Wednesday, September 30, 2009

French Racing Report # 2

Here's another (and last for this season) report of Hugh's road racing exploits from across the pond. Enjoy.

Well the road racing season officially ended yesterday.

Saturday a week ago was a 14 km two person time trial. I did not have a partner so one of the faster cat 3 riders did double duty and rode earlier with another person and then with me. God, I hate time trials. This was a full on heart attack but we ended up slightly over 24 mph. I am sure that if it was me alone, it would have been closer to 22 with luck. The course was rolling with no big hills but it did go through a fairly major town here and the roads were not closed. Strange combination of bureaucracy and disregard for obvious safety concerns. Did I mention, I hate time trials.

Yesterday (Sunday was the last race of the calendar). This was not a circuit race like the others but a large 80 km loop more like the road races in the States. This had 4 major hills. I did have a chance to pre-ride the course the week before so I knew the route which turned out to be very helpful.
There were around 35 cat 3’s with a lot of the local clubs being represented by multiple members. I was the only cat 3 rider from our club. I figured there might be a break on the second hill (which I had ridden many times) so I positioned myself near the front. The break did happen and I just managed to cover it. This split up the peloton into the 7 of us at the front and the rest behind. Unfortunately only 3 of us were willing to work to make the break stick. I did my part but after 10 km, part of the 2nd group caught up so now we had a group of 20 on the front. Still there were only 3 of us doing any work, after a few surges and pulls, we eased up and cruised along until the 3rd big hill. There was another surge and I held on as did all the others but the time at the front and the hills was taking its toll so I settled into the middle of the pack. I knew there was going to be another break on the last big climb so I went back up near the front. About a quarter of the way up, 3 guys went off the front, I was not able to bridge the gap but held the gap steady. This split the group into pieces. I crested the hill in 7th about 15 seconds behind the leaders. I halved the gap on the downhill as well as passing 5th and 6th (these guys are wimps on the down-hills or maybe I am a little nuts). This put me about 5 seconds behind the lead 3 so I had to dig pretty deep to bridge. Again not everyone was willing to keep the pace up and the remnants of the group were starting to catch up so myself and another guy picked up the pace again. I would rather fight the other 6 guys rather than all 20. This was with about 5 km to the finish. Nearing the finish straight was a very quick left right left through the center of town to a 200 meter finish straight. I was 5th in line onto the finish straight and managed to find a little left to 4th at the line. I was very pleased with the results considering the time spent at the front. This was great fun with a lot of strategy and gambling involved. Definitely different from the mountain biking and its own animal. I now am certain I can ride with these guys. I may never get a win but I love mixing it up.

The season is done and actually I am too. I look forward to more casual riding and the change to the winter ski season.