Sereilhac semi Nocturne

My first actual proper road race in over three years tonight. 35 laps of a 1.4km circuit around a small French town. Sprint every 5 laps. Two dodgy corners, one with recent road repairs and gravelly bits, one with manholes and awkward camber.
Lined out through the start/finish.
About 50 riders, it’s a UFOLEP 3rds and juniors. Those of you who race will know that 3rds and juniors can be a bit dodgy, so resolved to stay near the front. BTW cost 3euro to enter on the line, and you get a coke, a chewy bar and a pen!!!

Called up onto third line at start. Got up within the first 10 riders and stayed there as best I could. Had a few digs early on, nothin doin. Two riders escape about 20 laps in, I have a couple of goes to get across but cant do it on my own.

There’s no lap counter, just the bloke on the PA shouting at us in rapid French. Carla is there shouting to me in English, but there’s so many other wives, girlfriends, brothers, dads, etc also shouting that I haven’t got a clue what lap we are on.

Eventually I sus that there’s 7 laps to go. The two escapees have built up a two minute lead, we wont see them again. 6 to go and four of us get a gap. We work hard, but the Nantiat rider is not happy with the Nieul rider, and amongst all the shouting and swithching I forgot what lap we are on!!! Doh, Curse my old stoopid brain!

I reckon we have one to go, surely they’ll ring the bell this time, the St Junien rider is on the front, I know he’s gonna make it hard up through the finish, and I glue up to his wheel and brace my self. We fire up through the finish, and as we cross the line everyone cheers, and he sits up. It’s the finish! I’m 4th!
No bell!

So, a success, and a cock-up at the same time. Whichever, it was great to be back racing, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 🙂

London to Paris

“The London-Paris Cycle Tour 2007 finished in Versailles, Paris on the 30 June 2007. Completing just under 600 km in the three days, the ride was hailed a great success by ex professionals Sean Kelly and Johan Museeuw. Riders from all over the world attended; with countries such as the USA, Australia, South Africa well represented.”

London to Paris flags

It was fantastic, thanks to everyone who sponsored me. I enjoyed every single turn of the pedals, even the ones in the rain. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would make it, and although at times the pace was incredibly fast there were times when it wasn’t.

Here’s some of the things that stick in my mind…

Sean Kelly – to ride alongside the legend was priceless. Sean entertained the peleton with his antics throughout the three days. He had a knack of teleporting himself from one place in the bunch to another.

Johan Museeuw –Johan could only make the first day, it was great to meet him. How many riders can say that they were towed back up to the bunch by Johan Museeuw? Well, around four, ‘cos that’s how many times the great man went back for people.

Straight talkin’ Aussies, and South Africans – they tell it like it is, no offence meant. “Just ‘cos you’re ridin’ like a w4nker and I told you, no need to get upset mate!�.

French motorcycle outriders – brilliant! How do they ride standing up looking backward in traffic with such skill? They ride so close, but you feel safe, knowing that they are looking after you leaving you to concentrate on riding.

The rain on day two – Any fool can ride properly when they are fresh, on a nice day. But when it’s raining, and you’re tired, that’s when it counts, that’s when you find out who can ride. It was an experience to see how the pros and ex pros handle it. Me? I stayed as close to the front as I could and hung on. Made it onto the grass on one wet corner, but stayed up!

So many other memorable things from the three days, the effortlessness of bowling along on French roads in the heart of a fast moving bunch, the camaraderie of the riders, the friendliness and patience of the support staff and mechanics, the speed of the breakaway I got into on the last day, the people who waved and cheered as we passed through the towns.

I had trained for months for this event, I had the miles in my legs, and for me, riding L2P was the icing on the cake, something to be enjoyed. I loved it.