It’s my favourite race. Made the podium for the last three years. But not this year.
Training had gone well. I had a new bike. I was well up for it. I’d pre-ridden the circuit twice in the previous weeks. But it was just not to be.
I warmed up well, got a good start and established myself near the sharp end. The leading vet B was just a few places in front of me. I was in no rush. He punctured after about 5 kms leaving me in front. I just continued to ride purposefully. My old mate Jean Claude caught me at around 15 kms. He passed me and opened a gap on a long climb. No panic, I worked hard to keep him in sight, and pulled him back a little on the flat.
On the long climb up from Arnac I can see JC, he’s about a minute ahead. There’s 15 kms of tough trails left to go. I’m planning on making the most of it on my Specialized Epic. Like I said, I’ve pre-ridden the circuit, I know what’s coming and I’m up for it.
But then, I start noticing that something is not right. The back end of the bike feels soft. Yeah well that’s because the rear shock has lost pressure! I pull over and try to get some air into it with my pump. It works a little, and I remount. Within a few minutes it’s soft again, and I’m bottoming out.
I have no option but to pull out. If I don’t the last 15 kms will trash my bike. I’m gutted. At the next road crossing I leave the race and head home. Just to cap it all, I get a punture!
Back at the race village I watch the riders coming in, and imagine what might have been. You know, that bike has been great all summer. Only ridden for best. Not a single problem until today. It turns out to be just the shock sleeve that’s come loose. Fixed in a jiffy by a mechanic who knows what he’s looking at.
Meanwhile my friend James had a great ride. Him being a good rider, visiting me just to do this race, and very keen to beat me…. oh and he’s the machanic too. See what I’m saying? 😉