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season opener -- ouch!!(9 posts)

season opener -- ouch!!philippec
Mar 5, 2003 6:44 AM
Sunday was the season opener for the Ile de France region here. Our team has a pretty decent régionale squad (cat 2-3) and we were determined to top last year's performance where we managed to get shelled after the first 2 laps. The course was a 10km triangular loop out in Montdidier (100km north of Paris) that we were slated to do 10 times. The countryside around Montdidier is pretty flat, extremely windy (we aren't too far from Belgium here and slightly north of Compiegne where P-R gets its start)and almost completely exposed except for the 1-2 kms that pass through the village proper. The two long legs of the course will be into the wind, one full-on and one w/ winds blowing from the left.. our coach tells us to get into the first two echelons or we might as well go home now. 175 riders lined up to the start under dark rain clouds and 3 degrees c.

The air smells of camphor and is tense w/ early season jitters. The race commisaire tells us that the race director's car will lead the neutralised peleton through the 1st turn (180 degree hairpin) and let us race from the other side. We are staged pretty well at the front of the field and I'm thinking, great, I'll make the first echelon no problem!".

Gun goes off, the car pulls off, and the pack goes crazy... aaarrgghh! what happened to staying behind the car?@! The 1st km. is spent recovering my spot w/ some hetchy-detchy elbow pushing repositioning when the road suddenly narrows to pass the Commonwealth War Cemetery (over 40 000 buried here from the Bataille de la Somme). After some extremely dicey riding and copious cursing, we make the 1st turn where the race is set to "start". Bad positioning on my part and I take the 180 degrees on the outside. Get out of the turn and sprint to reposition myself -- everyone else is sprinting too! I can see the 1st echelon forming ahead as we come out of the village and I pick up the pace to try to make it -- I'm on the left side of the road w/ the wind coming in from the left -- for about 5 seconds I think "well, this isn't so bad, I'm going to make it in!" and sure enough, I do.... on the left side of the echelon. Realising now that my legs have not fully communicated to my brain yet the true extent of lactic devastation, I look desperately to see if the echelon is rotating yet...no! Not only is it not rotating but an attack has drawn the echelon out into a thin desperate paceline w/ me in its centre and fading fast!! I take some comfort in the fact that I see two team-mates up ahead (they were both to puncture and drop off the front) -- I take no comfort as my legs give out as a new echelon peels off the front of the fast fading pace line. We are now only 7 kms into the race and have averaged 58 km/hr since we turned out of the 180 degree corner... ouch. The second group that I am in now gets organised and forms a good, albeit ragged, rotating echelon and we hope to reel in the group of 20 riders ahead -- strange, they seem to still be pulling away! We pass our coach who is holding up two spare wheels and yelling "allez, relance!!" (go on, attack!), obviously this man has not felt the burn of acid-filled legs in a few years!

Now the rain and sleet start! A fall in our group forces me off the road. I get back up and jump back on the bike -- but there is a 15 meter gap between me and the back of the group -- and we are heading back into Montdidier into the strong headwind. For the second time in the race, I put a hard piece of work in and do not manage to catch the back of the group -- how frustrating! I look back and see two team-mates back so I sit up and wait for them and we start a nice tight rotation. I figure we will pick up some victims of the two front echelons and reach a good size group to get a fast third echelon going -- which is what happens. What I don't know is that the field, both ahead and behind, has been decimated by abandons due to the wet, cold and icy conditions -- this will ultimately work in our fav
continued : season opener -- ouch!!philippec
Mar 5, 2003 6:46 AM
Now the rain and sleet start! A fall in our group forces me off the road. I get back up and jump back on the bike -- but there is a 15 meter gap between me and the back of the group -- and we are heading back into Montdidier into the strong headwind. For the second time in the race, I put a hard piece of work in and do not manage to catch the back of the group -- how frustrating! I look back and see two team-mates back so I sit up and wait for them and we start a nice tight rotation. I figure we will pick up some victims of the two front echelons and reach a good size group to get a fast third echelon going -- which is what happens. What I don't know is that the field, both ahead and behind, has been decimated by abandons due to the wet, cold and icy conditions -- this will ultimately work in our favour as one of the two team-mates and myself launch an attack on the last lap and come in 24th and 23rd respectively. Now, while I know that the field size was 175 at the start, I still do not know how many finished -- I suspect that will relativise our accomplishment somewhat. Anyway, it was all good fun, and as soon as I stopped shivering and regained feeling in my extremities, I actually started to look forward to the next race!

A+

Philippe
Bravo! You didn't DFL, way to persevere. nmSpunout
Mar 5, 2003 7:40 AM
DFL? From conext I know you mean...run out of steam early? (nm)jtferraro
Mar 5, 2003 10:24 AM
..dead fxxxing last. ;) nmSpunout
Mar 5, 2003 10:34 AM
ah ha! ;-) (nm)jtferraro
Mar 5, 2003 6:27 PM
I really enjoyed reading that...Frith
Mar 5, 2003 8:03 AM
Promise to post one like it for your next race?
cheers to your mettle!velocity
Mar 5, 2003 9:45 AM
Please share your next race with us as well.
Thanks for the story!CHRoadie
Mar 5, 2003 10:06 AM
I love reading stuff like that. Congrats on the good finish!