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Thrills and Spills

June 05, 2013

I write this on the ferry back to Belgium after a pretty busy May on the bike. I raced in Belgium at the Circuit de Wallonie, then in Italy at the 5 day Giro della Fruili (Featuring 2 stages in the dolomites) and then the An Post Ras in Ireland. It’s been pretty hectic and has all kind of blurred into one a bit but I’ll try and recap as briefly as possible. Here is the waffle of it…

Circuit de Wallonie went quite well for me. I was in the day long break and was out front for a good 160km only getting caught inside the last 10km. The race featured 5 ascents of a 25% climb. It was a tough one. Especially for one of the guys in the breakaway who pooed his pants going up the climb the final time. The last 10km after that was a bit hardcore and I questioned my life choices. I was completely shot by the end of that race and could barely cycle back to the team cars. Two days later though I flew to Italy feeling slightly better and a whole heap rejuvenated upon arrival in Milan airport (We saw models there!).

Into The Dolomites

The Giro della Fruili is the most beautiful race I have ever done. The 3 flat stages (flat by Italian standards) were run off with the Dolomites as the backdrop. Unreal! The 2 mountain stages actually went into the Dolomites. That was ridiculously unreal and I considered taking my camera with me in the race. However I decided against this as it is frowned upon. I suffered through the mountains and survived them in gruppetto which was no laughing group I tell you. I disengaged my brain for the descents and followed wheels. Those boys definitely know how to ride a bike downhill. The flatter stages I rode aggressively and made the day long breakaways on 2 of the 3. Unfortunately each came back for a bunch sprint which was set up by Team Colpack for the Italian Nicola Ruffoni. He was short, fast and head butted me in the hip on one occasion! Our boy Edward Theuns managed to win the KOM jersey, proving he is a man of many talents and a complete animal. It was great to experience Italian racing and I was grateful for Vl Technics for providing me with it. I left Italy with a heavy heart, vowing to return one day, find myself an Italian wife, live in the mountains and eat pasta all day long. This dream was soon a distant memory as I walked out of Charleroi Airport at midnight to pouring rain and a brawl between two Turkish families.

I then had 5 days to unpack, pack and recover for the An Post Ras in Ireland. I would be riding this race for the Iverk Carrick Wheelers who had kindly given me a spot on their county team for the race. They were a great bunch of guys and did a lot to help me out over the week which I was really grateful for. I haven’t laughed so much on a stage race in a while and was quite sad to say goodbye to be honest. The first win of the season managed to come in Ireland though! Woop woop! On stage 1 I managed to breakaway with 20km to go with 1 other rider. We held off a gap of about a minute before I won the 2-up sprint to the line. I was over the moon to get the win and multiple swear words were used in my celebration. It was great to do it in Ireland as well with a lot of friendly faces watching ready to congratulate me. I don’t think I will forget that day for a long time. The next day I wore the yellow jersey as leader of the race, was an honour to wear the leaders jersey of the Ras.

First Stage win First Yellow jersey

My legs continued to feel good in the 8 day race and I was hopeful of maybe getting another stage win. Unfortunately bad luck came to me on stage 5 with 10km to go. The guy in front of me hit a pothole and instantly face-planted the ground which is an inexcusably dumb thing to do. I then flew through the air over him and came round lying in the middle of the road feeling very dizzy after a bit of a whack to the head. My head is actually hardened from many door frame collisions so I was back in the game quick enough. I finished the stage but it was my race over as x rays showed a fracture to my elbow. I was a bit pissed as I knew that I was in good form and it was annoying to have to stop riding but such is life.

I then returned to the UK via the Canadian national team and an overnight road trip with the DS. It’s a bit bizarre to drive through the night and watch the sun come up. It always feels a bit epic but I kind of like it. A week of turbo training, seeing friends & family and generally sleeping then followed. This was nice and was actually a welcome break, mentally and physically. I’m hoping that I can regain some sort of form in time for the National Champs in 3ish weeks.

So that was May. I have probably missed a few interesting details. Oh yeah I saw my old friend Matt again in Ireland before he disappeared off a cliff on his bike. Minus the broken rib, he was fine. I also managed to finish my second piece of Open Uni coursework. Very unsure about how well I did in this one. I managed to isolate my house mate Josh for 2 weeks. As I return to the house today I wonder about his mental state. I’m hoping he hasn’t started a dirty protest and begun preaching to people in the street like last time. My little sis is also playing the French Open at the moment (for the juniors!). She is currently in the second round and apparently faces an ‘ogre of a Spainish girl next’who is the favourite to win the thing. Good luck with that one Katy…!

Anyway thanks for reading. Also thanks to The Dave Rayner Fund for helping make it all possible! I will now attempt to drive through Belgium without stopping for frites.


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