Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just love following real race reports from local Aussie clubbies having a crack at Euro racing

Whilst I like and enjoy Le Tour - and are compelled by strange forces to watch it - I rarely get a big buzz out of it. Most of the time I'm enjoying the scenery more than the racing, which can be too controlled and predictable these days. Sure you get the odd crazed breakaway but I miss Hinault taking everyone on in the mountains when it looks hopeless and then having a crack at a bunch sprint to boot. Or Anderson taking on Hinault to Bernard's obvious displeasure. Or Roche's wonderful set of wins, the Giro, Tour and World Champs all in a row. Or Virenque off on a wild, mad sortie for polkadot points. OK, I should let go of the past - but maybe it really was better when we saw and read less but what we got was higher quality? (And when riders actually had to learn how to change gear properly instead of going click-click-click and expecting it to "just work"!)

OK, I'm a bitter old codger. But hear me out.

These days we see too much dross and get a sanitised and false "bipolar" view. Usually it's a faked you take one side and I'll take the other style of commentary; or - even worse - the real issues are completely ignored. Yes, twitter has opened up an avenue into the rider's real thoughts, perhaps - but the "expert" analysis elsewhere is both ubiquitous and too-often trivial. As in Phil will say "I think he was wrong to do that" and Paul will say "Well you know Phil I think he did the right thing". And then they agree to disagree on that point but agree later on some inane "safe" point like "I can't remember when the French have had a better Tour". And then the blogs and social media sites are full of regurgitated, unenlightened comment, often without regard for the fact that everyone who's interested has already heard Phil and Paul's "analysis". So repeating it without attribution or addition is adding lameness upon lamenosity. Even when Paul and Phil say something insightful I nod off and watch the scenery again.

But folks, ignore the Tour for a moment and instead Google up some real race reports - from the racers themselves - battling to make a mark, a career or just have a go in Europe. They may not be professionals but they are experiencing something that is a level or 2 - or more - above what the "average" club level racer may see back home. There's more genuineness here than you will see in 20 Le Tours. Below are some excerpts from Mick Curran's Dutch/Belgian race reports. Mick is otherwise an A-grader at the Central Coast Cycling Club, 100km north of Sydney, Australia. (oh yeah, and I'm a D or sometime C grader at that club so a tad biased.) You can find many similar reports from many riders in similar situations with a quick web search. You can also find some great helmet-cam reporting on YouTube from real bike riders just having a go. 

For those who care about my Holland/Belgium stint.
Team headed to Belgium on Sunday to compete in the 58th Edition of the Drie Zustersteden!

I was a kid in a candy store today. Sitting on the line ready to start the 160km classic in the north of Belgium i was rubbing shoulders with Davitamon Lotto squad, USA Nation squad, Fuji Test Team squad along with many other pro-conti teams......then, lil' ol' me! Wink

Team plan was to be present in Early Break and hope it stayed away Undecided failing that, get Arjan Dekker up for a top 10 finish.

Starters = 200. 24deg medium wind. Sunny.

First 800mts was neutral, 200riders behind a red car itching to go. My nerves could not handle this s@#t fight again so lined up early (top 30) and bullied my way to the referee car via the footpath Grin and gaps that were not there Lips sealed

Plan worked, flag dropped and I went. Before i knew it i was at the 159km to go mark and in a break of 10 with 190 guys chasing. The blackboard told me that the bunch was continuing to chase and gap never blew out over 1min.

0-40km = early break of 10. (plenty of tv time so it was all worth it Grin ) Break did not have USA National team or Lotto represented so it was a formality really that we were caught but fun while it lasted.

40km-80km = legs felt great, stayed in front 20 and chilled (if you can chill at 50km/h)

We covered 48km in the first hour. Shocked.

For those who care about my Holland/Belgium stint.
Crit 1: Thursday 15th July. 1hr30min+2laps. Wind, wind + more wind Shocked

- Felt the strongest i've felt whilst over here.
- Found myself in peloton with break of 6 up the road @1min. Did not panic because top 3 riders were still with me.
- Ended up chasing across gap with said 3 riders and 2 others to form 11. 11 was ripped apart by strong efforts in the gutter.
- Ended up being me and said 3 strong riders. 1 was my Team mate the other 2 were continental riders from separate teams.
- Team mate went with 2km to go. Plan A = If other 2 didn't react he would win. Plan B = if they did I would be on their wheel and roll them on the line.
- The other 2 played into our hands and chased therefore dragging me within striking distance. I jumped leaving the other 2 for the win, team mate hung on for 2nd Smiley
For those who care about my Holland/Belgium stint.
Last lap = I was feeling really good and got a bit excited about the whole atmosphere and dodgem cars etc so went for glory Cheesy 800mts from home, guess what? It didnt work. I was i caught by.....let me see.......20 guys in the last 300mts Ha Ha, what a move. Still gave me 25th overall pay to 30 Wink and was just stoked again to be one of the 35 finishers out of 80odd starters.