While in France I was able to join a local cycling club in Sorezè. I’ve tried to do well for them in several events up till now but every time there has been one excuse or another… crashes, missing the break etc.
Feeling a little stronger of late I decided to head out with the club president Hervé to race a local criterium event near Toulouse.
Brooke came along to hand out bottles and yell some incomprehensible words of encouragement… or was that abuse!!??
The race was a 60km criterium on a 2.4km circuit and there were prime-sprints every 5 laps or so, for money and/or prizes.
Here in the non-pro roadie scene they have categories 1 to 5 and I am in the 5 (the default for 50+ oldies, although the federation can start moving you up if you perform too well for your age group).
They started categories 1 & 2 together and then a few minutes later the 3, 4 & 5 categories rolled out en mass.
About 50 to 60 riders in our group on narrow roads with several squeeze points that really slowed the tail-end of the bunch each pass.
Being called to the line last meant our category was at the back, so I decided I had to work my way to the front 20 or so riders of the peleton to have a better ride.
Made it out there during the first 5 laps, others racing for the sprints but I just let them play a little to hopefully soften their legs. Each time they sat-up after a sprint and I’d be hitting the front and working with several others to keep the pace, with a rest back in the bunch every now and then.
It seemed there were less and less riders willing to attack towards the last quarter of the race so I started planning an escape…. probably a stupid thing. Anyway, a few guys keep attempting to get off the front for a while without success, then there seem to be a duo that were getting away, so I jumped and manage to get across to them, shortly after they decided it was not worth their effort to stay away, as they were heading back into the peleton I keep it going for a bit longer, noticing that I was now on a sprint lap with the bunch looking at each other, so I push the pace again and managed to make it across the last prime-sprint with about 50 meters spare.
As usual the bunch sat up after the sprint then 6 riders decided it was time and they started trickling over to me, noticing we were getting a gap and then the attack was on in earnest.
We roll over really well and get a good gap, with the peleton even out of sight during the shorter roads sections.
In the final lap we started seeing the slightly shrunken peleton again when a couple of the fellow attackers started sand-bagging.
I see that the bunch was edging closer and our pace was still dropping. I had taken note that I was the only 50+ rider in the group so thought “what the heck” and jumped on the front and kept the pace going enough to stay away from the accelerating bunch. Didn’t matter where in the break I finished, as long as we stayed away I had the category win.
Of course the serious sand-bagger made a run for the line with about 200 meters to go and my tired legs were just able to increase speed enough to hold onto 5th over the line!
1st in category – 5th over the line
and last prime-sprint for €10 and a free pizza voucher!