My weekend looked like it was going to be a good one: an awesome hilly race on Saturday followed by a relaxing day on Sunday watching and helping marshal a junior race our club was hosting. Turns out, I was about to learn that nothing ever goes to plan in cycling. It’s a lesson I keep having to learn.
I had high hopes for my race on Saturday. The parcours suited me in several ways, well four to be exact. In the final 70km of the course, we had 4 major climbs that would no doubt make the race. All I had to do was get to the last four climbs without expending too much energy. Simple, right?
For starters, the first 70km was no walk in the park. We had serious winds and a ton of traffic furniture that made for an interesting ride. Nevertheless, I arrived at the major climb safely in the front group but, after ascending the climb, everything just went downhill after that.
First, some idiot rode into my back wheel. He managed to break 3 of my spokes and caused me to puncture. With no team cars directly behind, I waited patiently (definitely not quietly!) for a wheel.
Back on the road after finally getting a wheel, I motor-paced back up to speed and then off I went into the wind to join the next group on the road. Problem was, it wasn’t the front group, so I rode straight past and went about bridging the 30sec back to the leaders. I made it back. Phew. First major hurdle over.
We raced over the next two climbs and through some gutter sections but it stayed together. On the penultimate climb the bunch began to split to pieces but my biggest concern at that point was the gravel descent. Although the road was tarred, the road was covered in loose gravel that made descending very sketchy. No worries there were some marshals with whistles on the hairpins, which made it all okay, NOT.
By some miracle, I reached the bottom, but then I heard another whistle. This time, however, it was the whistle of air leaking from my tyres. The awful feeling of a flat crept over me as I looked down to asses the problem. Double puncture! I couldn’t believe my luck but to add insult to injury, the team car was miles behind again. So, I waited, again.
When the manager finally pulls up, I causally whip out some grade A French: “deux,” I say, and he looks far beyond unimpressed. With two new wheels locked and loaded, I started up the final climb miles behind the leaders.
Race over, I shifted into training mode and suddenly I realized it was still winter. I looked around: snow. I checked my Garmin for the temperature: 4 degrees. I looked at my attire: no leg warmers, a sleeveless jacket, thin arm warmers, a cap and nothing else. It was going to be a cold 20km to the finish.
While my day sucked, after the race I found out a teammate came off way worse. With no marshal at a piece of of traffic furniture, he collided with a sign. I learned last year that these obstacles are broadly categorised as “Form F*ckers” because if you hit one your form is ‘f’d” for the season. He walked away with 3 broken fingers, a broken tooth and some pretty swollen legs. I just hope he makes a rapid recovery and finds some form soon enough. While I had to learn, yet again, that nothing in cycling every goes to plan, I also got another lesson in perspective and, bad race behind me, I’m looking forward to the next race.