Its back to Galena for the 2013 edition of the Tour of Galena.
First off its impressive that once again xXx has managed to set up such a huge well organized event so far out of town. It’s a beautiful part of the country too, with lots for your adoring/long suffering family to do while you are out there getting killed.
Did I mention getting killed, yes. Because this year I’m up in the 3s and it’s a whole new level of challenge.
First up it’s the time trial, and a taste of the pain to come with an appetizer known as the long course. I’m lining up with people on TT bikes with disc wheels, yikes. I’m off and have a 30 second man to chase this year, so I bury myself early and make some inroads to him. I reach the short course turn point and continue into the unknown, an evil downhill hairpin where you scrub off precious watts or hit the bales then a brutal climb up to the turnaround. On the way back you must climb the hairpin hill and its pure agony through lack of gears, and the taunting sight of the guy ahead, almost within touching distance. But he’s 100 yards ahead UP the hill, crest the top and he has of course pulled back some distance, so you chase the undulating hills to reach the finish, legs already liquefied, and its only Saturday morning.
15/29 – I did put 15 seconds into my lead man, but here’s the (race of) truth, I’m 1.5 minutes down on the winner.
Next it’s the epic 67 mile road race. 3 laps of a course that near killed me doing 2 last year. But this year I’m packing extra food and my lightest wheels with much better gearing. Helps it's not hotter than the devils arse crack this time too. Out of town through the busy main street with the police escort is always a special touch, then onto the road course that’s tattooed into my memory (with pain ink).
Here’s a surprise - I’m climbing well. I can sit in the saddle and spin my way up the short climbs making places up. Down the descents that follow I simply don’t have to pedal at all, while the sleek young thin guys around me spin furiously. We are flying through the beautiful countryside and quickly reach the scene of last year’s carnage, ford road hill. But what’s this?, in 75degree heat with good gears and new pavement this is totally doable, just a grind up. A guy just ahead misses a downshift, freezes up and slams to the ground. I dodge round him – fuck the centerline – and carry on. Its similar on the Guilford road climb, just a long long long grind up.
Second lap pace has dropped noticeably, but there’s not been much attrition after the fast first. Everyone here is good. It hot's way up over Guilford second time around, a big attack fragments us, I’m off the back but join forces with Tracy and 10 speed Todd and burn some matches to chase back on.
Last lap and all attacks have been reeled in, we are all together. It’s hard to explain how fatigued I feel - racing along the flats is fine, but there’s big twinges of cramp in my legs every time we go upward. I have to pace myself up each one using my lowest gear or risk seizing up. Still all together at the foot of the final climb. I again pace myself as hard as I dare with legs cramping. It’s all quite calculating and calm this year – the pints and chocolate and being 6’4” of entirely the wrong shape for hills are all still a problem but its cramp killing me this time. I just have to summit and limit the losses. Riders ahead are blowing up in pain and I toil back past them. I reach the top and the main field has GONE. I catch up with Todd and we catch a breath and work together at a good pace flying through junctions and down steep grades but it’s impossible to get back. Coming into town we make a sprint of it, my legs are screaming as I dig for the line and just edge him.
Finally. The crit.
I haven’t recovered well, my legs are still leaden and lower back painful. Arriving at the line it’s drying from rain but still a slippery course. I HATE racing in the rain.
The race takes off and settles into a rhythm of slow cornering, furious acceleration (to 30+ every lap per the radar speedtrap) bunching up and braking. The bike handling of the 3s is impressive, only one crash so far. I can handle the speed but my legs have no acceleration snap off the tight corners so I’m quickly at the back. A dry line is appearing and my spirits rising. I can do this, move up. Then the rain just dumps hard. I’m soaked and have my glasses off to see anything. The road is flooding. A sketchy moment in the corner at the post office sees me all out of shape and braking to save it. I’m gapped. At this moment of real truth I try to raise something in myself and chase back. It’s not there. It’s over.
Again kudos to xXx for running the races here. We know the logistics of running our events, but this one is massive. Kudos to the team also, we got some great results here, including Andrea and Erica G. both on the omnium podium.
As for my results, well, clearly I still have a mountain to climb in the 3s.
- Bevan Brookfield