Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Rituals and cocktails

The changing room before a kermis is a fascinating place to be. I sit there 4-5 times a week but it's never really occurred to me to take a good look around before; everyone has their own little pre -race ritual. It's like a hundred liturgies each with a different means to the same end.

To one side there might be a guy pinning his number 17 times and folding it like an origami artist. Another fastidiously checks His jersey pockets and mutters to himself "twee gel, waffel" and the little pill which triggers a furtive glance every time he pulls it out to check it's there. Someone else pits chamois cream on his shorts. Another takes his shorts from a supporter already lubricated and slips them on before going outside, base layer on and shorts rolled up to to his groin. He sits in a folding chair while the same supporter applies embro like she's about to send him sliding down a chimney.

I'm the same, i get to the race and make my bottles; flat coke. No money for mix any more. I drop a lemon magnesium tablet in each and a paracetamol in one if i feel sick. I will have eaten 4 hours out, maybe 3. Bread, ham, and fruit. Many eat plain pasta or even pasta with sugar! If it's been more than 3 hours I eat a rijstart wen I get to the race. And I get in an early trip to the toilet, before it looks and smells like pasendale.

I usually mix Vaseline aloe vera and litocane to make a chamois cream, pit my chamois and base layer on before the embro (that's important, try it the other way around and you'll see that it's not just a superstition). Check bloodsugar, im always checking. Everyone looks but i dont care, nobody talks. Then i put on armwarmers and check my jersey pockets.

I pull out a big bag of dex 4 and work out the distance of the race, divided by 40. It's never slower than 40. Then I multiply that number by 60 and that's my carbs. Plus an extra dex for emergencies.

Next I put the long sleeve on and shoes and gloves, select my sunglasses and ride to the sign on. Pay my euros and get my number. Pin it on, I'm not that fussy. And drink a redbull (45 mins out, thats how long it takes to hit) I put the race jersey under the long sleeve and ride the course, first lap to look for holes and tight parts. A few sprints. Second lap high cadence efforts. Check again, correct if I need to. Still 25 minutes, time enough to make corrections.

Then it's back to the start, others do it differently some are loud and chatty, others like Thom yorke. After the caffeine hits anemone done my efforts I'm more gregarious, less nervous.

Then to the start. I nine up in the middle near the front and hope we get off on time. Hand off my coat to dernytrainer eddy or janneke at the last minute. Nod at my friends. Cross myself (always, don't know why) and check if my shoe cover is covering the cleat. Some guys clip in and grab the rail. Others stand in front of the line and form a new "line" bastards.

I clean my shades, take a puff on my inhaler and do some light meditation. The guy next to me slaps his legs. Another idly toys with the lucky charm hanging from his saddle. I try to see who's sketchy and look for a good wheel. I look what gear everyone is in, the right gear is the same gear, if they have 53-11 then so should I. Someone kisses his wife. Someone else spits on the floor.

I reset the srm and when the whistle blows. And after two hours if pre-ritual of caffeine and sugar and embro and pills and nerves. Then we start bike racing.

-yep typed it with my thumbs: they're what makes us better than apes


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