Yep, the B’s are coming
This is the ToC
The temptation of closed-flat-roads of Cambridgeshire enticed many of us on Sunday 5th June to head off to Peterborough, for an 85 mile Gran Fondo. Welcome to the Tour of Cambridgeshire!
Some of us were there to race to gain a place for the UCI world championships in Perth, Australia; others were there to enjoy the sunshine and the delight of a traffic free roads.
As the last bacon sandwiches were scoffed and cups of coffee slurped, we all headed to our respective starting pens. After initial discussions of how we would stick together, the large bunches in the first few miles soon meant we lost each other and were left to our own devices.
Let’s get this right
A common misconception is that Cambridgeshire is as a flat as a pancake – incorrect! The odd hill kept appearing especially over the first half of the ride, before the flat, perpendicular roads kicked in. After searching for about 35miles for a suitable tyre to jump on, I finally found the perfect wheel which came just in time before the persistent head winds hit! With the competitive spirit well and truly in gear, we whizzed past cheering crowds enjoying the sunshine, along the banks of never ending ditches, and finally over the finish line.
As team Baroudeur we’re reunited, sharing stories or water shortages, crashes and speedy times were shared as we waited to see whether qualification text messages were received.
– by Becks ‘Boony’ Greig.
The usual suspects
I blame Daddy Cool
When Daddy Cool rode the Tour of Cambridgeshire a couple of years back, he put in such an effort, that he doubled up and got sick at the finish line. And he’s been trying to get us to race it ever since. That was the horrid image that went through my mind as I quickly registered for the race, and something I vowed not to experience myself. After all, I’m better prepared, entering with 10 team members – our brave DC did it solo, and I have a very hungry new racing bike to battle with – the Faber, Impel.
As a UCI recognised event and one of the few actual races that reward you, I haven’t seen so many road cyclists gathered in one place. I’m told that over 6,000 participants are taking part. And, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect day to race your bike. The sun is out, we’re on closed roads, I’m on a new bike, and free to enjoy it all with very good friends.
Unfortunately, the team is scattered across the starting line, as we are organised into our age groups. I find myself separated from the B’s and waiting in the starting pens for an hour. You’re surrounded by people doing their own thing to focus. Some are sitting; some are standing; many are in good spirits and are deep into conversations; others have their team mates to chuckle with, and still others who just wait in silence. I peculiarly find myself in the latter group. Instead, I have the race commentator for company. He has a familiar and encouraging voice, one that I can’t place, but he’s been around. He doing a good job of motivating the troops before they are released onto the roads. As our group lines up, he saves the best praise for us. He announces to the public that they shouldn’t be misled by our age; we are the most competitive lot here and have a number of ex-pros in the mix. I’m feeling fortunate to be in the mix, and still feel I need to earn it today. A South African cyclist by my side notices the pink bike, and with a smile shares an admiring few words with me. Then suddenly, we’re off!
“Come on my friend!”
I had taken the Faber on a 100 miler across some great roads in the Cotswold’s just a week ago at the very worthy, Cyclists Fighting Cancer event. It had proven itself well, as a stiff and giving bike at every turn. Today it helps me manoeuvre to the front of the bunch. We stay together for about 5 miles, before the split. The pace is relentless. I find myself fighting to keep a wheel and participate with a group that I can work with, but every rider is riding for themselves and the carnage continues. You lose count of those who you pass, but notice those that come around; so that you can quickly pounce and join them moving up.
The Captain’s Gold
Cambridgeshire is renowned for being flat, but the punchy climbs break the groups up even further, and I find myself in a select group of riders trying to catch the break. I’m feeling strong, so separate from the group and ride my own pace. A man with a tribal tattoo on his right leg comes with me and we work together, passing group after group. I quickly register that the people we pass are from the younger groups, and are the spoils from our cats break. They must be absolutely flying.
From cool to fool
I insist that I’m okay and to get me back on my bike. They’re not sure if I am, but to be frank, neither am I. With only 12k to go, and the adrenaline kicking in, I want to do the club proud and see if I can suck any more juice out of the Faber.
UCI, ya feel me?!
I ride with a pack up one of the hills, and am pleased to find there’s more in the tank. We come to the finish and I am relieved. I can’t find the Baroudeurs, so I make for the Ambulance Services. They’re a friendly bunch, and patch me up in no time. All three crew: medic, nurse, and doctor insist that I get an x-ray to check my collarbone. The wounds are deep, but the joy of cycling this course is nothing short of magnificent. Once they hear of my news, my heroes roll up and take care of me. We find a spot in a field to recover and recount our battles. We discover that I’m not the only one who’s suffering; the Red Panda has had her own battle with breathing. Thankfully she appears later, lies in the soft, soothing grass and exhales. Within moments we get ping after ping on our mobiles. It’s a message from the organisers. We discover that 8 of the 11 of us have qualified for the finals in Perth, Australia.