Friday, June 20, 2008

June bilge

Matt Brett and I after Paris-Roubaix

It's been a busy few weeks pour moi. The Paris-Roubaix randonee was an amazing experience. We'd been talking about it all year and I'm glad we got our collective arses into gear and over to France for it. The pavé was the real challenge I thought it would be, but it wasn't an insurmountable one. The distance - 255km, which took us nine hours - was relatively straightforward because we stopped and refuelled at every checkpoint. Finishing in the Roubaix velodrome was the highlight of an excellent day out.

Two years until the next one...

Franja revisited

I hopped off to Slovenia last weekend for another crack at Franja, which I did last year. Ellis from Procycling accompanied me this time and we had a great time with Primoz, Braco, Mark from Holland and many many more.

Friday: rocked up, watched the rain and went to a reception in Ljubljana castle. Some wine was consumed.

took advantage of the dry morning to drive north, across the Italian border then back into Slovenia to do the Mangart climb. In total it's ~17km and climbs ~1400m via a number of tunnels, some of which are quite long.

We parked halfway up and while I descended to the bottom and started there, the others just did the last 10km. Or they would have had the road not been covered with snow with 2km to go. When I got up there I thought I was trying to tackle the Caradhras Pass out of Fellowship of the Ring. So I could go no further.

The view was amazing and well worth it.

Halfway up. Yep, it's steep.

She'll be right. Yeah.


Maybe not.

Entering the Mines of Moria on a Specialized Tarmac.

Sunday: Franja. 157km total, the last 143km was timed. 1700-odd starters in our event plus another 1500 in the 100km. It's not easy riding in a bunch that size but I managed to avoid all the crashes in the first 25km. And just like last year, by the time we hit the first climb (5km at 4%) I was in about 200th wheel. It didn't matter too much as I got into a good group at the top and we caught everyone in front of us.

Things really slowed down on the run into the second climb (6.4km at 6.9%), which wasn't ideal because a whole lot more caught back on. But once we started the climb, it thinned out quite quickly. I managed it in 21 minutes - over 3'30 quicker than last year(!), averaging about 345W. But it wasn't nearly good enough to be with the leaders over the top. I think the fastest guys did it in 18'00; I would have needed 420W to keep up with them. No bloody way. That's lower level pro power.

Speaking of pros, several of the Radenska pro continental team did Franja on the back of the Tour of Slovenia, which finished the day before. They must have been tired because they were all dropped (even those who hadn't raced ToS) on that climb.

Once at the top, I waited for a small group to catch me. Mark K was in this, so I had someone to chat to. We picked up all but 13 riders on the descent and ended with a bunch of 50 or so. There were several teams with riders in the lead, so whenever any of us tried attacking, they would chase. But whenever we weren't attacking, the pace was relatively lethargic. So it was a bit of a boring run home and Mark and I rolled in near the back of the group in 44th and 45th (full results here under 1M).

Final time: 3:35:41, just under 40km/h average. The winner did it in 3:27:09. Last year after putting a large hole in my knee two weeks previously, I was 2km/h slower and 20min down on the winner. So I'm happy with that.

Ellis B came in in just under 4 hours for 389th, which he was happy with too. Training works. And in the 100km event, Primoz and Braco served as gregarios for the Polet Ladies Team, one of whom managed second. I don't think they minded doing that job.

It was a good day out for all concerned.

Alas, we were delayed en route back to Londres by two and a half hours. Which meant I couldn't get back to Bath that night. Which meant kipping at Ellis's luxurious establishment in Knightsbridge (no he can't afford it but he shares). Which meant paying the outrageous sum of £66 to get a train home in the morning.

No comments: