Cause for concern

This week is one of my “rest weeks”. Which means, of course, because the weather’s been so great all week, I’m longing to get out on the bike. I’m allowed a couple of recovery rides, a run or two and some gym sessions but nothing quite cuts it like the wind whistling through your helmet as you barrel down a hill or along the sea-front.

My first target of the season, after last week end’s sportif was cancelled, is an event run by my own cycling coach. It used to be held at the end of January but he’s moved it a couple of months, and added a timed portion. His events generally attract a fairly serious crowd so I could well be playing my usual role of lanterne rouge. I won’t be the oldest rider although it’s likely I’ll be the oldest female rider.  I might be last in the scratch but, unless Jeannie Longo puts in an appearance, I should be fastest in my age group. I may even collect a trophy for my ever expanding collection.

After the WTS Classic there’s the usual run of events in April, May and June;  weather and the authorities permitting. We’ve just had a knock back from those self-same authorities for our Gentleman on Sunday 18 March, an event that’s been happily run, incident-free, for many years. I’m holding back on the cake production until we get a positive response. It’ll be a great shame if it’s cancelled, as once events disappear from the calendar, they rarely reappear. Unlike some of the World Tour events in Spain our problem is not lack of funds, it’s an excess of traffic.

The event is held on a Sunday around an industrial estate. So where’s the traffic? The same town hosts a truly gi-normous market every Sunday. But it’s not one of those idyllic, traditional Provencal markets with stands bursting with colourful fruit and vegetables and lots of local produce. No, it’s full of stuff that no one else wants, largely clothing, toiletries, any old thing in fact. It attracts huge crowds of people from outside the region, all of whom drive through the industrial estate to reach the market. We may have to find another place for the event, maybe, the neighbouring industrial estate.

At least as far as the Kivilev is concerned, we’re getting positive feedback from the communes, although worryingly the final authorisation generally doesn’t turn up until the Friday before the event takes place. We’ve already submitted the application so we’ll just have to wait and see. A couple of unfortunate events have also occurred. A popular three-day Tour is taking place the same week-end as the Kivilev. It’s been moved from its regular slot in the calendar on account of the elections. This will severely restrict the number of local racers competing in our sportif.

The last couple of years, either the Conseil regional or the Olympic Committee have lent us their car podiums. This gives a certain gravity to the event and enables us to more easily make announcements and, of course, make the all important presentations. In addition, Alexandre Vinokourov will be riding in the Giro, so he won’t be able to attend. If available, the other Kazakhs will participate, but he’s our headline act.

On a good note, we paid a quick visit this week to the company which kindly lend us one of  their refrigerated vans. This made a huge difference to the storage, preparation and presentation of the all important food during and at the end of the event. The van is ours again for the duration. M Le President is now out hunting for sponsors. He’s been doing well but, as I always say, you would want to keep on the good side of the head honcho down at the fire station, wouldn’t you?

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