first race of 2013, done & dusted

after several months of LanceGate and its ensuing release of kittens, baby ducklings and unicorns and hugs and jolliness and the rainbows of love and the general faith in humanity that it renewed with invigorating splendidness, it was with a bounce in our cleated steps that me and my CCN Cycling teammate Rob Gitelis rolled down for the start of our first race of the season in the balmy climes of slightly southern Taiwan, just outside the city if Tainan.

l-r: Hein Verbruggen, Pat McQuaid and Lance Armstrong

l-r: Hein Verbruggen, Pat McQuaid and Lance Armstrong

the weather this ‘winter’ here has been decidedly toasty, hovering around 20 degrees average and often much higher in the day. it’s barely rained either so no excuses for not training, which serves to make us all feel even guiltier than usual. funny sport this, one that no matter how hard you train nor how diligent you are with diet and rest (of which i never am anyway), you still feel like you’re going to be cast into the fiery inferno by Saint Eddy for Not Doing Enough.

anyway, the race was a short one at 35km, just about long enough to get me out of bed, with a 12km hilly out, a 5km climb of about 8.5% average in the middle, then a rollicking, white knuckle descent through throngs of Chinese tourists with mad perms and raised heels (the men) and oral mucus-ejection problems and have-to-shout-all-the-time syndrome (the women), not to mention the red-arsed macaque monkeys that looked like they would mug the crap out of you if you slowed down below 40km/hr (not joking, monkeys sat all over the road at one point, though i am joking and very unfairly stereotyping the entire chinese nation for comic effect, but what can you do?), then back onto the same route back to the finish.

'does my bum look big in this?'

‘does my bum look big in this?’

we signed in and did the meets and greets with many folks, all of whom were very welcoming and just plain nice, and then we were off, thos elittle butterflies in the stomach going off as they should, for here we were, back in the fray. man, i love the fray.

Rob put in some good work on the way to the hill, stretching out the pack and forcing a dwindling from a good 100 riders to about 10 at the base of the climb, then my friend Inigo took a turn, then i got a little frisky and put in an acceleration and that was that, i got a gap and just kept going. there’s something oddly exhilarating about banging it out on a hill you’ve never ridden before. you feel like an explorer going into the unknown, no reserves, no caution, it’s just you-break-me-or-i-break-you really.

pretty steep here

pretty steep here

on this occasion the last km did kind of break me! but fortunately the others were toiling in their own little pain caves so i didn’t get pulled back. the descent was fun in an ‘i might die here’ kind of way, then it was back onto the rollers and a time trial home. the last marshal obviously didn’t expect me as he was sat on an upturned milk crate examining the end of his finger, which i presumed had just been up his nose, as i whizzed by and missed the corner.

then a workman’s truck got in the way as i neared the finish line, dawdling at about 10km per hour just ahead of me which meant i did the slowest ever victory celebration and almost fell off. stylish.

then it was back to the hall for the ceremony and some dried shaved pig meat in a sweet bun (yes, the ‘Taiwanese Donut’ still hasn’t quite stolen my heart) that tricked me into thinking it was something edible, so i took one big old bite and almost had a seizure, and more handshakes and lots of smiles and then back on the road home.

tastes as good as it looks!

tastes as good as it looks!

so, first race of 2013 done, first race of 2013 won! long may it continue…

many thanks to the Tainan guys, the Rosso club and to Steven Wu for sorting us out, great little race!

yes, not looking at all like a doofus...

yes, not looking at all like a doofus… though i NAILED the karaoke competition!

smiles all round…

Rob on left, me, and happy folks

Rob on left, me, and happy folks

 

 

 

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