Monday, April 5, 2010

Cobbles and Kangarilla

I really do love the Tour of Flanders. Last night I stayed up watching a Eurosport feed with dutch commentary. I saw the first decisive moment when Cancellara and Boonen got away, but managed to fall asleep with about 30 kms remaining, only to wake up in time to see the sprint for 56th place or so. Cancellara was probably already showered and doing press conferences.

This year, PACC had representatives in both the men's and women's editions of the race: Stuart O'Grady and Carly Light, respectively.

But let's not forget your humble author's days as a cyclist on the cobbles of Belgium:

You can see that I ran a rather 'unique' setup for the spring classics, opting for 'reverse drop' handlebars, mudguards, and a luggage rack to assist with domestique duties. Also note the headlight, just in case the driving rain became too intense to see. I also chose to defy UCI rules and ride sans-helmet.

My teammate, Danny, in a solo breakaway:


These were taken in Brugge in 2006, the starting location for the Tour of Flanders - and yes, we did see the start of the race! We then watched the rest of it in a bar full of chain smoking Belgians, who went absolutely crazy when Tom Boonen won. Fun times.

Anyway, back to reality...

There was a certainly a big turn out on Saturday for the road race of the season. There were roughly 40 entrants for C-grade, about double what I would usually expect to see!

The race was four laps of the 17 km circuit. Rather than a blow-by-blow account of the whole race, I'll sum up some of the defining moments for me:
  • On the second lap, a rider tried to exist in a space where there was no space, and almost went down -- right in front of me. Somehow he held it up though, a maneuver which involved putting his foot on the ground while still in motion. I don't know how he did it!
  • My Times-7 transponder attempted to go into the spokes on the descent on the third lap. I had to pull over, tear of the mount, and then chase for 10 minutes to get back to the pack.
  • On the same descent, fourth lap, young Alex King's front tyre blew out. I was sitting a couple of bikes back, and the ensuing chaos saw me riding in the gravel at 40 km/h for a short stretch. It was a little hair raising!
So after all of this, I was quite happy to finish with the bunch! The race finished together, with a bunch sprint for the remaining 20 or 30 riders. I tried a last minute attack but had no legs left, and frankly, even with good legs I don't know if it would've succeeded. The field was strong. I ended up leading the bunch into the final corner, sprinted for all of 100m and then promptly exploded while everyone went around me.

Very happy to be racing road again. Very very worried about the Tour of Coleraine which is coming up in three weeks time....

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