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Being in the middle of the peloton surrounded by Pro-Tour riders was a great place to start off watching the race. Where’s my helmet camera when I need it?! Every time I’d ride beside someone from Garmin/Chipotle, Rabobank, Quick Step, Columbia, Silence-Lotto, etc I’d resist the urge to ask for their autograph and instead ride along side them getting a chat in. I put the offer out there to fetch watterbottles, bring back breaks and other odd domestique duties, but no one took me up on it.
Where else in the world can a guy like me go and play the sport I love with the top pros in the world? You can’t do that with football, hockey, basketball, etc. Mind you, on the 10th lap when the big guns went to the front and decided to pull back the 5 min gap that the break had on us, I was wishing I was one of the 20,000 fans having a good time watching the race. Soon after, I was one of them!
I kept my eyes open for TIPs during the race and came up with a few goodies:
Attach Your Gels To Your Watter Bottles
While I was getting my feedbag ready the night before I remembered this old trick that I hadn’t used in a while. Secure the lid of your water bottle over the top of the gel pack so you don’t need to carry all of your gels with you. When you want to eat one of them, just tear off and take it all in. The lid of the water bottle won’t come off and it’s easy to tear. I saw other people using elastic bands to attach gels to their water bottles.
How To Put Your Race Number On Like A PRO
I saw a couple of good ways to attach number plates onto frames. The best way and also one I hadn’t seen before is shown below:
You know those rear tail lights that clamp around your seat post? In the picture above, the number plate is attached to the clamp that the rear tail lights come with (minus the tail light obviously). Just thread the screw that comes with the clamp through the number plate and voila! No cable ties to cut, no getting in the way, no flapping in the wind. Perfect!
Another good alternative is to use cable ties as shown below . Many cyclists attach their number plates with cable ties, but this way is by far the cleanest and simplest method. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures that show the many disastrous methods some people use.
SPIN SPIN SPIN!
I keep preaching it, and every time I ride with PROs my belief is confirmed. You’ve simply got to spin in the highest gear possible up the hills while maintaining the same speed as everyone else (I’m talking 100-120rpm). I was watching Matt Lloyd and he was in his 21T or 23T the whole time ticking away, not tapping into those fast twitch muscle fibers until later when he absolutely needed it. All the guys who lasted were doing it. I made a decision to put on my 11T-26T before the race and it turned out to be the thing that kept me in the race for as long as I was.
The Good Ol’ One-Two
Adam Hansen and Michael Rogers (both on Team Columbia) should be going back to the basics and perhaps read some of this blog. I can’t believe they stuffed up the race like they did (I can say that because they are professionals and should know better). For those of you who missed it, Michael Rogers and Peter MacDonald (Drapac) were away in the winning move. Hansen attacked from the chase group and made it across because Rogers slowed the pace to wait for him. Columbia had a textbook One-Two opportunity on MacDonald coming into the finishing straight. I would have expected Hansen to attack about 1km from the finish leaving MacDonald to decide either to follow or not, ultimately meaning he could chase or lose the race. Of course Rogers wouldn’t chase down Hansen – they’re teammates. If MacDonald did decide to chase Hansen, Rogers would have sat on, and by the time MacDonald blew himself up catching Hansen, Rogers would have counter attacked and MacDonald wouldn’t be able to respond. I don’t believe for a second that MacDonald was stronger than the both of them put together. Good grief guys! …And good on ya MacDonald! Congratulations.
Can you imagine being Peter MacDonald rocking up back to his day job as a bike mechanic on Monday morning? And by Wednesday he’s got customers barking at him to fix their flat tires! Welcome back to the real world!
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson/WomensCycling.net