Yeah!!! I made it onto the podium in second place! Don’t get too excited though, I was second in the over 60s category. However, I did ride well, and I thoroughly enjoyed the race. The 25th edition of the Frederic Mistral. One big 42km circuit around the magical mystical and very beautiful Monts de Blond.
How’d it go? I rode a measured, safe, calculated ride. I had a plan and I stuck to it. The plan was to take it steady for the first hour to hour and a half then turn it up. I started steady and found myself in the company of two other 60+ riders. One of them dropped his chain and had to stop, so I knew he was behind. The other was right in front of me. He was riding well, so I stayed where I was and shadowed him. I played it a bit cute, I didn’t want him to know I was there. I didn’t want to take it on too soon. With an hour and a half gone I was looking for an opportunity to sneak by. There was a sharp bend, and moment of confusion two or three other riders, I slipped by on the inside and upped the pace. I didn’t see him again. I pushed on hard thinking I was leading 60+ vet, but unbeknown to me there was another who finished some 7 minutes ahead of me. No matter, I had a fab day out, and loved every second of it.
Imagine a 4 hour car journey through some of the most beautiful countryside in France in glorious sunshine, stopping for a picnic along the way.
Imagine arriving at the race site the evening before the race and kitting up for a couple of practice laps. Know that the weather has been good for months, and the ground is bone dry.
Imagine one of the best mountaibike race circuits you have ever seen. Now imagine one better! It’s was fantastic. A great start area that favours no side leading to some moorland with sweeping off-camber corners, bombholes, super fast straightaways, the lot…..also add in that the taping/marking out are superb allowing the rider to be creative with line. Follow that with 3 kms of superb roller-coaster singletrack that draws you on faster and faster. I was looking forward to racing this circuit so much. I went to bed imagining racing, and racing well.
Imagine being woken in the early hours of the morning to the sound of thunder and torrential rain! The rain continued throughout the night. By breakfast time it was still raining. I made my way from the excellent B&B back to the race site. I changed my tyres in the back of the van. The drop in temperature from the day before was incredible I was cold…..and still it rained.
With about half an hour to go the rain stopped. With twenty minutes to go we were gridded for the start. I was on the third row. Bang on time we were away. I got a good start, held my place up the first climb, passed quite a few riders over the moorland. It was wet. Diving down towards the single track was a little slippy, and then…three kilometres of singletrack on foot. The overnight rain had made it unrideable. A total nightmare. It was a procession, impossible to pass, difficult to even stand in places. Each lap it got worse. By the final lap the mud was like glue. If you tried to carry your bike you could hardly stand, and if you pushed your bike the wheels clogged up and wouldn’t turn.
I finished well down in the twenty somethings. I was not happy. My bike was in a real state. Drivechain and disc pads trashed. To add insult to injury the sun came out!!! Imagine how I felt.
Yep, it’s the Limousin region mountainbike championships, and I’m invited to ride! I don’t have great form, though I am improving. I don’t have many race miles in my legs this season. But, I’m gonna go and do my best.
The race is at Beynac in the Correze at the Etang de Miel (Lake of Honey!). It’s a beautiful spot, and the weather is fabulous. The circuit is 7kms, fast, flowing, dry. I like it very much. I’m guessing between 20 to 25 minutes a lap, and we (vet Bs) are doing 4.
I’m gridded on the front line! I wasn’t expecting that. We’re going off together with the Vet As. I’m sure there’s some faster guys behind me. I’ve clocked all the Vet Bs on the front line, so I know who I’m tracking.
I get a great start, and as we leave the arena I’m on the wheel of the leading Vet B.
It’s very fast. Along the fast forest track in the dust over the rocks there’s riders everywhere scrambling to get the best wheel they can before we hit the tarmac section that will take us to the first real climb.
First place seems to be easing away, but no panic, I’m sat in a group containing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. We’re moving quick. As we continue through lap one we change positions, but nobody makes a move. Onto lap two, a rider from the Correze kicks. I go after him. Now it’s hard, very hard. My throat is burning, I haven’t tried this hard in a while. By the end of lap two we are clear. I’m looking at a podium finish.
Then, it all goes wrong! I seem to be going backwards. Dominique from the US Nantiat comes past, I can’t hold him. As we go out for the last lap I’m gone, and within the last 2kms I drop to 5th. I’m almost 5 minutes off the pace. Ouch! What a kicking! Thanks guys! 🙂
But, it was still a great day out, and still great to see a lot of racing buddies who I haven’t seen for a while.