Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Bishop Auckland Crits 2014

My adopted life of leisure came to an abrupt end tonight when I lasted almost 25 minutes of a 45 minute city centre bike race at Bishop Auckland. They call it a criterium (or crit). A kermesse in Belgium.

With the rain lashing down all tropical like this morning, I was happy that it remained that way in the vain hope that the race field would be smaller and slower, but it was a bonny night in the old Durham town.

I dug out the old Condor and clipped myself in for what we were about to receive...mostly pain, racing heart rates and breathlessness; a bit like climbing the stairs with your shopping.

There were around 40 riders and a good crowd in attendance. The 3 streets forming a flat circuit was fenced off and we even had a motorcycle outrider. Men squeezed into impossibly shiny, dayglow lycra and riding bikes that cost more than half the cars on the road.

My best lap was the first, as it was neutralized, and I lapsed into a casual swagger, if such a thing is possible on the razor that goes by the name of a saddle. The commentator was giving it some over the speakers and after a handful of laps I was not at the front, but not at the back. It was around lap 12 or somewhere that one of the two others I was with said 'here comes the field' as the motorbike came past; but a lap later they still hadn't caught us. And then, at the chicane, rider 1 overcooked it and came down clattering on the flagstones, rider 2 followed and I realised I was rider 3 and had nowhere to go but eat some pavement. I was soon up and off though leaving the other two to sup some dust. I was a little disappointed when I got myself together that I was not bleeding from the arms and garnering the sympathy vote or the prize for gutsiest rider.

After 9 miles, 23 minutes and who knows how many laps, my luck ran out and the twelve man peleton came past. Lapped, I had the good grace to pull up and cash in my transponder and numbers for my racing licence. Not to be put off, I'm having another crack at the weekend; this time it'll be through the mean streets of Hartlepool. I'm in pretty good shape; just not twenty one. Let's crack on anyway.

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