A 12 hour relay road race organised by UC Flavignac.
I rode with my buddy Eric as a team of two. It is possible to race with a team of three, but we couldn’t find another rider of the right age so that we could race for the over 50s category.
Anyway, we came 2nd in category, we were 12th scratch (overall), and 3rd team of two.
It was very very tough, as the majority of teams had three riders. Plus the afternoon temperature was 36 degrees! Quite warm and sunny. I was first out, at 06:30, and after a neutralised lap the racing started. I just could not believe how fast we were going. Average speed for the first few laps was around 37kph. During my first stint I never got off the drops, and didn’t have a chance to take a drink. It was fast.
The circuit was relatively flat, though as the hours went by it seemed to get a bit hilly. There was a tight “S” bend followed by a short rise on the back of the circuit. As you came out of it it was a short sprint every lap to stay on. Tough. Changeovers took place in the “Zone de Relais”. Protocol was that the lap before you wanted to change you raised your arm as you passed the commentary position, the commentator would then announce your number over the sound system thereby paging your team mate. This was great as it meant that you could relax a little when you weren’t racing.
It was strange riding with a team mate that you didn’t speak to and hardly saw all day. It wasn’t necessary to pass a baton, or touch hands. As your team mate entered the changeover zone you could leave. The changeover zone was about 50 metres long. It worked really well, though it was best to stay alert as there were a lot of attacks here as riders with fresh legs tried to inflict damage.
We started out riding an hour a piece, but later in the day we switched to 45mins. We ended up riding in the same group as our nearest rivals. Every time they made a move we were there and vice-versa. It came down to the last lap, I had nothing left, and it fell to Eric to try to win the sprint. He stood up to go, and his legs buckled. After 12 hours of racing we got beat by a few metres.
We were more than happy with our ride, and although we didn’t win we got the better reception on the podium. The commentator asked me to say a few words in French. I thanked everyone for such a great day, and finished by saying, “Il est chaud, mais il est beau”. The crowd seemed to like this couplet, and I got a cheer and applause!
It really was a superbly organised event, in a gorgeous spot next to the lake – “Lac Saint Fortunat”. It’s the 20th birthday of the event next year. Highly recommended. A must do.
Thanks to UC Flavignac for a great day out. Thanks to all the riders for a tough sporting race. Well ridden Eric (we shared a couple of cold beers after the race). Finally, well done to the “Chef d’equipe” Carla who looked after us both all day. Not an easy job, but she was fantastic.