Race report: Travelling St. John adds Bowness to palmares

Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery’s Derrick St. John was visiting family in Alberta last weekend and while he was there he took part in the Tour de Bowness stage race. St. John tells the story.

Derrick St. John.

Derrick St. John.

Part of the reason I started racing was to experience adventure and ride my bike indifferent parts of the world, and the Tour de Bowness in Calgary did not let me down. The Tour was a three-day omnium, including a 132-km road race just out side of Calgary in Cochrane, a 1.2 km hill climb up the Calgary Olympic Parc drive beside the bobsled track, and a 45-lap criterium in downtown Bowness.

Road Race — Aug. 3, 2013
Horse Creek (Cochrane)
The race started off painfully slow, I resisted the urge to attack and the attacks started about 15 km in. I marked three teams that I thought would play in the overall, and it just so happened that the third group to get away had members of two of three teams. So I waited for the hill and went hard to get across. We rolled like mad into a blistering prairie crosswind and managed to hold our gap until the end. The Trek Red Truck Team had a lot of guys chasing, so Bailey McKnight was able to play the card of sitting on, especially when two of his teammates were in a group that closed the gap to our break to 30 seconds. Kris Dahl (H&R Block), myself and a dude from RMCC Racing put the hammer down to stay away. I attacked with about 3 km to go and Bailey followed, we sprinted for the line and as his legs were freshest nipped me by a few inches for the win.

Hill Climb — Aug. 4, 2013
Canada Olympic Park (Calgary)
Luckily I stumbled upon the hill climb course on my ride the day before the RR so I had already ridden it twice and knew what to expect. It was a 1.2-km climb, up the paved road beside the Olympic Bobsled track at Calgary Olympic Park. 400 feet of elevation in 1.2 km with six switchbacks. It was three-up style, but as the gradient was fairly steep, the tactic was to just treat it as a time trial as the winning times in the past were less than four minutes. I was paired with a strong Aussie, Marc Enther, who said he wanted to hang for the first few minutes and challenge himself. So I just went hard for the first minute, a bit harder for 30 seconds and then sprinted until I crossed the line. I can honestly say that is the most lactic acid I have ever felt in my quads, I had to unclip from my pedals and I almost ran into a fire hydrant. The view from the top of the mountain was quite spectacular, as the race was run at 8:30 pm, the sun was setting over Calgary’s downtown skyline and I was surrounded by the monuments of the ’88 Olympic games. The way down the hill we followed the bike path that followed the bobsled track turn for turn, I almost died three times and thought about hitting the gym and becoming a bobsledder. Luckily I won the Hill Climb by 2.6 seconds over Trek’s Cody Canning, I think it was my Giro Air Attack Helmet that gave me the difference, maybe the skin suit and booties were overkill, but who knows.

Criterium — Aug. 5, 2013
Bowness (Calgary)
So the pressure was on , I was leading the Omnium going into the technical seven-corner crit run a 960-m course. The night before, I started to put a plan together, but I tried not to overthink it. Basically, if I was too aggressive I could get steamrolled, and if I played it too lazily, there were too many scenarios that could evolve that I would end up losing the lead. Luckily my buddy Shaun Adamson told me that if it was a tie on points, the tie breaker would be on overall time, and I had the fastest time in the hill climb, so I would win.

The H&R Block and Trek guys lit it up and had me chasing like a chicken with its head cut off. I did have the advantage of being in the driver’s seat. I made the decision to write three numbers down on my stem, any move by these guys I had to cover no matter what. So these guys tried to kill me. But I was loving it and decided a few times, that I could use their counter attacks to my advantage to have the others chase me down if I attacked, so I picked a few choice times to attack them, even snagging a a prime. I flatted mid race, but got somewhat of a neutral wheel. It came to a sprint and I ended up fourth. The attacks really hurt me because I almost threw up after the crit and it took me 20 minutes to talk.

We were in a three way tie for the lead, so with tie breaker on time from the Hill climb, I won the overall. Unfortunately the Trek guys didn’t know about the tie breaker and they thought they won, as it was an omnium, we were all a bit confused after but I felt a good sensation like I had done enough. Click here for the full results.

It was really nice to share this moment with my inlaws and we celebrated with a nice glass of wine and by far the best Greek (My Pegasus Greek Restaurant, 16th ave Calgary) food I’ve ever had.

Although my teammates were not there to help me, the lessons I have learned from and with them this year has taught me to control my attacks and make them count and at times calculate a little more, so I would have not won without some of the lessons I have learned this year and by making some of the mistakes I have made earlier this season.