As the end of 2022 approaches, it is time to look back on the past season and make plans for 2023 concrete. My ultimate goal for 2023 is the UCI Gran Fondo World Championship in Glasgow. However, I don't want to make the same mistakes as last season, I want to learn from them and improve. And why not share? Hopefully it will also help you avoid these mistakes.
I like to win, even if it is often unrealistic. During Chasing Cancellara Flanders, I was third in the 40+ category after five of the six hills. In this semi-gran fondo we rode most of the sections as sportives, but there was a time classification on six famous Flemish beasts. I was a few seconds ahead of the number four so I really wanted to go up the Paterberg as hard as possible to maintain that lead. Halfway up I saw that the gutter next to the cobblestones was clear, that would be faster! However, I steered into the gutter a little too fanatically, swung right out again, fell halfway, stood still and had to get going again on the steepest part. Gone third place, fourth. Unfortunately a mistake I cannot learn from, because Chasing Cancellara Flanders will not be organized this year.
My wife and I had traveled to Heerlen the weekend of Ascension. She was going to ride in South Limburg and I was going to do the three stages of the LCMT (a cycling event starting in Spa). Arriving in Stavelot, I noticed that I couldn't get the wheel into my bike properly. Fortunately it finally worked and the only problem was that shifting was a bit awkward because my wife has 10-speed on her bike and I have 11-speed. But it was doable. The lesson: always double check your equipment before you leave!
It's a good thing that the CylcoWorld crew pops up almost everywhere. Well before the start of the Schleck Gran fondo I greeted Rick Groeneweg and Frank Jansen in front of the starting pen for our age group. And pretty soon Frank asked the question where I hid my helmet.... I went back to the car like a hare, where fortunately I found the helmet neatly on top of the roof. So check your equipment not only before you leave home, but also before you ride your bike to the start!
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I have done two time trials this season: once I came in first, once just short of last. However, in both cases I made the same mistake: starting way too fast. During the climb time trial in Perpignan I was able to recover sufficiently in some small descents, but during the World Championships that was impossible. Even though it's actually very simple, don't start too hard. I ride with a power meter, so I know exactly what speed to maintain. The lesson? Stick to your plan!
...then that's a hint. I should have picked up this hint during Le Raid du Bugey. Which gran fondo do I hear you think: Le Raid du Bugey? Right, a very fun, smaller and locally organized gran fondo with start and finish in Lagnieu. I came here on my dead ride to the start, feeling it would be more like a sportive than a fanatical race. After drinking my coffee, I took a good look around. The vast majority of participants were seriously warming up. A few on the rollers, but most were riding briskly up and down the first few miles of the climb. If only I had done the same! The lesson? Never underestimate a gran fondo!