My first World Cup was in Perth, on Australia's west coast. Today it's Perth, Scotland. 145 participants have signed up for the medio fondo in the 60-64 category. Qualifying for the World Cup is hard enough, being at the start means you can at least do a little cycling.
Photo: right in picture, wearing light blue shirt.
The course is constantly up and down over the just over 87 kilometers. Admittedly, there are no climbs of any significance: just under 800 meters of elevation are planned. A few days before D-day, I had done the full ride and found it fairly selective. The wind could also play a big role.
Our category gets to start first at 10 am. On my seven-year-old spare bike with rim brakes and a faltering gear, I hope to secure a place among the first 70. A few days before leaving for Scotland, there appeared to be a crack in the frame of my two-year-old more modern bike (disc brakes, choice of 24 gears...). Add to that my 64 springs and a somewhat uncertain feeling about fitness, you know it's not going to be an easy task.
The weather was on our side in the sense that no rain was predicted (and we were spared from it). Nor did the wind play a leading role, and the fairly large peloton kept the group fairly closed. 'Poke your way and you can ride top 20,' a friend had advised me. That played in my head throughout the race. The two races prior to the World Championships in Belgium had taught me that going on the attack cost me dearly. The faltering gears already caused enough unnecessary effort.
Sometimes there was an attack and an acceleration in the peloton, but nobody could really get away. Staying focused was the message. Not everyone appeared to be used to riding in a big group and even among this old guard there are misfits who like to dive under in a corner or come to wriggle on the side of the road. Suddenly a rider two places ahead of me loses balance. Thanks to my track experience, I am able to avoid him. He smashes hard against the rough asphalt. Apparently at 20 km from the end, there is another bigger crash, which I didn't notice. For some favorites, the race is over there.
Photo: Suffering at the finish.
At 10 kilometers from the finish, the first signs of possible cramps came. However, I kept strictly to my drinking schedule. The closer we get to the finish line, the more hectic the racing gets. Everyone wants to be at the front at that somewhat awkward turn 700 meters from the end towards Scone Palace. I manage to place myself among the first 20, until three riders in front of me end up on the side of the road and I have to take the corner rather uncomfortably. But I know the finish; I've scouted those last 700 meters about five times. Sprint in and go! So no ... the cramps immediately shoot into the left rear leg. I can spin around some more until I have to hold the legs completely still. The last 200 meters I can ride carefully again.
I finish 15 seconds after the Norwegian winner in 40th place. In advance, I had signed for this. Now it tastes a little sour. That top 20 was suddenly very close!
Photo: Scone Palace.
We are another experience richer. It was a beautiful day. My old cart held up, and unlike some others, I crossed the finish line in one piece. On a not so selective course, it is nice to have the impression that you can compete for the marbles. And at the end of a race like this, you see a lot of happy old men with low fat levels!