Sadly there were no cameras or journalists to record my latest win. Yes, while everyone else was looking forward to today’s stage at the Eneco Tour, Tour de l’Ain or the Tour of Utah, we were holding our own Domaine Dash. I had gone for a warm up, a quick thrash around Cap d’Antibes, to prepare myself for the latest round in the Clash with the Teenagers. Arriving back at the appointed hour, I discovered the Group of 5 had grown to 7 (a couple of ringers??), all bar one were now riding road bikes, albeit in shorts and trainers. It’s bad enough being beaten by someone wearing all the proper kit, but to be beaten by someone who hasn’t would be way too humiliating. I was taking no prisoners. A few of their parents were on hand to keep an eye on the traffic. A great idea, as I, for one, didn’t want to get stuck behind a slow moving Domaine bus. One of the parents had also suggested that we start the race in the Commercial Centre and then ride up the hill (7% gradient) into the Domaine. He had arranged for the security guards to open the entry barriers.
I put on my race face, got in the big ring and we set off. No neutralised zone, just a quick dash across the Commercial Centre, a steep short descent to the right followed by a sharp 180 degree turn up the Domaine hill. It’s a tricky corner but I tackle it almost every day and wanted to ensure that I was in the lead hitting the hill. I had no intention of tangling with any of the teenage boys. My strategy was simple, I was just going to sprint for the line. I was out of the saddle, sprinting up the hill. It’s about 300m long. I had no idea what was going on behind me. I was wholly concentrating on the task in hand. I shot past the parent guarding the barrier who looked like a fish catching flies with his mouth wide open in amazement.
The road then levels for about 500m. It’s a false flat. I powered across it and attacked the hill, crunching across the dry pine needles littering the road. I could hear muffled shouts behind me, but I never looked back. Fittingly, and aping the Tour, there were a couple of camper vans parked on the side of the hill and someone preparing for a picnic. I took a quick glance at my Garmin, only 156bpm, I could now afford to go flat out and really give it some gas. This was where all that sprint interval training was going to pay dividends. Again, there’s about 500m of false flat before the final little climb to the finish line. In my 50 x 12, I sprinted past a couple of startled dog walking neighbours who cheered me on and crossed the line, hands firmly on the handlebars. I looked back, there was no one to be seen. Luckily they’d had another parent stationed on the finish line to witness my thrashing (again) of a bunch of teenage boys. Finally, the pack hove into view. Red-faced, huffing and puffing, they conceded victory once again to a woman old enough to be their grandmother.
I stopped to have a chat with their parents who had driven back up in the “team” car. I advised that the boys should always wear helmets when riding their bikes and, if they were serious about beating me, should join a local cycle club. I could tell the parents were impressed. After all, they were considerably younger than me and claimed they couldn’t have aped my feat. One of the mothers likened me to Jeannie Longo (if only) but thought I was younger. I didn’t disabuse her.