It was inevitable. We are sitting at the KOM (King of the Mountain) spot in Lethbridge an hour before the race start and it is pouring. It has been since we left Calgary. As planned we arrive here at 2pm ready to elbow our way to a good parking spot and secure the ultimate watching 2 sq. ft. Expecting crowds we are prepared for all. There is absolutely no one here except the marshals and us, of course. There is one other fellow, whom I happen to know, K, but he has scoped out the non-crowds and left to find a coffee. I presume he will return just prior to the peleton passing by.
We leave Calgary with what we thought was a good amount of time for us (spectators) to get to the race route in time. As we make our way south there are a number of race vehicles making their way as well. We pass buses, team cars and official’s cars. We stop for lunch at the iconic Canadian fast food place of Tim Horton’s. Shortly after we sit down, the Hincapie Development team van pulls in so the racers can pick up some lunch. When in Rome. Have a short chat with a couple of the guys, wish them luck, then we are on our way again. It isn’t far to Lethbridge but I hope they make it to the start in time to as least turn their pedals a couple of times. I do not envy their task today. 4 hours of misery in 8C rainy weather. I guess that is what they get paid for.
The first time up the hill out of the coulee the pack romps up the climb. By the second lap there is a break of three riders.
The chase pack is about 2 minutes back and then there are a few lone riders way off the back. Each time the riders make the climb, they are looking more and more soaking wet. Some don’t look too happy, but they keep riding.
We watch four circuits on the climb and then move to the finish line. Standing by the fence near the finish we see them race by on their fifth lap. There are now only 2 riders out front. The large chase pack has splintered in two and there are a few more trailers. One lone rider, way off the back, is determined to finish. He goes past finishing his fifth lap just ahead of the pack sprinting at the end of their race. There is a mad dash for the finish line by a pack of about 16. Many of the riders head right to their team bus to get out of the chill and get dry.
It was a tough day out on the course not just for the riders but also for us spectators.
We have the heat turned up high in the vehicle as we drive north again and we are still not warm yet.
Hopefully the forecast for tomorrow is blue skies, sun and warmth.