Sunday, June 12, 2005


Zegebloemen. Could be handy.

I think this is a first for me: winning flowers in a bike race. In Australia, you get money, occasionally a trophy or a medal, but very rarely flowers. I hasten to add that the LFT race at Kruishoutem is a couple of levels down from your average kermis, but it's fun to do. I'll have to go back to the Saturday Schelde rides now, or they'll get sick of me! Maybe do a couple more of these for training.

The weather was better than last week in that it wasn't raining and the wind wasn't quite as strong. It was a crosswind on both front and back straights with a tail and headwind over each of the bridges. We had more starters - over 40 I think - and I didn't spot the guy who beat me last week, although Mr US National T-Mobile team jersey was there, and a couple of the other guys who were in our little break last week.

My Cunning Plan A was to attack after about 5 laps and ride away alone. I didn't have a Cunning Plan B. Unfortunately, Cunning Plan A fell into a bit of a hole, because the speed was a lot higher this time (we were six minutes quicker than last week), and in true Belgian style, the break went after 200m. At the end of lap 1, there were five guys with about 10-15 seconds, and two more bridged up to them on the second lap.

I thought the bunch might bring them back, but the chasing was very stop/start and no-one wanted to close the gap. On the straight at the end of the third lap, everyone slowed down and the seven in front started to ride away. Sigh. It was already 20 seconds and I knew we'd have a bit of work to do to catch them, so I went hard going into the corner before the first bridge, lost about a minute taking the corner at a stupidly low speed, then accelerated as hard as I could over the bridge.

At the top, I saw I had two companions, including a younger guy in Quick.Step gear who I knew from last week, and we rapidly picked up a fourth guy who had tried to get across on his own. He'd also lost his bottle on the first lap, and asked me for a drink when we caught him. Happy to oblige, although I don't know what he thought of my cold tea and water! He was a bit useless anyway, because whenever he'd do a turn, we'd lose a lot of speed.

It took us two laps of fairly hard chasing to latch onto the leaders, and that meant we were at Lap 5. Prudently, I decided against executing Cunning Plan A, and instead opted to roll with the break. We had a really nice, smooth rhythm going, and all 11 of us were working. You don't get that often in a kermis, unless you're in the front group. Then I realised I was in the front group.

I now had Doubts about executing any Cunning Plans at all, because the cooperation was so good and the average speed was over 40 without us working particularly hard. I knew I could average about that alone, so it was gunna be tricky. I was also embarrassingly bad around some of the corners until later on in the race when I stopped using the brakes. Not easy when there's gravel and large grooves in the middle of the corner. All the others seemed to be confident.

The 1 hour point is always a critical time in a race, because the speed tends to drop a notch as people get tired. In pro racing, it's often when the break of the day is established, and in kermis racing, it's usually when the break has gone but the bunch has decided to stop chasing so hard. Thus, I thought it would be a good time to attack after an hour or so. The peloton was at 1'10-1'20, and definitely not coming back.

I actually waited another lap in order to refuel on some dextro-energy tablets - probably a waste of time in a race this short - and then took off on the first (tailwind) bridge again with about 3.5 laps to go. I had half an idea that this would cause a bit of a split in our break, then I could attack a smaller group later on. But no, I looked around on the other side of the bridge and saw that no-one had reacted at all, and the group of 10 was still together. C'est la vie. Now to execute the latter part of Cunning Plan A.

At three laps to go, I had about 15 seconds but I was quite worried that the Others would ride a bit harder and pull me back. Took on board some more dextro-energy tablets and cold tea and nearly hurled, because it's hard to eat when your HR is 93% of max. I still had 15 seconds at the end of the next lap, so that was good.

On the second last lap I started to die as the tablets tried to digest themselves - I don't think I'll bother with them if there is a next time. I lost a few km/h and had about 10 seconds coming into the final lap. Fortunately, the tablets did their job and I picked up several more km/h on the final lap and I could feel that it would be sufficient. I got to the top of the second bridge with about 1.5 km to go, looked back and saw the group had only just taken the corner at the bottom, so that was a good 30 seconds. Good.

I was rapidly catching one of the grades in front of me and I didn't want to interfere with their sprint (they actually had another lap to go), so I slowed right down and sat 20 m off the back coming into the straight, checked that the Others weren't coming back, and rolled across the line with a very, very modest wave. Well, it made up for last week!

So I got some flowers and three kisses from the organiser's wife, which was very nice. Also got quite a few "proficiats" from the other guys in the break, who agreed that I'd attacked too early. And Andrew Benson's begeleider (sorry, I still haven't got his name) as well, who asked me before the race if I was going to win. I'd told him I'd try!

We rode back to Gent together and he admitted to me that he did have a problem with his weight, and if he lost 30 kilos he'd actually be competitive. I do feel sorry for him, because he's only a kid and he should not be that large. He knows it and is fully aware that it'll lead to health issues when he's 50. At least he races, and he did 90 km today so that's gotta burn off a few Big Macs. He said his problem was junk food (his school is almost right next to McDonalds) and a very undisciplined diet, even though he does eat salads. I suggested that he eat a more balanced diet with lots of veggies and keeps riding. Lots. 30 kg = 255,000 calories = about 15,000 km. Holy hell. That's the excess that he needs to burn off, providing that he can keep the rest of his metabolism in balance.

I didn't tell him about my diet, which is quite balanced but also involves a fair amount of ice cream, beer and chocolate. But almost no fast food, because even I realise the dangers of eating Turkish döner kebabs. A home made curry seemed to work for me!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations with your victory in Kruishoutem. Your curry must be very good.

Greetings, Philippe Blanchaert.

Jeff Jones said...

Thanks Philippe! Nice to get some flowers at last :-)

Yes, my curries are not too bad, because I learned from a master (dad). Recipe is further down the blog somewhere...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I read your blog just after my email to you.
XXX (also 3 kisses from me ;-)
Killin' Kimpje

Jeff Jones said...

Thanks Kim!

cheers, Jeff

Anonymous said...

Shades of the Penrith open, 1996...


Jeff Jones said...

Dunno if I remember that one. I think I won B grade in '92 or '93, but that was with another dude.

Anonymous said...

Hmm yes. Dunno why I thought it was 1996...