Sometimes it just ain’t meant to be…

Like in the road race at Arnac le Poste…
It’s a straight forward course but a dodgy finish. I don’t want to be in a bunch sprint, I’d like to get things sorted a lot sooner than that, but, I’m struggling to see where I can make a sucessful escape. On the second of six laps there’s a flurry of attacks and counter attacks and three of us go clear. One of the three is a big bloke, he looks like a sprinter. I’m thinking that he’ll eat me alive if he makes it to the finish with us. As we climb the drag back up into the town I go to the front and apply some pressure. I’m going hard to test the big fella. As we roll through the narrow street into town he’s a good few bike lengths back. So that’s OK then! 🙂

Out of town, the three of us regrouped and working well. A quick glance back, no sign of the bunch. I think we’ve cracked it, and I’m feeling good. Bang! and my back tyre is flat!!!! 🙁

Like next day in the road race at Roussac…
Where on earth did they find a circuit that’s downhill all the way around? OK, I know it can’t be really, but it feels like it. How’s a man supposed to escape here? I don’t do bunch sprints remember. There a few attacks, and I attack a few times, but nothin’ doin. Then, after a flurry of attacks two riders drift off the front. Now, there’s at least four Nantiat riders, and it’s not one of theirs. There’s at least three Nieul riders, and it’s not one of theirs. Surely they won’t let them go. But they do. I make repeated attacks, but I’m shadowed, and I ain’t towing the bunch.

The two stay away, there’s a bunch sprint for third (I don’t do bunch sprints), and I go home unplaced, disappointed and frustrated…

Sometimes it just ain’t meant to be…

Second French Road Race win!!!

I can’t believe I got the chance to win again. This time at Fromental. Here’s how it went…
The early 5 man break.
On the first climb there’s a break of four going clear. I jump across. We’re working, but we’re not working really hard, yet we still go clear. At the end of the first lap we have 25seconds. I’m just tapping through trying to go unnoticed. There’s two St Junien riders, two from another club, and me. One of the St Junien contributes nothing, he looks like he’s only just hanging on anyway, so I don’t worry about him. The other St Junien rider looks strong, but it’s the two from the other club that look the bigger danger.

The laps go by, now we’re on lap 4 with two to go. The two stronger riders have started putting in soft attacks to see who’s got the legs. I’m feeling good, but playing it cool. There’s a climb around the back of the course, not long, but long enough and steep enough to make legs sting. One of the stronger riders puts in a proper attack, his mate, sitting second in line, sits up. I jump hard, and chase, we are away.

Now there’s just the two of us, we’re motoring, and for the first few minutes I’m thinkin’ we’ve cracked it, but then I get the feeling that my ‘friend’ is not giving his all. What’d’ya know, here comes his buddy! Now there’s me, and the two of them.

On the next lap they mess me about. If I’m on the back, one will let a gap go, If I’m in the middle, the one behind attacks, and if I’m on the front, I’m doin all the work. I decide that working hard is preferable to constant attacks so I spend most of the time on the front going fast enough to keep them happy. I’ve got plenty of miles in my legs, I dont mind.

Out onto the last lap. With about 3 km to go I put in three hard attacks one after the other, but I can’t shake them. This is gonna be tricky. With 1 km to go, I’m on the front, and I swing across to get off the front. One rider rolls through then stalls, while the other attacks. I’m having to back up around one wheel to chase the other. But I’m being held in, as the blocking rider brakes hard forcing me toward the grass!

In trying to give his team mate a hand he’s given me the wind up I need, a red mist comes up. I come to an almost stop to get around his back wheel then I jump hard to chase after his mate. I catch him with 500metres to go, I go straight past, meanwhile the blocking rider is chasing me. There’s a slight ‘S’ bend into the finish straight, I make sure I use all the road, through the final dip, out of the saddle, and sprint…… Gotcha’s 5 lengths clear… take that punk!!!

I’m directed off the finish into a little side street where I try to catch my breath whist trying not to throw up. That was hard!

First French road race win!

A baking hot afternoon at Lussac Les Eglises. 7 laps on an undulating course to give 54km.

Three riders attack from the gun, but it’s more ‘dog let off the lead’ syndrome than a real attempt, and they are caught on the first hill. I’m right up near the front as I don’t want to miss anything. As we hit the steepest of the climbs, towards the end of the lap, the rider on the front gets out of the saddle and goes hard, I’m right on his wheel, so instinctively I do the same. He goes very hard, and by the top of the climb he has about 10 metres on me. I glance around to see if anyone is bothered, and there’s no one there!

I press on, and catch the attacker, I ride straight to the front to show him that I’m willing to work and take a long hard pull. We work together, and in no time at all we are out of sight. Then it all starts to go horribly wrong. Over the next few laps my escape partner proves very difficult to work with. Everytime we come to a climb he finds it necessary to show me how strong he is and sprint up it, leaving me to make up the gap. When I catch him he slows, leaving me to go through and do the major share of the work. Everytime we go through the finish he sprints past me to go through first.

I try talking to him, and suggesting that we work together, but it makes no difference. I can’t sus whether he’s an idiot, or whether he’s so cock sure of winning that he doesn’t care. Whatever it is, it’s winding me up. It continues, a pattern emerges. Each climb, he’ll sprint by for about thirty pedal turns, then he’ll ease, wait for me, and expect me to work. The laps go by, amazingly at the start of the last lap we’re still away, with a good lead.

As we leave the town for the last time, I’m on the front riding hard. I make it as difficult as I can for my ‘friend’. On to the first climb, here he comes, sprinting by, only this time I’m out of the saddle shadowing him. As usual, he eases and sits. I hit him as hard as I possibly can, giving it all I’ve got. I crest the climb, sit down and mash on. I don’t look around, no point, no need, I can tell from the reaction of the two lads on the quad/lead vehicle that I’ve got a gap!!!

Now, I’m giving 100%, trying to get as much distance as I can before the last climb. I use all of the road hugging the verges to keep the distance as short as possible, and also to try and get out of sight. The lads on the quad are doing a great job keeping the road clear as we fly along. A sharp corner, I glance under my arm, he’s nowhere to be seen. Onto the last climb, for the last time, out of the saddle, my legs are stinging. A quick glance back, he’s not even on the climb! I push on, less than I km to the finish, I can afford to ease a little and enjoy the moment. I’ve done it. My first French road race win! 🙂


Here’s how they describe it on the Mega website…

“Neither Cross-Country, nor Down Hill but a real discipline. Racing MEGAVALANCHE require many skills which are coming from MTB fundamentals, it means: strong, dexterity, endurance, sliding sensations, knowledge of how to manage effort and to fix well you bike, riding spirit, trajectories, flying sections, braking …

Cross Country riders and Down Hill ones will be on the same line on equal terms. Some will use their athletic power and endurance, during an hour of effort and others their technical skills on every trajectories and also go fast into tricky sections, jumps and so. But at the end everyone will fell sliding motions, using wonderful trails.”

On the glacier in the Mega

Here’s a run down…..
You start off in the snow on the glacier at Pic Blanc high above Alpe d Huez. The altitude is over 3000 metres, and even going downhill you’re breathing hard. Hanging off the back of the saddle using one foot as a ski, riders crashing everywhere. After the glacier you’re into boulder fields, with some big steps and drop offs (the most dangerous are signed). Some off them were way beyond me. After a couple of miles you are into fast single track on a narrow shelf, with the odd rocky section to keep you on your toes. Next there’s some tricky steep switchbacks. As you get nearer to Alpe d Huez the gradient eases a little, but not the speed. There’s one or two rises where you can make up time on riders on DH rigs.

Down through Alpe d Huez to the roar of the crowds! Straight out the other side onto a very fast section (uphill on your right), as you traverse around and down the mountain. If you went off the edge of the trail here you could fall hundreds of feet (I kid you not). Following a steep climb of around 200metres that saw most riders pushing you’re into superb single track with a mixture of fast flowing sections, steep switchback sections, rocks, roots. A couple of bus stops that almost stand the bike on it’s nose. It’s hard work, some riders just stop by the side of the track to take a breather!

Into the final few kms and it’s incredibly fast. The dappled sunlight under the trees combined with the dust mean that you can’t see a lot of the roots and rocks, so they can’t hurt you. ha ha! Eventually you drop out into the main street in Allemonte then sprint for the finish.

It took me 1:33:28. The winner did it in 48mins!!!!!!!

Loads of people crashed. Crashing in the snow wasn’t too bad as you slid, and as long as you didn’t slide into rocks, or get hit by someone, you were OK. I saw lots of people with slings and bandages on who crashed in the qualifier and couldn’t make the race day.

My stock Kona Coiler Deelux was great, fitted with Maxxis Minions
and DH tubes. Lots of people puntured on the rocks.

It was Mega!!!! 🙂

Thanks to…
Carla for coming with me. Yeah, I could have gone on my own, and she insisted that she was only coming with me so that she wouldn’t have problems trying to get a broken me + a van back from the Alps, but it meant I ate properley, could find things, and got where I was supposed to be on time.

Si ‘Superfly’ Paton for sorting me out with some ‘proper’ tyres and tubes. I just couldn’t believe how much difference they made.

All the people on singletrackworld that helped me decide to go do it!