Tonight we raced a sort of crit in a team relay on the cobblestones of Trento. I’d tentatively ridden around the streets last night, testing them out. Hmm, didn’t feel great. 11 teams, 5 of them Aussies.
I sought advice on riding cobblestones from that reputable source of truth – facebook friends – and discovered I should variously use double the amount of Savlon, stay up the front of the race to avoid crashes (similar to advice from Phil Liggett as it happens!) or ride like I’m riding an Aussie dirt road.
Actually, that last one would mean “have a tantrum” from past experience and as some friends can attest. And let the tyres down to 80psi – which I considered and decided that they had probably lost a bit of pressure since I last pumped them up.
Met my team - Michael, John and Kevin at 12:30 for a pre-race meeting. All good. I borrowed one of their jerseys and adjusted it to fit with safety pins.
They decided I was the boss and adopted my strategy of putting slowest person (me) first and fastest person last.
4:00pm and they let us on the course to warm up. This really only served to make me more nervous especially as although the course was officially closed, pedestrians were wont to pop out at inopportune cornering moments and we all nearly took a few out. It was hard to get the sense of the corners in race conditions.
Then eventually the race started and by the 2nd corner … I was in last place. All the blokes in the first leg, took off like startled rabbits. Just me and another, younger, Aussie woman.
She was unbelievably nervous, turned out to be her first ever crit! That’s worse than a newbie racing Heffron. Anyway, couldn’t corner so I sat on her wheel for 2 laps and then passed her and took off.
By my 5th and last lap I was well ahead of her and pretty stuffed. I think I rode quite well considering the corners and cobblestones and was getting braver and faster on the corners on the last lap. I couldn’t get out of the saddle on the drops without the back end feeling like it was going to bounce – but then didn’t really need to sprint much except out of the corners. Glad to give it away on that lap before I got too confident.
I hadn’t given my team the greatest of starts, but at least we weren’t last. But the blokes gradually reeled them in, especially as many other teams had put their woman in second place.
Some dubious lap counting by the race officials confused us all. In the end, we finished in second place with first and third being taken by Italians.
Followed, eventually, by a proper flag ceremony with flowers and everything! The boys took the wine, I took the flowers and then rode the 2.5km to my hotel with them balanced on the handlebars and a backpack on my bag.
Tick that one off!