Category Archives: International

Autumn Series Finale 2014

During the autumn season in the Tarn (district #31) the FSGT, Federation Sportive et Gymnique du Travail, puts on a cycling road-criterium series.
There are five races in the series each with a race distance of approximately 60km, for my category #5 anyway, with laps between 2 and 10km in length.
Due to my travels and visitors, I had so far only been able to race two out of four.

The final race in the series was in Villaries on the 5th September, again near Toulouse, and I managed to get myself there to ride and Brooke to come along to be bottle-bitch and general support along the side-lines.
At the previous 2 races I attended, I finished in a 1st and a 2nd place, which had moved me up into 3rd overall in the general classification of the series with 25 points, 3 points below the shared 1st & 2nd spots.

Luckily for me the two guys, Gerard & Serge, who beat me in the previous race had not raced before so were starting with fresh scores and a bit of catching up to do.
For me to get the series win I had to finish on the podium today and neither of the guys that had 28 points were allowed to finish in front of me.

I realised during warm-up that both the faster (and older) guys, Gerard & Serge, were there, so I had to make sure I’d keep an eye on them and get into a break with either or both of them.
Then when we were lining up on the start-line, I noticed the winner from the previous race, Gerard, had been put up a grade into category #4, so there was only one guy in my category (that I knew of) who was stronger than me, especially on the climbs.

Lucky for me the climbs were less severe than last weekend, and a couple of laps in I knew it was really only Serge and a couple of others who had the legs to attack the climbs, and after neutralising some early break attempts, I ended up chasing some prime-sprinters to the line and ended up in front, which was a perfect sign for three fast guys, including Serge, to jump across to me and we started a break.
All four of us worked hard to get away from the bunch and a couple of laps later it was clear to me that Serge was still stronger on the climbs than all three others in the break and true to form he managed to loose us on the 2nd final lap climb.
I could not chase him and knew I didn’t have to for the series points, so sat in and worked with the other two to stay away from the bunch.

Of course this meant my side-line support gave me hell, heckling and calling me all sorts of names, and loosing interest a little… just kidding Brooke.

Making sure I didn’t attack too much and didn’t just stay on the front, with some very strategically placed “pretending” that I was completely bugger during the beginning of the last lap, I couldn’t have planned it better, as on the final climb the next fastest guy attacked thinking I was toasted, with the third guy chasing and I sucking hard on their wheels.
On the final run in to the line, it was a fairly flat/down run-in, they started winding it up and I made sure I wasn’t on the front. Wedging myself into second wheel until the very last 200 meters, then winding it up and crossing the finish line in 2nd place behind Serge who was probably already relaxing in the cafe 🙂

Anyway, as only Serge got more points on the day and it didn’t matter who finished behind me, it meant that I had enough points accumulated to get 1st spot in the overall series classification.

It does mean they moved me up a grade for any future races, not that there are anymore road events, I may end up racing some cyclocross.


Enjoying some spoils

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.

Bleeksie and Soreze club president Hervé

Brooke came along to hand out bottles and yell some incomprehensible words of encouragement… or was that abuse!!??

Brooke as support to Bleeksie in France

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.

Pins Justaret criterium

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.

Pins Justaret criterium

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!

Podium girls and Bleeksie

Bleeksie asked to speak, being the Aussie visitor

Club president Hervé and join gun (beaten by Bleeksie) rider Sebastien

Showing the Belgium young guns how it’s done

Karl & Tom 2014 Belgium

As two of our 3FIDI members, Cath & Craig, recently finished their Euro stint, they handed over the Belgium representation to our Kiwi member Karl.

In the last two years Karl has been competing in a big event called the BKRC Challenge, organised by the Royal Brussels Kayak Club.
In the organisers words this challenge is a “endurance-type raid-form of triathlon”, and it includes Kayaking (+/- 6km), Trail Running (+/- 8 km) and Mountain Biking (+/- 38 km).

Because this is a teams (of 2 or 3) event Karl joined forces with Brussels-based Australian and long time Adventure Racer Tom Crebbin (pictured below in 2013 with wife Karen), friends of Tom and Alina, and racing under the name KIWOZZI in 2013 they finishing in 3rd spot on the podium (photo below).

Tom Crebbin 2013


Being all fired up by the experience of beating 100+ other racers to the edge of the podium, they upped their training this year to give it another go.
A few weeks ago I did get to enjoy the fruits of their labor, by joining in on a few pre-race training rides with Karl & Tom, after which my legs felt like they had gone through the wringer… ouch!
If Karl & Tom are this strong, other teams beating them would have to be seriously powerful.

Tom explains:

The 6km paddle was in the slowest double plastic kayak imaginable and we managed to bash out the fastest time.
Next was a 9km trail run, we got that done in 54 mins which was also the fastest time for the day. This really shouldn’t have been that us old farts run the fastest time 🙂
Then there was the 37km VTT (Mountain Biking) which took us 2hrs 2 mins. At the start of the ride we had a nice lead and put on a fast pace just in case. Then the dreaded call, “My back tyre just punctured!” came from Karl and we scrambled to get a tube in as the tyre slash was too big for the Stans to seal. This little circus cost us ca. 5 mins otherwise we may have whacked out the fastest time there also, we got 2nd fastest by 1 minute. Karl is incredible on his MTB, constantly pushing me to my limits and him barely breaking a sweat!
[artistic licence may have been implemented here by Bleeksie]

Even with the 5 minute loss due to the forced rest-stop during the MTB leg, they won overall by about 10 mins ahead of the 124+ teams including serious young insects… sponsored and all.
And in true Belgium style there was plenty of post-race beer after and bubbly plus a huge cup as prices.

Great work guys!!!!

Top spot Belgium 2014

RBKC 2014 booty for 1st

Full results with split timings:

Haute Route Triple Crown – Piglet!

After 21 days of climbing – Dolomites, French Alps and Pyrenees – Paul Hamblett has secured the inaugural Haute Route Triple Crown. Along the way he’s spent plenty of time on the podium – his 1st place on Stage 1 of the Pyrenees was particularly impressive.  With 14 days already in his legs – he overwhelmed all the fresh starters who were only doing the Pyrenees event and he’s maintained form for the whole week.  He finished off with another win on Stage 6 and secured 2nd on GC for the Pyrenees.

The 12 months of solid training has clearly paid off.   But it’s also resulted in some upper body shrinkage – so the 2013 3fidi HauteRoute jersey is a little baggie and wasn’t worn in anger.   Not surprisingly, Paul seems to be more committed to the sponsor’s jersey – Azur Cycle Tours.

Anyone interested in trying to wrestle the triple crown off him in 2015??

Piglett’s on FIRE

In 2013, Stacie and I were in a “team” – 3fidiProCycling – in the HauteRoute Alps in company with Paul Hamblett (aka Piglett).  Despite only having had a little over 6 months of training on the bike, Paul easily outperformed his teammates – who limped into the end of each stage to find Paul – relaxed and composed – showered, massaged and ready for lunch!

Paul’s big engine results from a long history of high level competition as a rower.  Coincidentally, he shares old mates with Alwyn – from their rowing days on the Thames.

This year, Paul is back for more – he’s spent much of the last 12 months training – in the UK and around Nice.  In 2014, he’s riding all three HauteRoute events – 21 days of climbing over three weeks – 7 days Dolomites – ONE rest day – 7 days French Alps – ONE rest day – then 7 days Pyrenees.  The total distance isn’t long – a little under 3000km BUT includes over 60,000metres of climbing!

After 3 stages in the Dolomites, he’s podiumed twice and is currently 4th on GC.  The photo below shows Paul in company with the chase group early in the climb of the Passo di Gavia on Stage 3.

Sitting at 6th wheel, he’s displaying typical Piglett behaviour – reaching to the pocket for FOOD.  I’ve never known anyone with a bigger appetite.  Clearly the food worked – he rode away from all these guys over the 17.5km climb to finish third on the stage!

Piglett HR Dolomite 2014 - stage3


Tonight is the ITT – Stage 4 – up the Stelvio – 1550metres elevation gain over 21 km.  Paul is particularly targeting the ITTs – pure uphill efforts.  With less than two years of cycling in his legs, he’s still not at ease with the descents and typically loses time on them – so tonight’s the night – 100% uphill!  You can follow progress here – he’s Bib Number 2.