I feel like a rally car driver. I am in a line of five cars all driving 85 kph down TWP 510 towards Hwy 21. We are all of the same mind. Get to the finish line before the racers.
These last few days have felt very much like a rally car race. Murray navigates and I drive. We drive at a somewhat leisurely speed to our first stop to watch the racers go by. Even though we have left with lots of time, there is still a slight pressure to get there. Once the racers cycle by and the train passes, we hop in our vehicle and we drive at a not so leisurely speed to our second spot. I try not to speed, but the speedometer needle seems to creep up anyway. Rally car driving! (Not really but it sure feels like it sometimes!)
Today we leave with lots of time to get to the corner of TWP 510 and RR210 where the Canadian Pave turns into Gravel. We are not the first to arrive and find a former workmate/cyclist buddy of Murray’s standing on the side of the road. We spend our time chatting and catching up. Another couple has a scanner and the fellow kindly keeps us up to date on the race.
We hear there is a break about 4 minutes up on the pack. They arrive at the corner and take the corner with great care. The pack arrives minutes later and takes it faster. We all hold our breath hoping no one crashes.
A few stragglers are behind the pack and when they arrive, we see the reason written in blood running down their legs. One cyclist is riding a yellow neutral bike from the neutral support vehicle. His red Argon bike sits atop the yellow vehicle. It looks like the pave and gravel have taken a toll.
Once the vehicles pass, we jump in our steed and rally drive with the five others down the pave. Murray knows these roads well, and we opt for a slightly different route into Sherwood Park. We arrive, park and walk to the finish line area with time to spare.
There are more spectators here than there have been all week. Kids and cyclists and grandmas and teenagers and whole families. The festival booths are plenty. There is excitement in the air. The lead group and the chase pack are coming!
The cyclists speed by and the rush of wind is amazing. From rally car racers on the road we turn into Formula 1 race spectators standing behind the orange rails watching as the sleeker faster machines whoosh within inches.