well, the Giro de Kunisaki, in Oita, Japan...
160kms, total time 4 hours 31 minutes 13 seconds. (avg 21.99 miles per hour)
they were three courses, A, B, C, with A being the 160. and there were 1,008 people entered!!! (as well as two buddies, hey guys)... you can imagine the start, it was mayhem. we had police outriders ahead of us for 10kms, and as we started i was about 300 people back down the line, so had some furious pedalling to do to get up to the front. by the time we hit the first hills there were about 35 guys together, all looking quite strong, though no one was really working together too much. still a long way to go.
up until 50k the road was relatively rolling, nothing too major, then we hit the first real climb, the pack of 35 thinned to 20, me and another guy broke away a little but i wasn`t pushing it as i wanted to conserve my energy. i felt good though, i was climbing really well and was pleasantly suprised to see the japanese skinny guys suffering.
for the next 30k we all stuck together, had quite a good paceling going, all 20 working pretty well, there`s just so few races here though that these guys don`t get much experience of racing in a group, so some guys would just pull for 10 metres, others actually slowed down when they got up front, others blasted too hard, and of course everyone`s too polite to say anything! there was lots of braking on corners too, and the front guys sometimes stopped pedalling, a real hassle.
anyway, at the 80k point this older guy blasts ahead just as we hit some hills - beautiful scenery btw, through these gorges and valleys, rice paddies - blue skies too - so i decide to bridge the gap, just gradually - he was about 20metres ahead. after 20 seconds i looked behind and there`s a gap to the group, my legs felt great, so i pushed on. i caught the guy and asked him how he felt, he said `good!` (he was about 45, on a beaten up old look, and flying!), so i said `ok, then let`s go`, and got to the front and worked it. another guy came up too, mid-twenties, compact, he looked strong. the climb was about 6kms long, i stayed on the front all the way up, when we hit the crest the older guy came round and we started working together really well. the road then flattened out as it headed to the coast for a right turn and then the long road home, about 70k of seriously undulating hills and a pretty strong headwind. i looked back along the stretch we`d come down, there was about 2k of road and no chasers to be seen... (so the game plan went to pot - i`d intended just to keep in the pack and then attack with 30k to go, but as usual the old adrenalin got to me!)
me and the young guy started doing all the work and soon dropped the older guy with 50k to go. the rolling hills were starting to get to my legs, you know those ones that you see straight ahead, they`re just there? man i hate those! but i was still feling good, turning a good gear but still spinning up them. on the way through one tunnel (completely pitch black, pretty hairy when you can`t see the guy 4 inches in front of you) with a slight incline a 10 metre gap developed between me and the other guy, but i decided not to press it home - still 45k to go and a headwind - but i figured i`d keep the same steady pace and make him work to get on my wheel - softening him up for the kill! eventually he caught back on and we started working together, but by now (from 60k to go really) i was doing most of the work, doing pulls about 2ce as long as him. i was getting worried that we might get caught if we went slower.
at 40 to go i was getting really dry, my drinks were done, and the gels were getting to me, i start feeling sick if i can`t get water down with them - and then at that very moment, lo and behold, this kind samaritan pulled up alongside in a car and handed us cold bottles of water! brilliant timing. half went over my head, really sorted me out - the guy sped off and then i saw him parked up just ahead, he was buying us more water from a vending machine, cheering us on too - what a dude! i think he gave me about 4 bottles in total, and he kept cheering me on all the way to the end - unfortunately i couldn`t find him after, really wanted to say thanks...
anyway - with 30 to go the road flattened out a bit, still windy, and i was thinking of attacking him, but held on until 20 to go - and am i glad i did. as we hit a long straight i went to the front and just started gradually to increase the speed until i was hitting about 42km/h. after a minute of this i finally looked back, and the guy was 30 metres behind me. from there on in i kept working pretty hard, but the headwind was a bugger - and man 20kms can seem like a lifetime when you`re on your own and willing that finish line to come!
but, i hung on, came in first, 1 minute 30 ahead of second, i think 4 minutes ahead of the crowd, and was completely chuffed as i`d been preparing for this ride for some time, and had sacrificed a decent placing in a 120k race earlier in the week by using it as training for this one (basically attacked over and over and chased everything, good workout!).
of course, this being japan, there was no trophy, no awards ceremony, not even a mention - i did get a box of seaweed though! mmm.
there were about 6 trophies on the table though - believe it or not, these were for people who got closest to the `central` time - the pre-decideed `ideal` time to do the race in... i think the 160 was something like 7 hours! if you get closest to that, you get the trophy. ah, a celebration of mediocrity! still, happy with the win!
thanks for reading - and apologies for blowing my own trumpet, but hey, i worked my arse off for this one!
coure link (not my time tho) http://www.magnalox.net/log/no.php?lid=12136