What's Cool In Road Cycling

Homeboy: Application of Gray Matter

Sorry for the delay in my diary again – I’ll use the excuse of no car, one bent derailer and the European work philosophy. Europe’s laid back atmosphere is something I like, but when summerish time rolls around, the tendency for random off days of various important establishments of business, ie. bike shops, creates some problems. Add onto this the lack of a car and using public transportation which only stops in Hertsberge 4 times a day created a mini-adventure to find a bike shop. Hence most of my day being taken up and the delayed diary.

So this week I decided to apply the use of my brain power, some good form and a bit of luck into an alright performance. The scene is a Kermese race in Deerlijk on a cool, breezy and darkened sky day typical of Belgium. Arriving at the race after 40 kilometers of flat riding I’m greeted with the first hill of the day in Deerlijk. Of course the race was going to be going over this – (ring in the ominous voice from Field of Dreams) “If they find it they will ride it!”

The race was looking to be strong at warm-up, with over 100 racers on the line for the start. To complicate the situation, the race did 8 laps of 8.7 kilometers then 8 more laps of 5 kilometers, but you didn’t pass the real finish line till the last 8 laps. Trust me, it may seem simple now, but when you have three drunk Belgians all trying to tell you what the race does, all at the same time, all in slurred broken English, you feel like you need a mathematics degree just to race a bike.

Start of the race I take some cues off of Michael Creed, recent interviewee of PEZ (read his interview here), and followed his lead at the race start. The course turned out to be suited very well for me, with a lot of areas to hide and the climb was more suited to the lighter power riders like myself. I was able to make the first move of the day with about 8 other riders, but we were caught on the top of the hill, as the field was still very fresh.

As soon as our break was caught the counter went with another 9 or so guys including Michael Creed. This turned out to be the move of the day with all the guys staying off the front for over 100 kilometers. I sat in the field, watching the packs movements and waiting for the moment, the elusive moment where your instincts and intuition tell you when to make the move.

It’s always been a fault of mine to instinctively just go after a break establishes a good time gap. As you are just pissed off and all you want to do is make your worth proven by powering up to those guys. Well in this world called reality I can’t do that, no matter how much my head tells me. The last year I have been much better on biding my time, reading the race (road races are so much more complicated to me than track races, but then again that was my forte for almost 5 years) and letting my gray matter between my ears do some thinking rather than the adrenaline glad.

The moment came about an hour into the race, the move went and I was there. I just followed when I knew I had to and before I knew it there were 10 of us up the road with an established gap. Not only did I pull the right moves in getting there, but once I was there I did all the right things to make sure I didn’t destroy myself to the benefit of the other riders, I did my fair share of the work, but I didn’t push my pulls past my limit.

So, fast forward through one and half hours of rotating pace lines, constant attacks and 15 more guys bridging the gap. At one lap to go I was happy, I was still with the break group, only 12-15 guys were up the road. That original breakaway was always within 10-25 seconds of our group the whole day! I was feeling very good and a prepared myself to sprint.

Going up the hill I kept from cramping up, established myself in third to fourth spot right before last turn. From there it was a straight 300 meter shot to the finish and I was ready. To my dismay while going into the last corner a Belgian decided he could corner faster than me through the slightly off-camber turn. The result, one rear wheel of a Belgian slamming head on into my front wheel and I went down. There went my good position.

I recovered enough to grab my bike and run the last 300 meters of the race to the finish before the field caught up. I was pissed, there went any chance of a top 20 and I had to settle for 33rd place. Well that was the quickest end to a great ride I’ve had in a while, but then that is bike racing. You take them as they come.

Funny story was the ambulance medic that cleaned me up after the race was the same one from last year when I broke my collarbone! I better stop becoming a regular of his service, but at least I know it’s good service.

Till next week!
-Gregg Germer-

Gregg’s Links:
Team Site: www.cyclingcenter.com
Personal Site: CyclingLinks.com
Shopping: Pricepoint.com

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