29 April 2012

Who me race?

This was supposed to be a picture of the men's finish, 3 guys battling it out at the finish . They are visible if you zoom. The next picture was of my foot, so I think I had a senior moment after taking this.

Story behind the picture
The bike club I belong to had it's annual road race. The past 4 years it was multi day race including sleeping in another town one night. That is pretty cool. So they scheduled to try for 5 days, 6 stage tour .


Then they got more ambitious going to international races and in the past six months:
-one day road race in Rwanda
-sent a team to 6 to Rwanda to train with their national team for 3 weeks
-sent 4 guys to All Africa championships in Eritrea
-sent 6 to tour of Rwanda for a week
- sent top U23 rider to South Africa for 2 months with UCI training camp

The outcome was all other countries invite us to their races and invited to attend UCI camps, and National team was sent 10 new bikes, etc.the other outcome was the club is broke as a club, and sponsors said we have given enough.

So all that to say that the 5 day stage race was pared down to 3 days, then in the end a one day race. I had stated I didn't want to spend 5 days racing but as nothing much was going on that day I went along to the race for the ride.

Prepared? You kidding. I drank too much, i ate whatever, and when I got up I found the crank bearing froze on my rode bike.

I couldn't believe it. It was froze, then it would move but barely. So I somehow managed to get the bottom bracket out, then i got the sealed bearing out and soaked it and then it was pretty good but not 100 % free and I rode off to the start.

There is a category for over 45years and i am 56 and the oldest of 5 in that category. Mike tells me I have to beat Frank from Bagamoyo.We all get in buses and go 70km to good road. More waiting and standing around.

My plan is to try to hang on the first 35 km to the bottom of the rift valley escarpment, where we climb like 300m steeply over Manyara National Park.

For some reason the real racers decide to start out fast and furious, well fast for me. There are several rollers and by the second I was out of breath and heart was redlining and I was thinking "whoa, I cant do this much longer". I think when they go up a hill they increase effort by 20% but 50% for me.Luckily it was gently rolling and the adrenaline wore off a bit and I caught my breath. There were occasional spurts that made me nervous. We were now down to 40 riders.

Thad and Mike weren't visible and I was hoping they were hanging on the back. I was trying to stay mid pack and off to the side. I was nervous about crashes. Frank from Bagamoyo and Jax from Dar were visible. Frank said he felt good.

There were a few sketchy place with road under repair and a section with some potholes. About the pothole time a kid next to me suddenly swerved and his bike slid towards me and I heard a horrible crash.

A few seconds later I could look back and I saw the second half of the peleton stopped and 10-20 bikes down. Ouch. Frank had been right behind me and went down.

We now crested the ridge of Losimongori and had a fast descent into Manyara basin. Things settled down with a few guys going up the road. Once or twice some real serious attempts from groups but they were always caught and slowed down.

I started to talk with people and relaxed.

Five km out from Mto wa Mbu town is a subvillage with of businesses and some speed bumps. The racers must of known they were bad as they picked up the pace so they had enough speed to jump the rumble strips before and after the bumps. They were really bad. I was lucky not to fall down and felt a bit out of control. There are rumble strips and bumps in Mto wa Mbu town but worn and not horrific so we cruised through town towards the climb.

Kids told me, 'good going grandpa'. they new this would be the last they would see of me.

I went quickly out the back at the climb and then saw Jax and a under 17 years guy drop off 50 m ahead. I was hoping to catch Jax. So, now I was racing, competing. damn.Instead of catching Jax I lost more and more ground on the climb. the masters and under 17's and women turn around was at the top and Jax and 2 under 17 came flying by 100m from the top and 200m from turn around. I turned around and ate some snickers.I didn't push the descent but kind of enjoyed it. curves and baboons.

I saw Thad, Frank, and another mzee from Dodoma were slogging up the hill.I was all alone now. I couldn't see Jax. should i wait for Thad?

I felt okay so pushed on alone without waiting. After Mto wa Mbu I noticed a kid coming up from behind so I slowed and we worked together, then another 3 came up including Mika who was now disqualified as he turned with the young, women, and old. Interesting my first partner did not want to wait for them. Now with five we picked it up a bit and I felt even better during the rest behind. In another 10 km the 3 kids started to tire one by one and not do much work and they kept trying to stay in the back.

After some 15 km of this and 10km to go I told Mika that if they don't help we will drop them the last 2km. With 5km to go there is a long gradual uphill that makes the draft negligible. Mika thought I told him to go in front and pull hard to drop them. I just couldn't hold on, and then Mika was pulling them on a false flat and I fell back 300 meters. Now in the rollers I found the ups difficult and didn't push.

Anyway I got 2nd place for old men.

Now we had to wait for the racers, and then the stragglers, and a lunch and awards and it was 7pm by the time I got home.

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