Now I’m not in the habit of writing race repots, because nobody want to hear about my merry-go-round imitating failures in southern California crits so, until this stage I have abstained from such self indulgence, but I thought you might fancy a little window into my world and how racing is back home.
This week was the national B (read pretty fast, national A races only occur a few times a year and are billed as “premier calendars”) a couple of big teams were there, including stalwart of the British chipper scene Tony Gibb (he’s won some medals in some event or other on the velodrome and is, if the truth be told, a pretty accomplished rider)and his possee of plus sized gentlemen who were avoiding the premier race that weekend, most likely on account of it’s sawtooth profile.
Anyway I got to the race 2 hours early thanks to dad (who kindly gave me a lift) I went over to the commissaire and showed him my US licence (my friend in the licence dept had taken the trouble to email him and ask him to watch out for my devious underhand ways). Having duly noted that I wasn’t in fact doing anything wrong, the comm apologized for the treatment I was getting from the tie wearing desk-jockeys in the central office and went ahead to sign me on for the race. The rapidity with which this occurred was refreshing after a year outside of the home of brusk efficiency, sadly this meant I now had 2 hours of chamois time before the race.
I invested this time wisely, knowing that the race was likely to go hard from the gun I decided I would be best riding about in the car park and talking to everyone, showing off my insulin pump, checking tyre pressures and persuading some attractive young ladies to hold water bottles for the next 3 hours. Givent hat I allowed myself 120 mins to warm up it’s quite understandable that total warm up distance was 1. 2 mile, I think you would have done the same.
Pitiful warm up over I went inside for the briefing (don’t have those in the usa!) and then outside for the start, somehow I lined up at the front and off we rolled, at this point the plastic nose bridge fell off my sunglasses. Now sunglasses are a VITAL part of the style code and I wasn’t about to race 120k with my eyes on show, it would have been indecent. So I sat up and replaced said nosepiece, at the cost of looking like a bit of a berk riding the whole neutral zone “no hands” like a 12 yr old.
Once the flag dropped the race began, with 120km to go you would expect a steady pace but a load of idiots decided to slam it into the gutter on the other side of the road, dice with head on traffic and generally make life difficult for those of us who had failed to warm up. I figured prominently amongst said idiots.
After around 15 miles of aforementioned daredevil penis measuring we decided to slow down, which was a good idea, my powertap was showing numbers to which it is not accustomed. And so, for another 15 or so miles we rolled around, averaging about 25 but nothing too hectic got away, I followed moves, marked good riders and generally sucked wheel like a famous brand of Vacum cleaner. As we approached the feed zone about 45 miles in things started to go doolally along the rollers, not unexpected. What was unexpected was that just as we caught up to an embryonic break there was an equine intervention in the bunch.
Very tour de France im sure but, quite honestly when you’re trying to race your bike a horse running alongside is not quaint, it’s bloody scary. Especially when the horse is pulling some sketchy line switches like a jr 4th cat. Anyway, long story short the break was up the road and we were stuck behind negotiating with lady Tatiana inbred or whatever the horsey posh lady was called. And I’m not just running her down because she’s a horsey lady, I’m doing so because we’d already bloody passed her once and she’d continued on the course, the second time when the horse she was leading (yep, unsatisfied with the conspicuous consumption that is leisure horse riding she was riding 2 horses simultaneously) escaped, she shouted at US and asked us why we had continued on the same route despite her intentions. Well lady we live in something approaching a democracy, there were 120 of us and one of you, so yeah we’d win that vote.
After the intervention of dobbin the bunch rode piano, riders went back to talk to the comm. And a few of us went to the front to look important and ride slowly. As we approached a junction some riders signaled for a stop, we stopped and talked with the comm. Who agreed to restart the race. At this point my navi started bleeping like a mad thing and I realized all the stopping and stressing had sent my blood sugar through the roof, arse. I begged for some water but everyone only had mix. Lots of the boys seemed pretty concerned, which is nice. Fortunatley I could drift back in the bunch and mince about in the caravan until someone handed me up some water, thanks to whomever the team who ride in green is, I appreciate it. I also took the chance to draft some cars whilst dialing in a minibolus on my pod.
As the race continued the comm stopped the break and we all had a piss, he set of the break with the gap it had had the lap before – which had dropped to virtually nothing by the time we had encountered the horses but there was nothing he could do. The inevitable teammate shuffling occurred and the break now had 30 seconds and lots more horsepower.
We spent the rest of the race chasing, I had some pretty mean cramps thanks to the high bg but I wasn’t letting it bother me. Interestingly these cramps focused around my shoulder (alongside my legs) which was a new and exciting location for pain in a bike race, I had to ride with my arm hooked into my bibs, sling style, for about a mile and it eased off. We got the break back to about 10 seconds and I proceeded to retreat to the rear, drink more water and wait for the catch before launching my killer move. Oddly the catch never came and I was so busy drinking water and explaining to the multiple people who offered me gels that my sugars were high, not low (but all the same I genuinely appreciated their concern) that I didn’t do much work to help this situation. Going up the final hill several riders engaged the reverse gear on their bikes, this made it more like some kind of inverse super-G than a spring finish but I managed to limp in somewhere in the bunch.
After the race I made a correction and finally got my sugars back into the range I wanted them and set off for the 20 odd mile ride home, I rode with a mate for a bit and then he stopped at his home. At this point my sugars decided to continue their non-cooperation and dropped like a lead stone. Luckily there was a village shop on hand and a mars bar and some fruit pastilles got me home, where I checked again to find that my blood had reverted to treacle-like status. A protein drink and a megabolus followed. There’s something disconcerting about riding over 100 miles and coming home to a nice salad!
Anyway rubber stayed down, fun was had. Thanks to the ladies who fed me and to Mr ainstie who searched out water for me in the feed zone when I didn’t need any more sugar. Belgium next week, bring on the waffles, chocolate, cobbles and beer!