Tuesday, 5 July 2011

monday night in miracle-town

last night was the Nocturne Lourdes. Nocturnes are pretty much a french peculiarity, you start at 8.30 and race about 90k. I don't like nocturnes, you spin in the morning, spend the whole day not feeling like eating and worrying about tiring yourself out. I took the chance to go and visit most of the lourdes "attractions" and purchase some food for lunch. I also took the chance to buy an opinel penknife which i have wanted since i was 8, my parents wouldnt let me have one then as they thought it was too dangerous. Now i am obviously 200% older and wiser so i invested 8 euros in such a knife. and within 3 hours i was getting adhesive stitches in my finger....

anyway back to the race, pretty French again i'm afraid. I turned up and had spent the whole day faxing and emailing FFC who had contacted the commisairre to let him know i COULD race. so on presenting my licence i was surprised ot be told to sit down and wait for my dossard while all the local riders warmed up. Apparenlty we had to await the commisairres arrival. I asked if i could warm up and come back. No. because when the commisairre came he would take the sign on list and i would be too late. So why did i have to wait if i couldnt sign on after he came? Just wait there..... I'm not one for national character excuses and i have many french friends but french cyclists can be pricks!

so I sat there and embrocated, the comm turned up with about 15 mins to the start and i pinned on a dossard and rapidly got in a few tours before the off. once we got going it was pretty solid stuff, mid 40s speed wise, a lap of 1.5km, a pretty stiff berg of about 50m but enough to warrant a 500-600w effort every lap. My french hotelier had stationed himself here and later informed me of his disappointment that we seemed to be circulating quite slowly....

after familiarising myself with the assorted roundabouts and potholes between which we were attempting to cycle i Decided to attempt something approaching a bit of animation. And it rapidly became clear that i had a cheese chewing shadow. The local boys weren't letting me get away which is entirely understandable as they had no idea how strong or otherwise i might be. Anyway once it was clear i wasnt getting off the front i settled into the pack in the top 20 and proceeded to get really angry at a French rider now known as monsieur le guillotine thanks t his wheel chopping. Occasional forays off the front and sprints for primes took up the first hour wihtout incident. With about 30k to go it started getting pretty seriously dark, with about 15k to go it was pitch black. Some friendly soul had installed a slow strobe on the apex of the roundabout entry barrier, just slow enough that at 50kph you don't quite see it until it Jumps out at you, giving the race a whole new level of twitchyness. I fumbled my sunglasses into my helmet, slammed a final gel and hopped up onto the curb to move up.

10 tours now and local has decided to stand on the backside of the course, waving his umbrella onto the racing line. we're lined out, full gas and the next lap he damn near eats carbon. he's still there with 8 to go and my smart idea to discard my bidon towards his face seems to have been shared by about 10 other riders. Under a hail of plastic and sugar, he retreats. 7 to go now and a few guys are off the front. 2 riders in front of me blow up, punches fly and they manage to eliminate each other without getting in anyone elses way. phew. i'm all out of flat coke, i cant see a thing and my sugars are low, reactions are slow and the camera flashes are causing me to jump.

5 to go and the group is within spitting distance, i'm on the front flapping my arm like a crazy fool but nobody will come through so i tow a few guys over. To compound matters the hotelier is looking at his watch, he told me at 11 he would lock the door. 3 to go and it's all together. Hotelier has buggered off to lock me out. I'm sixth wheel and coming to the line i make an uncharachteristic and suprisingly succesful kick, enough for sprint points but not enough points to take the cash, bummer. after the effort i slip too far back. the group spreads out and holes are hard to find. 1 to go and i'm moving up the gutter when mnsr le guillotine appears from the right, rapidly traversing the road and intent on connecting with my steering. i bounce him off, loose speed, loose position and swear. It's too late, the kick is a shitstorm anyway, someone's pulled out of both his pedals and neutered himself on his top tube. Oh well, we're in lourdes, he can be more catholic now; no need for a condom.

with the race over the announcer grabs me for a few words on the microphone, i thank the people for watching and try my best to tell them a bit about diabetes in French. Then i grab my rucksack and return my dossard, get my licence and smack it back to the hotel just in time to wait half an hour for him to finish dinner and let me take my car out.

I drive for an hour, the GPS takes me on and off the toll road, they try to charge me 47 euros for the privelege of exiting at the same place i entered. at this point im starting to feel really low and really, really ill. I ask nicely and they let me off. I pull over after 45 mins of searching for petrol and vomit, force down food and realise i havent eaten anything but bread and 2 ham slices all day. i am suddenly ravenous, i eat some chocolate and another sandwich. Then, i start driving again, the detour has cost me an hour and i cant get more petrol as my card is frozen so i head for the border and the nation where i feel at home. I made it back at 2am, drove a bit further over the beautiful pyreness and pulled over at 3am. i slept fitfully atop the pyrenees for two hours as the wind shook my car violently and i woke bursting for a pee. ONly to find i'd locked myslef in the car and lost the key. Smart. mad scramble/ panic ensues, i find the bottle and get out and make it about 2 feet from the car before remembering not to literally piss inot the (glae force) wind.

i made it back at 8am, was about to get to sleep when my phone went mental, apparenlty i'm in el pais. Something about a t-shirt....

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