The Italian Job

Posted: April 24, 2016 in Cycling, Time Trial
Tags: , , , , ,
Italian Job 1

The Fixed Wheel Heros and their high speed start

It had taken over a year and last year it had been thwarted by a storm but we had finally made it. Here we where it Italy about to compete in a four up time trial. I use the term compete advisedly. We were riding single speed steel bikes of a certain vintage. They looked almost antique against the carbon and exotic materials of the other competitors. Ours was a glimpse into a different age and there was a question mark over actually getting round the course without one of the bikes failing.

The team had gathered over the last few days and had jump the last official hurdle, registration. There was a lot of paperwork that had to be submitted and some of it was a little suspect. The fact that only one of us had a basic grasp of Italian and the rest just hoped he actually did know Italian didn’t bode well. After a lot of waiting and coffee all that was left was a finial signature and we were in. The relief gained from jumping all the hoops was tempered by all of the very fit looking people swanning about on very expensive machines. I really felt out of place here.

We cycled from the hotel to the start, it was our idea of a warm up. There were all kinds of static trainers at the start that were being used by other teams to warm the muscles but it was doubtful that our machines would even fit on them. The bikes cause a little bit of consternation. People on modern machines were interested in them, photographers wanted photos and others just wanted a chat. At one point John tried to explain that his and Peter’s father would be on the course with us. Some of his ashes have been encased in a marble that was inserted under the saddle. I don’t think the bemused bystanders really understood. I that that was probably a good thing.

It suddenly got serious. We were on the start line, the bikes being held by commissaries. A voice on the PA introduced each of us in turn and then did a little chat which included the word “historic” far too much. Hopefully he was referring to the cycles. Then the countdown.

Peter led us out, this whole adventure was his idea so it seemed fitting that he should be the one to lead us off the line. Somewhere up ahead a motorbike appeared to lead us round the course. We settled into the rhythm each of us taking a turn on the front and then peeling off and drifting to the back, pulling in behind the last rider and then taking a rest in the slipstream.

The road was long and flat with only a few obstacles, first came the bridge, a small hump that was probably the highest point on the course. Things were going well and even next team passing us like a train didn’t put us off our stride.

Next came the tricky turn around point, a bend in the road followed by a roundabout and then another turn. We knew that it would be very easy to drop someone here and that we had to keep together. The line lengthened but by the time we had negotiated the twists and turns we were back together as a line. We started this thing together and barring mechanical failure, pestilence or disease we were going to finish this together.

We had to pass the start, we knew it was coming up and we knew that there would be some spectators there. Even though we had been passed by a few teams and their team cars by now we were still intent on putting on a show for anyone watching. This meant being in a tight line and giving it everything. Paul hit the front and he wasn’t going to relinquish the place until we had sped though the cheering crowd.

Italian Job 2

Round and round the wicked rascal went

As we headed up the coast and into the sun the road surface started to deteriorate. John was on the front and steered us all into the middle of the road. The team behind us weren’t too happy about this as it put them on a collision course with a team coming the other way. We just kept our heads down and kept peddling, we had no choice, we were all riding fixed.

The third “quarter” of the course was hard, the excitement of start had faded, we had settled down into a rhythm, navigated round a few obstacles and put on a show past the start. Now it was just hard work and grinding out the kilometers. It was obvious that the pace had dropped slightly too. All of a sudden the turn around point loomed complete with a series of people waving red flags. We whipped round the turn and the change of direction injected some enthusiasm and pace back into the line. We were on the way home, barring flood and famine we were going to do this thing. The pace picked up as we counted off the distance.

The 2 km to go sign acted like a boost of power into the team. Suddenly the end was in sight and our tails were up, at one kilometer to go we were motoring at 500 meters the line broke and it was every one for themselves as we sprinted for the line.

Just beyond the line we collapsed into a heap of deep breathing, gasping, coughing and giggles. We’d done it. Later, looking at the results we found we had come “not last” the position that we had geared all our training to, we had only ever aimed to “blow the bloody doors off”

Italian Job 3

The exhausted feeling of a team time trial done

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