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Whitmore Square crits.

I haven't been feeling too well since the TDU.  Life was going good so i decided to ween off the happy pills that I'd been swallowin for a year or so.  It went OK for a while but then the bastard crept up on me, disguised first as physical ailments, then an increasing need for rest and an intrinsic fear of all things that might hurt a wee bit....just like it did the first time!  So...the Trek's been adorning the bike-rack in the hall rather than eating up the glorious Autumn roads just over the horizon.  Tut tut....HTFU man!!

I haven't raced for ages and last week when i went out on a fast group ride I was ridiculed by my peers for having the noisiest bike known to mankind...when i don't wear my cochlear implant I can't hear a fuckin thing and when i do, i have it on a setting that drowns out constant noise so,  the sound of a loose chain, headset, bottom bracket
,et al was news to me.  I took it in for a service and it felt like a new bike when I got it back on Friday so I did an awesome 100km with a big Cheshire cat face as soon as i picked her up.  Saturday morning was supposed to be a slow spin but when an Ironman Tri mate of mine flew past on his black low profile Stealth Machine I just had to tuck in behind for a while.

So...not an ideal preperation for a Sunday race but we thought we'd give it a whirl. I'm entered in a graded Criterium with first seven in each Grade through to a handicapped three lap wheelrace over three laps (about 2700 metres) with $1000 first prize..

Last night, I fell asleep in a pool of dribble and Jim Beam way before the Poggio and dreamed that Dodger Rogers had won. I checked his Twitter and found that it was indeed a dream but subliminally I wasn't too far off the mark.  He wrote that he could've written a book about today's Milan/SanRemo race, something about a crash in a tunnel.  Hmmmm!! I feel that is the same for every race. Every ride has a story, every race is an epic, cycling is beautiful even if you're a 50 year old C grade rider lining up for a Twenty minute plus two lap crit in Whitmore Square on a sunny Sunday morning.  Last time I put the Zipps with the very expensive Continental Comp Tubulars on I got a flat on the ride down to the race so i had to decide between putting the Trek in the back of the PdC Volvo or riding down and racing on some Ultremo trod Dura Ace wheels.  I chose the latter as riding to races is what i do...I can't be arsed with all of the poncing about on rollers or having spare wheels perfectly balanced at the opposite side of the track to where you blowout....not my style.

Yay!!  Saturday night and the locals felt a need to throw bottles at Bus Shelters again leaving bike lanes strewn with diamonds...I have a theory that Bus Shelter repairers and Bike-Shop owners are in collusion on this one. So...five minutes from home and I'm riding back on a shredded Ultremo and plan B becomes Plan A but I decide to ride down on the Zipps and throw fate the challenge...god-dammit, these pills are working!! 

Whitmore Square is one of the five park-land Squares the Colonel William Light pencilled in for Adelaide when he surveyed and planned it 175 years ago. Being the closest square to the market place it has had quite a Bohemian existence and in recent rather than older history has probably been more famous for being where the drunks hang out.  Old buildings became hostels and sobering up units, pubs became a little seedy and the strippers from the pubs also opened up business establishments nearby.  Recently it's had another metamorphis, with modern appartment blocks springing up and the pubs employing baristas rather than brasistas...the sobering up unit's still there though so sometimes racing there can be a tad tricky, especially when the sun is high and the Bottle Shops open up.

I don't know how many of you guys have ever seen a local C Grade race so I'll try and set the scene.  C grade in Adelaide consists of gnarly old dudes like myself,  some of the best young Chickie babes in the State, some fit kiddies that can be relied on to hot up the pace from lap 1, the Korean Junior Women's track cycling team, a lot of guys that look like they know how to sprint a lot better than me and a couple of guys with hairy legs. The circuit is 900 metres clockwise round a two lane wide city square with kerbing cutting each corner down to one lane surrounded by lumpy yellow mounds of concrete. Must be 45 starters in C...I have my Implant on so I'll hear the bell but I ask if there's a two lap to go signal too just in case and am told it will be signalled...cool.

We're doing 45 friggin kilometres an hour half way into the first lap...strung out more than most of the guys sleeping things off under the trees in the square. Each corner the concentration needs to be so intense to keep your line and several near misses occur in the first few laps and the pace is relentless. A group of four kiddies make a break off the front and I decide to stay with the pack...about four wheels back but on one corner I'm shunted back to about 10th...it was like that every corner for anyone who slackened off or lost concentration. I looked at the Polar and realised the wheel magnet must've slipped after 29.2 seconds and my heart was doing 162 ...not much in reserve so i decide to ease off and drop back a little when the pace slows as the break is caught.  Then...whammo....my implant stops working and I'm in a cone of silence among 44 angry bicycles and i have to quickly re-aquint my brain with some sort of equilibrium.  There were several other escapes attempted but I stayed with the train until I felt confident to start getting a little assertive.  I thought I'd missed the preme sprint as it normally comes about half way and we'd ridden at least 15 minutes by my estimate so  i started position myself for both being able to see the Two laps to go indicator as now hearing the bell was nothing more than a Quasimodo dream.  A big green fuckin flag is what I see as i go past the Commissaires on the very next lap....my brain convinces me that this is in fact, the two laps to go indicator so i surge to about fifth wheel to mark any moves. The four guys in front of me gun it and I'm thinking that this is in fact the finish so I make sure i finish fifth, curse my deafness and head to the outside to pull off then realise that nobody else is....it was the preme sprint you cloth-eared numbat!!

Composure regained but a lot of wheels to claw back I settle back into the business of picking a good wheel to follow and making sure not to get caught behind any of the chickie babes...they tend to be not quite as quick on the acceleration and cause gaps..not good when the pace is 48km/hr. Strike me pink, next lap I see a marker board with a big number 2 on it, so I flicked her down into the 14 and settled in the drops for the run to the line.  I'm fifth wheel at the bell and the front four's arses look awfully familiar but a glance over the shoulder reveals another twenty or so still in with a shot of the top seven.  Two bends before the finish and a second echelon challenges down the outside...mainly the kiddies.  Two lines became one as we zipped together seamlessly at 50km/hr but unfortunately a touch of wheels and two were down...two became four and I was bunny hopping bodies and just managed to avoid the carnage.  Being a Paramedic I always glance back and have to mentally stop myself from stopping the bike so I crossed the line fifth...a long way off fourth and a long way in front of sixth. At least I qualified for the Wheelrace.  As soon as I finished I backtracked.....all of the guys were OK...lots of road rash and sad looking bikes but no serious injuries thankfully.  We averaged 43 km/hr. B grade averaged 43 too but A Grade was motor paced for 10 laps and a lot quicker.

So...I was off 150 metres in the wheelrace.  The guys that beat me were 10 and 20 metres in front of me as the handicaps were worked out from the whole season and I'd raced mainly in B's...and the scratch guys didn't need binoculars to read what was written on my arse either.  Still being in the cone of silence I didn't have a clue what was going on so when everyone else got on their bikes so did I...well, at least I tried but my cleats were clodded up with dirt...this is perhaps the main difference between professional and Ameteur n'est ce pas!   I had time...we had to ride to the start and be led to our marks by our sponsors anyway....well la di dah!!!  Three laps minus 150 metres...I had to catch the guys in front of me to have a chance so I started in the same gear I finished the previous race in...a 53/14. The gun went off and I imagined i was Shane Kelly, (minus the infamous Olympic Games foot pull of course), head down, arse up and making a face only my mother would love. I looked up and there was a thirty metre gap in front of me....I spent the next two bloody laps chasing that gap, nobody went past. Half way round the third lap, the scratch guys ate me up and i sat up...I was doubly spent and only passed a couple of guys with their hands off the bars.  The four guys who beat me in C grade made the first four places, I just couldn't make their train!!

The Winter road racing season starts in two weeks....not that that means leg and arm warmers just yet here in sunny Adelaide....25-32 degrees and sunny tends to be the Autumn norm....glad my brain's working better again. 

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