Sunday, August 22, 2004

Nearly Time

One week to go until Journo World's! The trick is actually getting there. I've got most of the journey planned via Europe's extensive rail network, but I end up in Verona at 5:37am on Saturday morning after an overnight train on Friday. The race is on Sunday then I come back Monday with another 15 hour train trip. What fun that will be.

I think the hardest part could be getting from Verona to my hotel in Bussolengo (about 15km), but I'll try to get a taxi. Of course it would have been easier to catch a cheapo flight, but none of them were really suitable. Some wouldn't carry bikes, others went from Charleroi international airport early in the morning, and there's no way I want to go there. Charleroi is a town for laying down and avoiding.

Anyway I've been gripped by Olympic fever this week and gold, gold, gold etc. Very thrilling. I have five or six channels covering different or the same bits of the Olympics, so there's never a dull moment. Actually the track has been OK with 345 world records being set in the opening four sessions. Go Ulmer, Meares, Aussie pursuit etc. They should have a trivial pursuit at the Olympics. It doesn't have to be long - maybe only 2-3 metres. But to win you have to answer a stupid question like how many of Bill Shakespeare's Pies or Monkeys does it take to bash out a meaningless blog once or twice a week? I know the answer to that one.

The racing fixture of choice last week was in Evergem, and I won't go into too many details but I probably will anyway. There were 71 starters, up from the 21 last year (where I finished 20th due to the stem coming loose and another guy puncturing), and this was surprising. Apart from the usual suspects, viz. Willems and Cocquyt, there was also a German team from Germany: TEAG Team Kostritzer, and a Luxembourg team from Luxembourg: CCI Differdange. Why? I dunno. Don't they have homes to go to?

It was also incredibly windy with the odd rain shower. 19 laps of a 5.8 km course, with the finish straight all light pavers and the back section a bit rough. I stayed out of trouble for about the first half, and 16 had got away by then. In the second half myself and a few others went about launching an offensive against the Germans, who were blocking things as they had two guys in the break. They would jump on every attack then slow the pace down to 30km/h. Sorry, you don't do that in a kermis!

Four guys managed to get clear through sheer bloody mindedness, then three more, and with about 3-4 laps to go I got away with an Irish guy named Rory who basically dragged me up to the next group of three. He kept signalling for me to come through but if he wasn't going to slow down to a respectable pace there was no way I was gunna fall for the three card trick.

Anyway, the five of us got working and put a bit of a gap into the German-led peloton. We got the bell with 2 laps to go and on the last lap we could see the Germans coming back. Bugger that for a joke. Rory and I worked pretty hard to keep our noses in front and Rory did this ridiculous turn for the last 2 km. I was on his wheel, and again I had no gas to come past despite frantic elbow flicks. I could see the bunch wasn't going to catch us so I signalled for the other three guys to come round and I rolled in for 25th behind them. Rory got beaten by two of them and was annoyed. I dunno why. If he's going to do a stupidly hard turn for the last 2 km then he's got no excuse!

I went to get my money but number 37 had already claimed 25th (I was no. 57). I explained to the judges that I came in ahead of the peloton and they admitted they could have buggered it and believed my trusting, honest face and gave me a bit of dough for 25th, but I didn't make it into the official results.

I was still a bit knackered on Sunday (today) for the Berchem ride, but did it anyway and just tried to take it steady as I still want to race on Tuesday (last one). It was good training, and Eddy, Guido, Guy Callens and I were doing most of the work. We had eight(?) left at the end this time, and one guy who had not done a single turn the whole day had the nerve to sprint. I ask you. But Eddy was onto him like a flash and as I was on Eddy's wheel, it was the perfect leadout for the dash to the café. Actually Eddy waved me through once he caught the other guy, so justice was done!

If I can do that in Verona next Sunday I'll be happy. But the main thing is to do the race and not have any mishaps. I'll try to remember to pump the tyres up and stuff.

Video clip of choice: Another Day, by Ruff and Jam featuring Nina Babet. Tres amusing. "Your driving's a little on the edge, but I like a woman with character" says the driving instructor to Nina after she trashes the car by pursuing her ex-boyfriend, who she spots with another girl early on in the piece. And it's filmed in Antwerp (or is it Amsterdam?)

No comments: