The final months of a season are always a gamble. You’re either taking advantage of other tired cyclists and raking in the results or you’re one of the many tired riders, missing training days and settling to finish in bunch. Basically, you’re flying or creeping and I was the later. Even the incentive of a croissant with Nutella was not enough to get me out the door and onto the bike. I was exhausted.
I was barely getting out of bed, taking long afternoon naps and riding was reserved for pre-race rides and races. I hadn’t felt so tired since my run in with glandular fever in 2009 and, as you would guess, the races were forgettable as I was just ticking over trying to survive to the end of the season. However, since the last race of the season was the Final of the French Cup series, I dug deep into the motivation box, scratched around for the final few grains, and buckled down for a few training rides.
After a 9 hour drive the day before, we stood on the start line of the 160km race and, honestly, I was hoping to finish in the peloton. I surfed the bunch for the first 120km while the winning break sat 1min off the front for most of the day. Surprisingly I felt okay so, as we approached the finishing circuits, I attacked and forced a small group off the front. The group rode hard together and we bridged the 1min gap in 10km. When we arrived, I noticed some riders had broken away and were up the road but, in the “death march” part of my season, I was pleased to be racing for 6th.
As we counted down the finishing laps, the run up to the finish line was a steep 500m and I knew I had a final sprint in my legs. 800M to go we rounded the final bend and, with my eye on some prime real estate, I started to move up the outside. As we hit the apex of the corner, suddenly the rider beside me lost his front wheel and slid out in front of me. With no choice, I rode right over the other rider, flew off my bike and landed hard on my right hip. As I stood up and climbed back on my bike, the bunch came flying past and I went from racing for 6th, to finishing 111th. The loss of opportunity hurt more than the crash.
The race seemed like a fitting metaphor for my season: promising start, good flurry, a ton of hard work and a tough finish. With the season finally over, I was happy to count last season as experience and recover with a holiday in Canada filled with tourist activity, tea, cake and maybe a bit of Moose spotting.