it was 5 laps of a 12.5km course, nothing but hills, not a whiff of a flat section.
started off ridiculously fast and never let up. the first big hill saw 55 of the 73 riders go off the back, never to be seen again. second time round 5 guys got away and soon got a minute on us chasers.
i clung on for dear life, wanting nothing more than to get a puncture! you know that feeling? when you know you have no chance of winning, and the best you can hope for is a limitation in the humiliation stakes. it sucks. absolutely.
but hang on you do, because the more you hurt the fitter you get. at least you hope that`s true. third time up the hill i got dropped and had no choice but to chase, and into a headwind. so chase i did, harder than those wimps up ahead of me all tucked up snug in the group, and after a 4km suffer-fest i grabbed that last wheel like a non-swimmer clutching at a dinghy in an antartic shipping disaster.
looked at the computer - 36km up a 5 degree climb. pain. nothing else.
fourth lap, same hill, same gap opened up. lungs felt like hot water bottles being blown up by steroid-addled bodybuilders. why didn`t i become a surfer? chased like a deranged stalker once again, just got back on, then got harangued for hanging on and not pulling through. wished the tortures of torquemada on the chastiser. silently, of course, for nothing but frothed saliva was emerging from my being by that time.
finally last lap, not an ounce of power left, nothing left for the sprint but pulled in for a half decent 13th place in the end. the guy who came 2nd won the japan challenge series last year, and the winner - shinegawa, he rode for 3 years with the european skil shimano team, and rode paris-roubaix twice. wow, that`s some company!
still, early season yet - the top boys were all fresh from the tour of taipei and the singapore crits, so have some form over the rest of us. it`ll be an interesting season...
post race, with giant pro and daigo san...
cheesy grins from the shimano lads... free massage too! ... and race radios, give me a break...
first prize was a large toilet seat cover... and 2nd got a liquigas jersey, great prize for a shimano pro!