2009/09/03

Sherboucle road race



Last weekend was my first road race. A hilly 105km loop starting in Sherbrooke smartly called la Sherboucle. The weather has been nice the past few weeks but did us proud by throwing some rain, cold and strong winds, just for us. Just as I previously thought, the race had a nice northern classic feel and being a man of the north, I didn't mind the wetness and the cold as my body usually fire all cylinders when it's colder but doesn't work as well in the heat. The wind turned out to be a much more influent factor.

My fate as well as for many others, was decided only after a few kilometres when the peloton split. I was in the second half but with the wind, I moved at the front as soon as I noticed the split. Two guys were between the two packs so looking around me, I saw that the strong Nic aka 'spitting bull' was around so I put the gas on and quickly bridged to the two guys, expecting that a few riders would be willing to bridge to the front group as soon as possible. The wind was so strong that the further they got, the harder we would have to work to make it across.

We were only seven chasing, Nic the locomotive made the move, but two or three seemed not to care and were not helping, sometimes even disturbing our rotations, we worked and worked but our little group had no chances versus the huge front group. I'm guessing the front group were one half of the total field, the rear one the other half... and there we were, seven riders, spending way too much energy and not making any progress. After half an hour, we got caught by a group of around 30 riders lead by a strong bunch... but a bunch of asses. They wouldn't cooperate with anyone not in their cycling club, they were bunched at the front but with the help of the whole group, we could have make more progress against the people out front. A few of us still mixed in the nazis but they seemed to slow the group a lot when their leader was asking his team not to help us and let us go... they prefered to slow down the whole group when they were tired of pulling rather than let others help. I never understood their tactics as they didn't have anyone of them in front. It might have been my first road race but it seemed weird. I wont name their club but they are from a pretty flat area, perhaps they were trying to save themselves for the hills but, being a mountain biker, the course's many hills felt like small bumps to me, nothing to drain that much energy. Or maybe they were just typical roadie snobs who didn't like to hang around a guy with a cyclocross bike?

Anyway, I spent most of the time pissing off these guys by staying toward the front, taking turns pulling, pacing, maybe sometimes too fast on the climbs, I didn't want to risk another split as the wind wasn't getting any weaker. Another club tried to pull away but they were only three and it didn't work. Then, staying up front paid off.

The group split and always took some time to get reorganized on climbs and even worse in sharp corners. After a 90° left corner, I got alone in front, I soft pedaled to wait for the rest of the group but for some reason, it was taking a lot of time. I then noticed a guy alone in front, probably dropped from the front so I looked back, I had a good gap and accelerated to catch the guy in front. Asking him if he was from our group (I didn't noticed him but you never know) or if came from the front, he told me he had been in no man's land for a long time now. Then with my most convincing grin, I asked if he wanted to try to go further ahead and leave my former group behind. He glanced back and smiled: let's go! Nice, I had a partner to escape from the nazis!

It turned out we were pretty evenly matched so we were working quite well together. I had forgot to press the start button on my computer at the start so I wasn't too sure about the remaining distance, I was guessing 15-20km. We caught a few people dropped from the front, they were all either tired or wanted us to think so and get pulled by us so only my new associate and me took pulls. Then, a sharp right across a bridge, I took a pull but when I drift on the side to let another one take a turn, no one came. They were still there but now they were trying to save some energy. In my mind we were still quite a few km from the end and didn't want to be tricked by the other three I was riding with. Time to brake and let them through or accelerate and force them to do something? I accelerated of course and after a quick glance back, the move dropped our latchers. Turn out they were not tricking us but too fried to pull.

I was told the last climb was a 3km wall... We were now climbing but it was not a wall at all so I expected more to come. I was following my partner of the moment but when I understood that this was the final climb, we were already finished with it. Like a total newbie, I didn't attack, I didn't use my climbing legs to drop him and finished a second behind him... Great. But, at least I got beaten by a guy who worked... and it was only for the 87th place, I got 88. For a first experience, it was quite okay and I had some fun, particularly when I escaped the group for some more action... It wont be my last road race.

1 comment:

Carl Buchanan said...

Sounds like some fairly typical tactics, although probably not the right tactics by a few of the nazis.

Nice work staying in there and working hard to the end.