Our First Ever O’Cup

05-Juliette trail1For the uninitiated, an “O’Cup” refers to the Ontario Cup cycling races that take place each year here in…Ontario. There’s a cross country mountain biking O’Cup and a road riding O’Cup. I don’t know much about the road series, but the MTB series consists of 8 races over the course of spring, summer and fall at various locations across Ontario (surprise!).

You get points for where you place in each race. The best five of your races gets added up to decide on where you place in your category for the season. Top 3 get some kind of kudos, and probably a prize. There are various categories for both men and women as well as a “Sport” category for people who are less serious and an “Expert” category for the hard asses. Needless to say, this being my first O’Cup season, I am in the Sport category and after last weekend, very glad to be there. The standard is high!

We drove up in the VW with Mari, bumped into Debs and Carl on the way, and met loads of people we knew once we were up there. It served to soothe the nerves a bit, seeing so many familiar faces.

The race was really very different to anything I’ve done before. Usually we do long races of 60km and more. You keep eating, maintain a certain heart rate and at the end, sheer guts and determination get you through to the finish line.

An O’Cup race is totally different. Firstly it’s very short, about 18km-20km. There is no time to eat, drink, look behind to see where your competitors are, or make any major technical or mechanical mistakes, it’s over in a little more than an hour. You ride like your pants were on fire and you’re being chased by a bear. You can’t hear yourself think because you’re breathing so heavily and you wonder whether your lungs are going to explode. You feel like you are going to vomit as you push, push, push to the finish line. The gaps between first second and third can be less than a minute. It’s bonkers. I loved it. I have never ever felt my competitive streak in such a visceral way. I am hooked.

I pulled in a respectable fourth in my category, due partly to the fact that Tecla was hot on my heels the entire race (and there is just a smidge of friendly rivallry between the two of us). Rob actually podiumed with a third place in his group and Debs and Dave also came third in their category.

We did really well as a group and afterwards hung out in the sunshine and swapped war stories. Our next one is in two weeks. I can’t wait.

Lisa, Dave’s wife, who is the best support person anyone could hope for, took some photos of the day. I have put the ones she sent to me on my Facebook page and Tecla has some other really nice ones on her Flickr site.

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