Formed in June 09, Here Come the Belgians is a non-elite anti-team celebrating all things cross, cobbled and Belgian.
Seeking a different experience to the traditional cycling club, its aim is to harness the energy of a vibrant internet cycling community with grass roots racing and riding based around Cyclocross and Spring Classics. There is no race programme in the style of a racing team, more a collection of individual experiences through rides and racing, in whatever location a member may be, that all can share in and contribute toward.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Central CXL Round 6 - A5 Rangers

I wasn't sure how I'd go this Saturday after last weekends mauling. It had been a poor race and a painful fast club run the day after so the following day I decided.....risked taking a whole week off from any cycling.
Come the day  I certainly felt rested, and a quick practice on the course confirmed that at least I was no worst.
So the course? well we had off camber wet grass, more off camber ups and downs than you could shake a stick at, some mud 'steps', gravel, tarmac and a fine selection of half buried barge board that would have to be taken at a jaunty angle to enter various sections. Our initial thoughts would call this a slow course....errr!
We were called up for gridding, I was called up fourth man, which was good because the course just about took five men shoulder to shoulder. However I'd decided not to bolt for it this week, and I was going to fall back and watch the competition. When the gun went though I didn't have to make that conscious decision, the pack went off like an explosion. Just keep calm, keep an eye on those that matter. Sam, Chris, Tony forget Steve he is way up the league. Chris's Palmer Park yellow kit was the only one I could see, so upon hitting the first straight I floored it to gain my place behind them. Even though we hadn't completed a single lap we soon fell into the weekly race pattern. Sam had gone. Steve looked like he was having issues, but still kept ahead. Chris was just moving away steadily. That left Tony with a Long Eton interloper in front of me.
I should say that because this was a Saturday race we had a lot of class riders from other leagues among us, either training or building points, regardless of that they were lifting the pace. Because of this everyone's game was raised.
This race felt like a race, sounds daft but the course called for your best riding and the open sections  meant that tactics could come into play. At one point the Long Eton rider went down leaving Tony in my sights and in check. sadly I didn't have the strength to open the advantage on the fallen rider, and he went on to pass not only me but several other riders.
As the laps went by the course changed, clever riders  would take new lines to avoid the greasy cambers. And if you could bunny hop or wheelie even better otherwise the barge board marking the exit/entrance to sections must have seemed daunting?
I was having a good ride even if the days stronger riders had now since long passed me. I was upright and quite pleased with my efforts.
Then the bell which seemed to have come very time passes when you're having fun. And with the bell another surprise. I'd been chasing Tony but was now right on his wheel with less that a lap to go. And I mean right on his wheel, all I had to do was draught him and pop out for the points. Proper racing.

However someone else had other plans. A rider from the vets race came through on a bend and tried to get into a gap that wasn't there. I braked hard and the gatecrasher rode straight into Tony's rear wheel. We all kept upright. I wasn't happy, yes it's all racing but I wouldn't deliberately take out other riders, I certainly wouldn't arrive unannounced. Now I had the man in yellow blocking a potential finish line sprint out. Then our man in yellow slowed down too much for the final techy section, and without enough speed he went down taking us with him. Tony escaped the tangle first and what was only a few seconds back a few inches separating us had now become a hundred yards. It was game over Tony was heading for the flag while I was still running with my bike.
Regardless of the last minute debacle this race was the best so far, an opinion universally shared. The course bought out the best riding (in most of us) The Saturday interlopers brought class and pace to the proceedings  and in doing so gave us a race to remember.
I didn't fare well overall compared to my fellow V50 racers, but as far as the central league riders were placed I was where I should be. My overall placing slipped from 3rd to 4th last week, but even that flatters me. 6th would be a fair final standing, unless I can pull something out of the hat on my favourite course when we resume racing in two weeks time.

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