher gears, my derailer would go into the spokes of my wheel. This forced me to push a bigger gear for the remainder of the 6k, category 1, climb. Crashing aside, I was very happy with how strong I felt, and I was able to claw my way up to a 14th place on the stage, and move into the 13th place on the general classification. There being a time trial tomorrow–my weakest discipline–this high position in the GC will certainly be short-lived, but I will try to mitigate my losses tomorrow, and get ready for two more hard, hilly days of riding on the weekend.

Post race I was pulled into drug testing. It is normally a pretty unpleasant experience having somebody watch you urinate, but I took this one as a good sign; if I am riding fast enough to get tested, I am riding well. Also, since I have just taken this drug test, to all of those haters out there, I would like to release this official statement:
“I (Mike Woods) have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 12 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 20 drug tests and never failed one.” (Zing!)