Wifey and I got his’n’hers trophies when we raced the Haute Vienne Departmental VTT Championships on Sunday. But racing can be cruel can’t it? 🙂
First the wife – This was her first race in years. See, she doesn’t really enjoy racing, she just likes riding her bike, something she’s very good at, and something that’s not gone unoticed. She was ‘leg hunted‘ then ‘sweet talked’ into racing by Theo, the president of a local club who loves to see women race!
Anyway, she put in some good training, and given the horrendous conditions on the day she did a storming ride to take 2nd place. She told me straight after that she’d hated every pedal turn, it was too hard, and she never wanted to race again. Then wha’d’yer know, by the end of the prize presentations Theo has worked his magic and she’s agreed to do the Regional Champs, the National Champs, hell! she’s even signed up for a 24hr race.
Now me – I really wanted to win this one, I really did. Gridded on the front row of the vets race (vet A >40 and vetB >50 raced together), they counted us down with 5 seconds to go, we were gone on 2. I led out of the field, riding hard. Into the woods my friend Eric Monjoffre came by, I grabbed his wheel. Out onto the road section 5 off us were clear. Jean Claude Sansonnet came by, I took a short rest on his wheel before jumping to be first off road.
Now we were into the meat of the first lap. I dismounted early for a muddy run up, I was still in the lead at the top. Back on the bikes there’s now three of us going clear. John Claude, Olivier Desissard (remember him? the scratch winner in the St Junien VTT race), and me. Out onto the open hillside, it’s tough, i’m trying to find traction, Jean Claude comes past followed by Olivier. I’m working hard.
At the top of the course I’m a couple of hundred meters off the lead. The rocky descents are covered in a film of mud but I’m motoring fast, and I’m getting it right. Along the short valley and back up into the arena. The commentator is saying something about Jean Claude. As I cross the line, there he is with his back tyre flat. I dunno how long it’ll take him to fix it, but I have to make the most of it. I try to lift my pace.
On the greasy, muddy, rooty, rocky, hateful second lap climb to the top of the course I’m aware that Marcel Buisson is not that far behind me. I can hear spectators willing him on. On long straights I can see him. I really need to get out of sight. It’s hurting.
On the run up back into the arena I can see quite a way back down the course, I’m clear. Going through the arena and out for the last lap someone shouts me that Olivier is not far in front. Out onto the road section for the final time, spectators are telling me that I’m clear, nobody in sight. But, I wanna make sure, and as I’ll never have to climb the hateful course again I attack it. I can see Olivier the leading vet A, looks like he’s about a minute ahead.
At last, the top of the course, all the hard work done. Onto the rocky descent for the last time. Skimming over the rocks I get a kick in my rear wheel, it steps out, and I feel a gentle bisou (kiss) on my rear rim. I cross my fingers, but it doen’t help. She’s flat! I don’t know whether to push on on the flat or stop and change it. My mind is made up for me when the tyre comes off the rim.
Time suddenly goes into warp speed, my hands turn to banannas, and it seems to be taking for ever to change my tube. I have my new tube in and I’m blowing it up when Marcel passes me. “Ce n’est pas vrai”, he says. With just enough air in I jump on my bike and give chase. Down the last desent like a nutter, but as I reach the final run up I can see Marcel disappearing over the top. I’m beat. Racing can be cruel can’t it? I’m first loser home in second place.
So what happened to Jean Claude? – well, he got his puncture fixed and got back in only to puncture again, and a third time. This is bad, because it means his selection for the national championships in May now rests on his performance in the regional championships in April. Racing can be cruel can’t it? Very!
About that puncture – I’ve been running tubeless tyres for a while now, and they have been great. However, being thorough in my preparation I set a spare pair of tubed wheels up with more knobby tyres in case of muddy conditions. It was only after my warn up, and at the last minute that I switched to the tubes. Even then, it’s only the second puncture i’ve had in a race ever. Doh!
Not forgetting – Many thank’s to everyone at Saint-Léger-la-Montagne VTT Rando Club for puuting on a great race. 🙂 ….and thanks to the Barboriers for the photos. 🙂