“They never ever ease up eh?!” Said Richard B after lasting an incredible 45 minutes in a Belgian Masters’ kermesse today.
“Lol I did warn you mate” I replied!
“I’m sure Barny said something similar last year?!”
Our team’s amazing weekend started on Friday with Barny winning the bunch sprint in the Masters’ Crit at Cyclopark to take a fantastic second place. Please don’t be fooled by the word “Masters” as the first 11 places were occupied by 1st and 2nd Cats.
On Saturday at Cyclopark we had Trevor and Richard G in the 3rds but unfortunately Rich came down and suffered mild concussion along with considerable cuts and bruises. Thanks Andy and your wife for driving his car home. Speedy recovery Rich
In the 4ths our new superstar Alex got into the winning break and was just pipped to the line, finishing second and nailing his 3rd Cat and we’re only in March! Well done mate.
Today, Steve, Rich B and I went to Belgium to ride a pan flat 60km Masters’ kermesse.
F#ck it was fast. Or as Rich put it:
“There was no time for sight seeing, Pamela Anderson could have been on the side of the road and I wouldn’t have seen her”
It was also the most aggressive of the 15 or so kermesses I’ve started (and occasionally finished); elbows, shouting, swearing (probably, I don’t know much Flemish), cutting each other up and fierce fierce speeds out of the corners which, incidentally came 5 times every 2km lap, equating to 150 maximal efforts out of the saddle!
With a field of 90, Rich and I did a practice lap to recce the course and found ourselves lining up right at the back: first schoolboy error! Steve however followed my advice and was waiting right up the front, clipped in and leaning against the barriers, soaking up the sunshine!
Off we went with the sun shining brightly, in shorts and short sleeves, what amazing weather for a bike race as Rich and I tried to move up as Steve kindly moved back although I fear he didn’t have much of a say in things!
All the corners were right handers (fully closed roads they can do what they like). I don’t know about you but I’m slightly happier cornering to the left so this was going to be tough. Add into the mix that my fractured right elbow is still not quite fixed and I must admit I was getting pushed about in the first few laps.
With 27 minutes on my clock (of a 90 minute race) I was really beginning to wonder what was happening to my body and was desperately disappointed to see such a few amount of minutes had passed. Maybe this was too early in the season to be taking on such a task?
Anyway I manned the f up and got on with it, by now passing Steve each lap who was roadside and cheering us on.
I saw Rich once as he moved up looking great but unfortunately, moving up in the field in Belgium takes as much effort as a bunch sprint back home so we lost him at 46 minutes.
Richard’s average heart rate was180 compared to 160 at last weekend’s hilly 2nd cat race! He bloody loved it though!
That left just me and with 10 laps (30 mins) to go. I was pretty much last at this point so I had nothing to lose, I started digging in to move up and once I’d made that decision, all of a sudden, wonderful things started happening:
– My cornering improved: I stopped letting riders undercut me and I laid off the brakes, shutting the door on them
– I started shouting (in Flemish!) to people I was there and they gave me wheels
– I wasn’t getting bullied any more I was doing the bullying; my elbows were out and I was riding how I wanted not how they wanted me to.
I had gained some respect. I also realised that I was coming out of every corner in too big a gear. No wonder that first hour nearly killed me. Now I’m being cleverer about my gear selection and accelerating back up to speed with ease.
5 to go
We are in one line, I am mid peloton and holding my position.
4 to go
I’m still moving up, top 20, I have never been in so much pain but I’m not letting this slip away now
3 to go
2 to go
Suddenly everybody sat up (for the first time since the off I might add) and10 or so riders jump off the front. The road is now blocked but, more importantly, I’m losing all the ground I’ve made up.
We’re all fighting for gaps now like it’s the bloody World Championships!
1 to go, 2km.
The sprint starts. Already?!!
We’re in one line and this time just holding the wheel in front is a result and I can’t do any more than that. I follow the line in and out of the final two corners just holding my place.
I’m spent. I’m absolutely shattered and I feel very very ill as I cross the finish line.
22nd place! Wtf?! Unbelievable, I finished!
Elation and what’s more prize money down to 25th so I win 5 Euros.
What a weekend
No. What a bloody amazing weekend.
And what a team