Race report: Freezing weather takes its toll

Bike racing is hard enough when it’s nice outside. Throw in near-freezing temperatures, strong winds and rain, and it becomes one of the toughest sports in the world.

Not only do the riders spend hours suffering on the bike, they do it in all weathers: The Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery men got a serious dose this weekend at the epic Lake of Bays race near Huntsville, Ont., where the 170-km elite men’s road race turned into a struggle for survival — just 13 riders finished.

JS Perron

JS Perron

Here’s JS Perron’s take on a tough day in the saddle.

Sweet rolling hills and some really cool spots with twisty and narrow roads. Also, the 170-km distance made the race interesting since there’s not a lot of races that length arround.
EPIC! Two degrees with some melting snow. Milan-Sanremo style.
  • Conor O’Brien: Almost made the split 90 km in.
  • Braydon Bourne: Nice jamming from the start, but he had to quit after 70 km with frozen hands
  • Steve Keeping: Was jamming with dish gloves and plastic bags on until the first feed zone.
  • JS: Had to quit at 150 km when I realised that my body was shaking so much that I was not able to ride straight. I was with the front group with 15 riders at that time. The most difficult was to eat. After two hours of racing my hands were so cold that reaching into my pockets and unwrapping energy bars or gels was not possible. I think my body was not able to heat itself because of lack of nutrition: “the wood was all consumed in the stove.”
None of the Stevens guys finished the race, but they all learned a little bit more about what their bodies can handle and how to prepare for the toughest conditions imaginable. Next up is the men’s race at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau on Saturday, May 20.