I’m actually way too tired for an update, but I’m so worries I forget details. Besides, I HAVE to eat before I go to sleep, and I think I can manage both at the same time. I’ll try to keep it coherent.
The start day was actually a lot fun, getting to know some of the people you’ve been interacting with on Facebook. I could mention all the riders, but my special shout out goes to Marion, she is basically the uber dotwatcher and she always has a kind word for every single person on the TCR Facebook she moderates (I accidentally called her the mother of all racers, but I meant that in the caring way, not in terms of age 😉 ).
Once we made our way to the market square, I was amazed about the turn up of fans. I’d expected supporters from racers and the odd one from down the street, but there were a lot of Belgians from the area that were genuinely interested. And even a Dutch family who happened to be on the Mont Ventoux (last year’s CP1) when racers started coming through, and they wanted to come to the start this year. So when the town crier started counting down, the sides of the road were properly filled with fans.
Anyway, we’re nearly 24 hours later now, and I’m too tired to give you a full run down. I was hoping to get 400km done today, but with all those rookie mistakes I made, I’m pleasantly surprised I made it as far as 350km!
- It took me all of 30 minutes after the start to get off track. (But on the bright side, it took me 10 minutes to get unlost, and the Garmin and I are still going strong. Despite the uncoventional and probable impractical way I’m using it)
- It wasn’t until my lights went low, that I realized my lights can’t shine while they’re being charged. Unbelievable I never came up with the idea to check that… This happened at 2am on a particularly poorly lit road. And it’s one of those lights that takes hours to fully recharge. I took 15 minutes to hang the light on my battery pack, have a sit down and eat something while overthinking the situation. I was in the middle of nowhere and staying there for a couple of hours was not an option. So the plan was to put the light in it’s lowest setting, which would hold for a while thanks to those 15 minutes. This would mean I was somewhat visible for a car heading in my direction, and I could just barely see where the edge of the road was. Impossible to see the state of the road though. I was hoping the light would hold long enough until I caught up with other riders (which it did), so that I could safely ride to the next little village following their tail lights. This is not really allowed I think, but I wasn’t drafting and in my opinion this was the only safe option, so I found it justified. By the time we reached a town, it was 4am and I parked the bike and myself next to the canal on the completely silent (across from us racers) town square to sleep for an hour to wait for dawn. This strategy worked flawless, but also resulted in me not seeing another racers for hours afterwards, because everyone close to me had now passed.
- I failed to stock up and thus eat properly. Obviously this happened right when my route planning turned out to be faulty, meaning I was bound to follow a bush/river path for kilometers on end. Not a town or civilization in sight. I still had some croissants and granola bar back up, but I still had 45km to go and due to way too low energy I was struggling to even ride 20km/h on a flat surface. So I had to try and spread the emergency. The last kilometers were not exactly fun.
And in other news:
- My right knee started acting up during the night. This is a new injury and I have no idea what causes it. It forced me to take those gazillions of hills today as if they were the Ventoux, meaning slow, steady and sustainable. This worries me a bit for CP1 and especially Switzerland, but we’ll see how it’s doing tomorrow.
- The media car caught up with me a couple of times. The first time when the cool blue Volvo with Anna’s friendly face rolled up next to me, it gave quite a mental boost. The team was taking pictures, and it reminded me again I was in a race, so I immediately knocked it up a gear. Of course, 5 minutes later they were out of sight and I was out of breath, so I soon went to my touring speed, taking the hill easy. But alas, as I rounded the corner to the top of the hill, there they were again, waiting for me. No less than three cameras were pointed at me. So I got up out of the saddle and tried (and probably failed) to pretend it was all super easy. And a few hours later they busted me while I was chilling on the terrace with a coke. I think they have some compelling footage of me…
- While on the terrace, Anna filled us in that last year’s winner Josh Ibbett scratched, due to a back injury. A shame to lose a Titan like that, I know everyone was looking forward to the show down between him and Kristoff Allegaert. I hope he heals soon and can come back with a vengeance next year.
- Troyes seems to be a really nice city!