Sunday, 19 June 2011

place names explained

yup, i've been racing my bike again. With mixed fortunes. Monday was a national holiday here, and in celebration of this there were NO races in Catalonia because our local government is still composed of two warring factions who are yet to grow up enough to actually do anything useful and as a result all kinds of things aren't happening. So a large group of us conducted a border raid into Pollestres. if you want the compact race report it goes like this, mental first lap, buried my pedal about 30ks in. went to the back, pack split, escaped from the bunch, worked like a dog, got caught, sat in the bunch, thought happy thoughts, perfected my water bottle stealing.
Now the interesting thing about pollestres is that the catalan word pollo a l'ast is pronounced more or less the same as the french word pollestres; resulting in much giggling as we disputed the grand prix of spit roasted chicken...

this weekend was more exciting, saturday was a carnival rac ein Pobla de Mafumet. This was a moorish town origionally called pobla de Mohammed but, post reconquista such obvious islamicness was unacceptable, but they couldn't change the name too much because nobody would know what they were on about, thus we get the Catalanised mafumet. As for the race, it was a classic of spanish organisation, i rode out, only to find the start delayed for over an hour, they towed about 20 cars off the course as nobody had thought to post no parking signs on the finish straight and, after much discussion they decided to add a section of road which i am pretty sure wasn't on the origional route.

This being Catalonia and there being virtually no races a mountain of spandex weirdos descended on the town and, they decided to split the race into two with a final race afterwards. They informed us there would be sprints for the classification. I (along with many others) assumed this was the regional copa elite classification but no, you had to be classified to go onto the final. Ergo, despite finsihing up front after avoiding the crashes which eliminated hafl the field within 6k of the start (and one bloke before he'd even clipped in!) i didn't get to race the finale. My fault, i'll listen better next time.

Sunday saw myself and a french friend making a trip to Valencia where we arrived early, in time to wait for 50- mins while the local federation rep decided if he was going to allow foreign riders to race, It's ok in Catalonia but app[arenlty Valencia is a different world. WIth 10 mins before the start he decided to relent, mad spandexing and oil application ensued but we were ready in time to roll up DFL at the back of the bunch.

In an interesting side note today's race also had an odd name, alquerias del nino perdido. The name was changed by Franco from the origional alqueries in Valencian. Now the town has two names, this makes finding it on a sat-nav a bit of a mission.

Anyway, having not warmed up, and started at the back we went from the changing room to 50kph more rapidly than i would have liked. i suffered like a monkey for the first 15k, gradually made my way up for the first 50, relaised i hadn't eaten or drunk anything when my navigator went mental and went to the middle of the bunch to enjoy a bit of a picnic. Of course at this point the break went. After allowing myself a full 10 seconds of digestion i set off in hot pursuit, bridged to the second group and tried to get things organised. Despite my best efforts to explain that we had about as much chance as a chocolate teapot unless we worked together we proceeded to alternate between 20kph and 50kph while those of us who didn't have the legs to attack were kind enough to decorate the roads with our dropped bidons, gel packets and nasal fluid (yes i'm talking about you orange dude). Lon story short, we got caught, it came down to a gallop with about 15 guys away. IN the last corner the bunch was somewhat hindered by the attempts of a local 4x4 owner to share the road, and i count myself lucky to have finished with my skin. Oh and some theiving gypo nicked my armwarmers.

Still i met some pretty cool folks and unlike in the rest of Europe people GIVE you water here so you don't have to steal it, this helps as you don't have to leave the race at high velocity in your chamois as there are generally fewer angry wives and girlfriends to deal with.

i'm going to start making race comment cards

GP Pollestres
Distance: 105k
Circuit: 2 roundabouts, urban section, more white paint than asphalt, rain, considerable "drifintg" potential off circuit final km
Bonus points: Nabbed a water bottle

cursa de fiesta mayor pobla de Mafumet
2 180s 1 roundabout, 3 90 degree turns - more reminiscent of stock car racing than bicycle racing.
Survival was a bonus!

GP Alqueries
twisty, 5k, 2 motorway overpasses, more sleeping policemen than you'd see in a constabulary dormitory
red bull hand up, if there had been a king of the mountain's i'd have taken it i DOMINATED that motorway bridge.