Whistler cyclist Will Routley earned a tough win on the road at the Norm Lowe B.C. Cup in Mission last weekend, breaking away from the pack early in the 170 km competition with a small group and holding on to the very end of the race.
"It was really good to win, especially on such a horrible day," he said. "When we first started out it was raining so hard the raindrops hurt when they hit your face. It rained pretty much for the first three-quarters of the race.
"Still, it was a really tough race at a really high pace. Nobody was holding anything back."
A small lead pack of four riders broke off from the main group after the first lap of the course heading into the hill climb. One of the cyclists flatted out and the three remaining riders, including Routley, took turns in the lead position over the next two hours.
Although they had a lead of close to five minutes at the halfway point, a second group broke off from the main group and gave chase, with members of Routleys team, Symmetrics, leading the charge. With only a few laps to go a group of 10 riders pulled up to Routleys group, including five of his teammates. They worked together after that point, taking turns setting the pace, until some of the riders dropped back.
Symmetrics riders went on to claim the top four spots in the race, with Routley up front. It was only fitting he started the first breakaway, and he led the breakaway to the finish.
"It felt good to be able to charge like that at the finish after a tough race like that at the front of the pack, to have a little extra in the tank for the finish line," said Routley, who is in his first season with a road team. In the past he mainly focussed on mountain biking.
"Its great to be on a team thats doing well, thats winning everything in the Northwest, but it was also good to have a personal win for my own morale. Im really excited for my next race."
This was Routleys second B.C. Cup of the season. The first ended in disaster after his third flat tire on the rugged course.
Since then he has been racing with Symmetrics all over the Western U.S., riding in longer stage events as far away as New Mexico. His results have been steadily improving all season, helping Symmetrics to win team titles in every race this season.
Routley finished the 170 km Norm Lowe race, 12 laps of an up and down 15 km circuit, in a time of four hours, six minutes and 46 seconds, with riders pushing speeds of 55 kilometres per hour on the flat sections.
The strong result works in Routleys favour heading into this weekend, the SISU B.C. Cup Provincial Road Championships in Victoria. After that he will be heading to Quebec for the seven stage Grand Prix de Beaux, which has more UCI points up for grabs than any other race in North America. A good result would could earn Routley a berth with Team Canada for the Canadian Road Nationals and the World Road Championships.
He still has some mountain biking to do as well, including the World Cup in Calgary and the nationals. His goal is to make the World Championships in both disciplines.
In the meantime, Routley is enjoying his time at home and the opportunity to race in the weekly WORCA Loonie Race series.
"Its funny, but now Ive switched to road Im actually going to get to race in more Loonies this year than last year," said Routley.
Theres one achievement that Routley is particularly proud of, and it doesnt have anything to do with biking. As part of the Symmetrics Team, Routley has committed to help raise money for the B.C. Special Olympics, and he has personally already raised more than $1,200 by soliciting donations and raffling different items donated by his sponsors.