Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Para Cycling Nationals

Zulu war stories from the Para cycling Nationals held on the Sunshine Coast, April 9 & 10. Saturday's time trial was run in the rain and on a 4klm out and back course. The 7 hairpin U turns dragged down the averages over the 32 k ride. Only having calliper brakes on wet rims to pull up 170kg doing over 40...well my turns were safe & conservative or just plain slow depending on your point of view. John and I missed the podium to post a 41.69 kph average for 4th place out of 6 tandems.. National champions rode 45.3 kph. The time trial gave me a false hope that we might be able to get a bronze if we rode well in the Road Race on Sunday. Dream on Zulu. The Road Race in the Glasshouse Mountains was 8 laps of a 10k moderately hilly circuit. 1 hour into the ride I was puffing and the younger fellas on the other tandems were still making small talk & having a chat amongst themselves. 6 had already become 5. I checked the Speedo to see our average was 41kph. Slowly the small talk turned into hushed whispers as plans were laid. The moves were made and we were dropped. I yelled to John that THIS IS IT ! We rode flat out dropping the other tandem, only to stay about 50 meters off the back for a few k while the 3 tandems in front regrouped and started swapping turns. Just when I was accepting we would never get back on, one of the 3 attacking tandems punctured. We rode up to the remaining 2 easily and they jumped on as we went past. I asked if they were waiting and they nodded. I told them that we couldn't afford to. So we kept pushing and they kept sitting. After 10k they jumped us again and went down the road and out of sight. About 15klm from the finish we were caught by the chasing crew that had got a wheel off the spares wagon. We were cooked and our potential 3rd became a 4th. We rolled in on our own to finish the 82k in 2hr 6min. The athletes John and I met there have the distinction of being the best sportsmen I have raced against. Despite ungainly contraptions and their many disabilities, the riders were also the safest I have seen. The lesson learned is - communication and courtesy go a long way.