It is said that when it matters, “arrive early”. This couldn’t be more apt than for a cycle race. With senses are required to reach dizzy heights later on for that mean-hour of speed on the track; a great way to get ready is to relax in the sunshine with a cup of tea and a team mate by your side.
Ben has found his spot. It provides a view of the commissars; track; arriving of team-mates, as well as a chance to see the current race unravel. It’s ideal.
As each Baroudeur arrives, there’s a moment to say “Hello”, ask how everyone’s doing and mean it. It isn’t lost on other people either; as we wave and greet people who’ve come to race. I can’t help but think we’re fortunate to have this opportunity in the summer, but there’s a part of me that believes we’d still be doing this even if it were in the middle of winter. The social part, anyway.
Throw your hands in the air
Unwinding is essential. For us it takes shape by way of enjoying the preparation. Not just in terms of kit or racking up a good sweat on the rollers. For some it can take shape in figuring out your goals for the evening; getting the race wheels on, or having a good stretch: DC likes to stretch his arms in prep for his win. It’s yet to come, but he’s positive it’s going to be just a matter of time.
The field swells with racers and though the nerves are twitchy, there’s an overwhelming sense of confidence in the LBCC. It’s messy to begin with: people searching for their cleats before first climb approaches; it’s a rush. As we crest the climb and prepare for the tempo is set.
Digs come from all directions. Both individuals and teams take a chance and have a go for the break. There’s a few Baroudeurs in the mix up front pouncing at every given moment. Suddenly there’s an attack and the peloton is decimated straight down the middle. It’s not till Ben is accompanied by a group that the difference is made.
An alliance is quickly formed and before you know it, they’re away. As the laps go by, I am lost. Have we caught up? Have they dropped back? Or are they away?
With 3 laps to go, I am totally disorientated by our standings. The only place left to go is up front. I manoeuvre forward, but time is running out. Position is everything at this stage and the head starts to pull down my confidence. Only a lap to go. Don’t give up now.
The Kicking and the Shouting
Unknown to us, the battle up front is unfolding. Ben reveals to us later that one man in black rallies the group together. Shouting at this evening’s alliance of escapists to kick again and head for the finish line. It works. At the final stretch, the alliances are broken and each man goes for the line. It’s blinding for the racer, as breathing hardens and legs thumps one more time for a win. Ben manages to keep others at bay, but not before three others pip him to the line.
It’s a fantastic result. 4th out of 80! And on a alu-Cross bike, meant for rougher rides. Chappeau to the Escapists! Our best result yet.