The alarm went off at 6:30 am. I jumped out of bed as shouting "Gooooood mooorning Vietnam!!!!"
As crazy as it sounds I was happy to be up. I was looking forward for today's race. Looking at my reflection in the mirror and acting as a rock start I said "The name of this song is wait and win, wait and win". After last week's race I had it clear. I wanted to win and being as windy as last Saturday I knew the key was waiting.
7:30 and no one shows up at Bushy park's gate. I know Phil is driving, but where are Harry and Tom?
Waited 5 minutes and decided to go. I didn't know the route but I'm a sighted man I had the route in my gps. Problem was Strava didn't know about the floods and very soon I found myself in a closed road.
What could I have done? I didn't know any other route to Longcross so decided to go ahead. When it was not safe to ride, I dismounted and just walked. Since walking on water is not in my magic tricks pocket I ended up with water up to my knees. Luckily no one was there to see that crazy cyclist (not in Kingston Wheeler jersey).
Riding to Longcross I was imagining myself sprinting for the win. Or as part of a break away of three riders (I don't know why three) working all together. Or sprinting up the "hills" in the last lap and opening a gap with the bunch. I don't know how I found myself quoting "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning... Smells like victory". It is amazing what imagination can do because I looked at my heart rate and saw it in 150 which was pretty high for the pace I has riding on. I even got scared of getting tired just using my imagination so forced myself to think about something non-cycling/racing. Something more boring obviously.
How can I be so crazy? I don't know but luckily I'm not dangerous.
It was a (very) windy morning. So by the time I arrived Loncross my clothes were dry. My feet not completely dry but still ok.
Sign in, get ready, say hello to fellow wheelers, some minutes warming up and there I went first line waiting for the go.
What a silly thing to do!! The gave us some advices, and then they did the same with the women that were starting their race just behind us; and all the time I was there in first line with the wind blowing all for me. Freezing!! Lesson learned for next time. You can start the race from the second or third line.
The race started and all went as planned. I hidden in the bunch with an eye on the front to make sure I don't miss any break.
Short after we crossed the line for second time, just after the first left turn, when the wind eased a bit, I saw the rider two places ahead of me moving right and left too unexpectedly and I knew he was going to fall and that we were all going to fall with him. Not that being aware helped me to prepare for it because everything happened just too fast. The guy fell, the guy behind him rolled over him and fell and I rolled over them both and also fell.
It was a pretty hard fall. I flew over my handle bar. It would have been cool if I shouted "To the infinity and beyond..." but I'm afraid I said nothing. I guess in this cases the normal is to land on your face or collarbone but I don't know how I landed on the top of my head. I'm in the market for a new helmet...
Woke up. Quick check on myself and I felt ok; a pain in the back but nothing serious. There were at least three more guys down and one of them was moaning. Very calmly I look for my bike, unhooked it from two other bikes, checked it, and since it looked ok, I jumped on it and pedalled away. Not a single thought for the guys that were down. I know it doesn't speak very well of me but that was the fact. No excuses.
First thought was how far is the bunch. Well it was very far away because I couldn't see it. Anyway I pushed it as hard as I could.
|I was stopped about 35 seconds. Interesting to see how my heart rate raised after the fall|
Very soon I saw a wheeler ahead of me. I'm not sure about his name (Will?) but when I was passing him we joined forces. Very quickly we started to pass riders and they were joining us. RichardD was the third wheeler in this small peloton.
We kind of worked well all together. It was very clear that we were riders at different levels and not everyone knew how to ride in a paceline but I think everyone tried their best. I was super excited and that translated on me cheering my companions and taking turns as soon as I felt I was recovery and trying to keep them as long as possible. RichardD did great telling me when I was pushing too hard or asking me to move out when I was too tired and still in the front. We were talking to each other and I was having fun. I knew we were not going to catch the main bunch but I was happy trying as hard as I could. We passed a lot of riders and we even lapped the women's race.
With three or four laps to go we caught a TCC rider. A big guy that as soon as he got some air joined in the work. His turns were not very long but he was strong and he also talked to the rest helping to keep some organization in the peloton.
With one to go he took a big push in the home straight and when we crossed the line everyone was clapping as if were had finished. By the club house there were a few riders in the parking. We were not lapped so we stopped thinking we had finished. But the rest of the rider came and told us we still had another lap to go.
There we went. Three more kilometres. When we were back in the finish straight he was pushing hard. I was on his wheel, looked back and we had a big gap with the rest. Moved to position myself parallel to him and we both knew that was going to be a disputed a sprint.
It was a close one but I think he took it. We smiled and congratulated each other.
And the same happened when I saw the rest of the group, specially when I saw RichardD. There is a great camaraderie feeling when you have worked hard with someone.
We joined Tom, Harris and Phil and learnt that Tom was 6th. Great work!!!
I was still euphoric when I arrived to the club house so I took a few minutes to myself and calm down. Ate something and had a relaxed conversation with the rest of the wheelers before we decided it was time to ride back home.
Oh, oh, oh. The moment I started to pedal muscles I didn't know I had were aching. Nothing from the fall though, and that was a good signal.
Looking now at the numbers I found I did today my best power ever for the durations from 1:13:31 to 1:29:22
It was not what I was expecting when I woke up, still very, very happy with today's race.
The race in strava.
Javier Arias González