Sunday, April 27, 2008

Springtime / La Scott 1000 Bosses

With temperatures steadily reaching the high 60s, and daylight sticking around until 8:30 or so, two weekends ago after going to the baptism of the son of friends Michael and Karolina and a bbq afterwards on Saturday, Sunday (27-Apr-08) Jason and I met up for a 5:45 a.m. start and drove out to Lyon in neighboring France for the Scott 1000 Bosses cyclosportif. Originally we had signed up for the 139km (86 mile) distance; on the drive down we decided on the 85km (52 mile) distance. It turned out to be a good choice (despite my riding a practice 140km and 70km on Saturday and Sunday respectively the previous weekend into nearby St. Cergue and La Cure). When we got to Lyon, there were cyclists everywhere, and the setup was very well organized with banners, booths, etc. When we arrived at registration, we were shown where to go to switch to the shorter ride. At first the guy said no problem, then "c'est past possible maintenant" which means: it's not possible (for you to switch) right now -- I have found, not an atypical French response to breaking from the norm. Still, he managed to give us new bibs. So back to the car to change we went. Making it to the start corral a few minutes before 9, we proceed to wait about 15 minutes to actually take off. So off we went, 150 meters to the "real" start. After about another 5 minutes of waiting and trying in vain to understand what the announcer was saying in French over the loudspeaker (about all I picked up was: thank you all for coming out here, and: you must wear your helmets at all times, we were really off. It was a moderate climb right from the start, but nothing too big, just enough to get the heart rate up. I rode with Jason for about the first 5km. Then I decided to catch on to some climbers and try to ride with them. I managed to stay with this elite (not really, we are all just weekenders really) group of about 5 guys with various others being caught and hanging on. They were all a little lighter than me, so I felt good to keep up with them over the first 3 peaks. Actually it was more like, we all take turns pacing each other up the climbs, then start to descend. None of them was really in for a quick descent. So each time, I proceeded to shoot by everyone as they hit the brakes until we hit the next climb at which point they would catch me in the first kilometer. So we repeated this until the base of the last big climb of the day. After crossing a set of railroad tracks, my computer went out at about the 50km mark (the big dip in the map). Naturally I tried to fiddle with it. Only problem was that this was right before the steepest little kicker of the day, I got caught out in the wrong gear and never managed to regain contact with the group I had been with nearly the whole time. It's like they all got a little burst of energy and decided to get up and stomp up this little section. I was devastated, but I thought, no worries, I'll just push a little up this last set of climbs and catch them on the descent and roll into town together -- which was fine by me since at that point I was still optimistic that I would meet my goal and come in under 3 hours at around a 30km/hr pace. Not so fast said the cramp that would force me to keep the pace slower than I would like the last 35km. I did manage to catch a few riders, but never could really hammer. I came in at 3:13, 250 out of just over 450. Not too bad considering its early in the season. All in all, it was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, and my farmer's tan is beginning in earnest.

This past Tuesday, probably the worlds shortest 2km prologue of the Tour de Romandie rolled off from downtown Geneva - I jogged down near the lake at lunch to see the setup, then headed to the race after work. Today, after riding up to St. Cergue with Jason and Darcy, I took the train out to see the finish of the race in nearby Lausanne. I barely made the finish. Actually I made it to the Stade Olympic in Lausanne just in time to catch the sprint on television from the press area. I made my way around to see a few riders come in, and caught the podium presentation. Andreas Kloden won with his team Astana taking team honors. Rumor has it they are to be allowed at the last minute in the Giro D'Italia. Maybe I'll see them roll through Paris this July too. Otherwise, all quiet on the Geneva front, days are getting longer and warmer; it'll be great to ride this summer.

Lastly, positive news from work: contract renewals were approved.