The Rain, The Pain & The Lame
The Rain! Well, it was wet.
The Pain! It hurt, go figure.
The Lame? Not lame as in gimpy leg lame but more like ‘Geez did you see those lame dudes throwing their empty bottles and actually trying to hit spectators with them?’
That kind of lame. I’m being too kind here aren’t I? They (and all from one team) are being far worse than lame. It’s downright pathetic, not to mention stupid. Were the UCI commissaires sleeping? Funny, they see some guy who’s punctured twice and is way down on GC getting a tow back behind his team car but they miss this. I’ve witnessed it four times now, and the last was when a rider from another team went for a whizz next to a sign and one of these douches flung his bottle above the guy’s head so that it cracked onto the metal above.
Real ha ha.
Now then… what day is it… ah, Tuesday. Here in Race Bubble we don’t do Monday, Tuesday and all that norm stuff, we do Day 1, Day 2 etc. We forget birthdays, anniversaries, Valentines, forget, almost, what planet we are on. If you told me:
‘Next Wednesday the world will end.’ I’d be like: ‘Oh ok.’ Whereas if you say ‘Hey on Day 6, the world will end!’ I’d be like:
‘Oh, ok.’ Not that I don’t care, it’s just that I have a race on. Race Bubble. It’s Bubbalicious.
So, Day 3. 187km, I tried to go again from the off after about maybe 6km – actually I tried a good three or four times, but nothing clicked. Getting in The Break is nowhere as easy as it looks on TV. In fact, I think that most cycling on TV really misses something by not showing the very beginning of races, because there is just so much action going on there. It’s like a raging sea battle with men swinging from the rigging with their cutlass between their teeth, face a-grimace and blood on the boil. The attacks come one after another after another, relentless in their ferocity and violence until KaPow! – The Break is gone.
Usually, actually, it’s less KaPow! and more pffffffffffffft.
No one can say exactly why that quartet or quintet were allowed to go. Often the riders in it don’t look too strong or are way behind on GC, but at other times they might all be strong. Often it’s simply because the others in the peloton are sick of chasing attacks for 20, 40 or 70km – at other times The Break goes after 30 seconds of racing.
Some riders are particularly adept at getting into breaks, like Shinichi Fukushima, the Japanese veteran who is here in Langkawi and trying every day to get free. Others can go seven times in a week and never make it.
That’s one of the great things about this sport — and yes, a cliché but true — anything can happen, and it sometimes does.
Certain teams are particularly funky when it comes to letting stuff go though, they chase down stuff that looks harmless (ie breaks with me in them!) then seem to just decide to let another go. Humbug.
My teammate Alex Coutts got into The Break on Day 3 and made a decent go with three others but they were reeled in with 10 or so to go — Fukushima was there too. I got caught behind one of the numerous crashes with 10 to go (187km in this heat fries the brains and the reaction times) then fought back on and then whoohoo! had yet another puncture with about 8km to go. A stream of dropped riders were behind for my team car to try in vain to weave through, making my tire change was a disaster. Lost 1.22 and slipped back a bit on the GC. Guardini won. Again.
Day 4. Again, tried to get into The Break but no good, and this time they let 4 guys go with just 10km gone. Shinichi was in it again, the trooper! I rode behind El Vino a little. He should have been nicknamed Guinness, because he’s less like a fine wine and more like a half-pint of stout.
He has, in proportion to his height, massive legs and a huge rib-cage. I don’t know though, I don’t get the same sense of quiet respect I had when I was around Gilbert and Hushovd etc in Qatar. Vino is faded, wan, he looks tired, and I wonder just what he’s getting out of it still. I’m not questioning anyone’s right to keep going (I at near 40 have no right to do that) but I just think… well, maybe you know what I mean.
Anyway so, Day 4 and it seems someone screwed up ‘cos up the road are some strong dudes and they have the bit between their teeth, they hit 5 minutes, 5.30, 5.45 by half way and with 40 still to go it’s hovering over 5. Garmin swing off and it’s the Pocket Rocket’s Day-Glo Hand Gesturers who hit the front and tell the Fat Lady to sit back down. We were flying over the last 40 pretty hard but still, The Break couldn’t fail!
Or could it?
Guess what? It could. And it did. They must have cried themselves to sleep….
We round the last corner with just over 1km to go and there they are, messing about all over the road like drunk Japanese salarymen on the pavements of Roppongi at 11pm on a Friday, except they aren’t headed home to a depressed wife, sociopathic kids and a game of golf tomorrow. No sir, they are on their way to Ignominy! (That’s on the Mid-Eastern line between Opprobrium and Infamy).
They were caught with meters to go. So close, in fact, that one guy from the 159km break actually got 8th. Guardini won. Again.
If you can close your eyes and imagine, really, really imagine, what that must have felt like, I would thank you, because it’s late and I’d rather not have to try to describe it. A piñata, 3 minutes after sugar-crazed, baseball bat-wielding children have let it rip — that’s me right now. Time for bed.
17 years after stopping racing as a junior in England and traveling and working around the world, Lee Rodgers started cycling again 4 years ago “to lose a bit of weight” and now rides for UCI Continental team, RTS Racing Team, based in Taiwan. He works full-time as a journalist and part-time as a cyclist. Check out Lee’s previous diary entries