Crash 5 at the Tour de Bowness

The 2015 Tour de Bowness saw the MEC Calgary Cycling Club send its largest delegation to a race yet, with John Pexman, Josh Denison, Brayden Dumanowski, and I racing Men’s Cat 5 and Kelsey Castro racing Women’s Cat 5. This race was especially notable since it was the first race ever for Kelsey, and the first race of the season for John P and Brayden.

crit montage

Each team member railing Turn 1 (aka “Crash Corner”)

We made a strong showing after the first two stages. For the Road Race, John and I were in the group that went clear the first time up the Horse Creek KOM, and he took 7th place and I took 10th. During the Hill Climb on Sunday, John took 3rd and I took 8th. This meant that we were “called up” for the crit and got to start at the front of the race.

I wasn’t surprised to hear John’s name called up, but it never dawned on me that I would get called up as well. Crits are my weakest discipline, and starting at the front meant I wouldn’t have to burn matches just to get to the front.

And I had every intention of finally being a contender in a crit rather than just another hanger-on.

The other thing I liked about the Tour de Bowness crit course is that it had only one straightaway, which meant my lack of top-end speed wouldn’t be as much of a handicap, and it’s a technical course with seven turns, a hill, and rough pavement, which further gives a bonus to agility over pure speed.

With enough focus, it was actually relatively easy to defend my position in the top ten. After a few laps, I decided to be more aggressive, and I tried to stay in the top five riders, but touching the wind as little as possible. The only time I got nervous was when Kaleb from Ascent Racing and another rider were off the front for a couple of laps, and I actually took to the front to help bring them back, making the catch on the finishing straightaway before letting someone else take the front so I could recover.

With our average speed hovering around 40km/h, nobody tried any serious attacks. Going into the bell lap, I was still in the top five, and I could not believe there was actually a chance of me being able to contest the finish of a crit. There was a lot of jockeying for position on the back section of the course, and I even got to rub elbows with a few riders as I tried to maintain my spot.

On the fifth turn, I hit a bump hard and heard an ominous hissing sound and thought, “I feel sorry for that poor schmuck.”

Oh how blissful ignorance is shattered painfully.

I realized when I was going into the final turn that it was my wheel that went flat. No, wait, both my wheels. I saw the finish line ahead, and being near the front, I committed myself to doing whatever necessary to get my top 10, even if it meant destroying my (cheap) rims. The bicycle gods had other ideas in mind, and my rear wheel slipped out from underneath me, taking me down to the asphalt and skidding towards the curb at 45km/h. Unfortunately, I also took down Suchet from Speed Theory.

A course marshal and medic were on the scene immediately, and they went through the standard first aid checklist. When they asked what hurt, I responded dryly, “My pride.”

Not seeing me at the finish, my teammates and friends made their way to me pretty quickly and took my bike while I got patched up in the ambulance.

Miraculously, my performances in the road race and hill climb meant I held on to 9th overall, in spite of DNF-ing the crit.

Even better, my teammates also put in strong performances, with Pexman taking 5th overall, and Kelsey taking 8th in the Hill Climb.

It’s amazing how racing can go. You can go from back-to-back top 10s to DNF to holding on to a top 10 overall placing.


I get by with a little help from my friends. Andrew and Brayden take my bike to my car and have a look at it while I got patched up.

The Team! From L-R: Josh Denison, Brayden Dumanowski, John Pexman, me, Kelsey Castro, and guest-but-to-be-future-team-member Arpad Soos.

The Team! From L-R: Josh Denison, Brayden Dumanowski, John Pexman, me, Kelsey Castro, and guest-but-to-be-future-team-member Arpad Soos.


About jbsantos
Polling, politics, PR and outdoor pursuits.

One Response to Crash 5 at the Tour de Bowness

  1. Look at those knees in the top photo. Very professional.

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