I called Chris Hemsworth up after this race. I asked him – what would Thor have done? Would he have hammered it (ha-ha – cue studio laughter)?
Ok, no more bad jokes, I promise. This is road racing – serious business!
Val David is a great little race nestled in a charming little French Canadian village, ice cream sandwiched between a river and le Petit Train.
I have fond memories of cruising at 25km/hr on a 400km ride last summer along the Petit Train. Today the metaphor is mixed in a Betty Crocker kitchen supervised by the evil queen from Disney. It’s a balls to the walls, let it hang out, drop dead on the first climb love affair.
Well, for me at least.
We car pool up talking life, California and business, sign-on, meet the rest of the Martin Swiss gang and discuss the race. It’s a perfect day, sun’s out – we’re feeling the morning chill (mountains init) but this is not a malfunction of the day, rather an invitation to treat.
But it’s not the train today I’m interested in, it’s the experience; to see exotic places and meeting fascinating people. There’s no shortage of smart folks, motivated folks, and generally good people. I wish there was more time to mingle at the race, but for most of us it’s time squeezed from the toothpaste tube of family life, and we’re straight to business.
I take a little spin to warm-up the course. Check out the first hill (apparently significant) but it looks benign enough. I guess it was a bad idea to spend all my time warming up thinking about Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but these things happen.
The good thing is that I’m feeling chilled and relaxed, and I enjoy the camaraderie on the start line, take a couple pics, and live in the moment.
It’s go time before we know it and a short downhill and a false descent on a wide open road is too much to resist. Before I know it I’ve drifted to the front of the line, I mean, the front of the race, and crank on at 40plus. I know I shouldn’t, but I put my back into it and go. It’s a great feeling, fuck, I love being at the front. The minutes tick by, then we approach the turn, the hill and it’s all over.
Oh jeez, here we go again. I’m pushing max power, going uphill at 25km/hr, but it’s not enough, not even close. And guess what – I lose contact. On the first hill. Unreal!
The hill absorbs all my energy, and I literally go from the very front to the very back of the pack.
“Perdere le ruote” – What’s going on Mr. Laforge!
I work hard to stay in contact, but little by little the crushing forces of inertia destroy my chances and I’m forced back into a defensive mode and just hang on. I round a couple of corners on the home straight of lap 1 and get directed up the hill and a moment later I look around and realize I’m not on the race course anymore. In face I don’t know where the hell I am – looks like the friendly neighbourhood of Mr. Roger’s poorer cousin.
Sheet, this is a damn fine doodle. Now what! I use my super powers or navigation and manage to find my way back to the main straight on the out bound leg, totally skipping the start/finish line in the process. I also manage to get ahead of the pack and end up somewhere with the M3’s – or at least so I think.
Well, that doesn’t go so well either – I get dropped on the hill (I’m still going 25km/hr UP it!) but that’s not enough. No sir. Back to defensive, back to motor pacing. Except this time I have buddies. We hook up, a ragged band of the demouched – and work together. I try to take as long pulls as possible on the front, and we cover a lap, lap and a half together.
Eventually they fade, I continue, and hook up with the next groupetto, and so on and so on. Finally towards the end of lap 7 I connect with some old dudes on old gear (one has a steel bike with shifters on the downtube, sweat bands on his wrists and forehead and total neon kit. I kid you not. Max cadence 65).
I love it – we work together until they stop working, and then I’m the only one doing anything resembling effort. I eventually slow to a crawl, weave back and forth across the road, but fuck me, they still won’t take a turn. These guys have a bad case of “succhia ruota”!
They freeload, and on top of it all one of the guys takes it upon himself to be the hall monitor of our little session, yakking away at us to keep right, do this, do that, jeez. Now I’m getting pissed off. I tell him to take a turn sharply in more than one language, we have words, and then the main bunch laps us.
I finish with the 7th lap, and feel good about the effort. I join my team-mates who have already pulled up and we cheer on the rest of the racers.
There’s a nice uphill sprint to finish, and there are some big, big efforts being laid down to get to the top. The boys all finish well, looking strong – this is a great workout for sure, and it seems everyone has improved on their performance from last year.
There’s still no beer (race organizers take note!!) at the finish line, but we chat, and joke and hang out for a while revelling in the afterglow.
Then it’s off to find beer or ice cream or chips or all three. Good times with Team Martin Swiss.
Thanks guys for a great race day!