Thursday, 15 October 2015

A case of 2 criteriums - Part 1

An account of the 2 criteriums I took part in. A sea of difference.

July 17th, 2015 : Belzele, Belgium

In the previous race, I could savor the improvements in my form. I lasted more than 80 kilometres in the race and was super-duper confident that I could carry this momentum to finish my next  race.
Oh, how badly had I underestimated the Criterium racing scene in Belgium.

The course-
A 1.6km course with 3 acute angled turns. While warming up, I made a mental note regarding all the road furniture along the course - 2 potholes and 5 barriers which had extended slightly onto the road.

The race-
I knew the race would be hard considering the sprinting prowess needed to survive and I lined up with a "Can do" attitude backed up by the confidence gained in the previous race.


As the gun went off, the 50 riders (The limit in Belgian criteriums) sprinted to approach the first corner faster than a Perigrine Falcon! Without a proper warm up, my skinny physique floundered to match the massive watt bombs being dropped in the course. Exiting the corner I found myself being the turtle of the race.

No need to panic. Surely, I can move up..

Or so, I thought.

The stretch between the first and second corner was less than 700 metres in length but had 3 of the barriers extending about 5 feet into the road, forcing the bunch into a bottleneck. With the road being only so wide, I found myself facing a wall of riders with no crack to move up ahead.

With prize money on offer for the first few laps, the lead (read: bulky) riders darted when exiting the third corner towards the start/finish line. I was amongst the last 5 riders in the bunch and struggled just to stay in contact with the bunch.

Lap 2 was slightly relaxed because of the absence of the initial acceleration. Despite the reduction in velocity, there was not sufficient time or space to improve my position and I quickly found my self as the lanterne rouge!

No, this can't be happening. I have the momentum from my previous race.

In laps 3 and 4, I was desperate to place myself in the top 10. I divebobmed each corner, not giving mind to the dutch slurs being spewed at me. I almost knocked down a safety barrier. I offered prayers to all the 1 crore (10million) deities of the Hindu religion!

But, it wasn't meant to be. In the 5th lap, no amount of guile nor desperate prayers could save me from the inevitable. My physiology was no match for the job requirement and I had to abandon.

Moral of the day : Momentum is a cruel mistress

To be continued..

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