When does a race start? Only after the bikes are lined up on the start line and the starter sounds the bell? Or even earlier, yet perhaps the hour we were born? Well in case of the Tour of Japan Tokyo stage my definition of a the race start would be: When I started to drank glass after glass of good red wine and smoked some cigars at a friend home the evening before. A good start indeed, for a nice evening that ended at half past one in the morning. Yet the next morning I was supposed to attend this race at the Tokyo Oifuto harbor.
When I opened my eyes (please note that I did not write: „when I woke up“) and looked out of the window it was raining. I was tired, not completely sober and there were many reasons popping up to stay in bed; but I decided to dress up in my white NFCC racing gear, pack my things, jump into the car and head for the Tokyo Oifuto. I made a stop to buy something for breakfast and then I was lucky that I could still find a parking place at the race. I don’t know about you guys, but drinking a lot of alcohol definitely influences my bowels and the next morning I am usually glued to the toilet seat. Insofar the choice of the pure white NFCC bib shorts proved to be a source of constant potential embarrassment.
I had the chance to do two training rounds on the track and already I was almost soaked (I thought).
The race is on a public road, one lap 7 km long, 3 laps. There is one U-turn immediately after the start and about three more sharp turns, otherwise it is pretty flat and easy to maneuver.
I noticed further that a city of Tokyo standard issue 45 liter transparent garbage bag can we tailored into a very effective rain protection gear for the average 55 kg / 45 liter upper body Japanese amateur rider. I would be probably be in need of a 90 liter bag, not yet available here.
Last year there had been many crashes and I was even more afraid of crashes under these conditions. Then it was time to line up at the start – some other NFCC riders were also there: Alain, Eric, David and Dean. We looked great in our white team jerseys and bib shorts (I found also a toilet just before the race). Some of the NFCC riders have not come to the race, Stephane was there but choose not to race.
Start. The race was very fast as usual, despite the rain we reached an average speed of 42 km/hr. Within seconds I was more than wet from the rain and the water coming from the wheels in front of me.
I was double careful in the corners and try to maneuver them as careful as possible, definitely slower than the rest of the riders. So I was in the rear of the peloton and then I had to speed up not to loose contact, but this harmonica principle worked very well. I was in good shape and I had enough power to overtake some riders on the straights.
With about 3 km to go I tried to get into position in front for the last series of three turns. I managed to come to the front and on the outside of the curve I started to corner. Suddenly the guy riding parallel to me on the inside said something to the effect of „Ups“; when I looked he was already on the ground and his bike came sliding in my direction, I damn near shit a brick. I managed to avoid to crash in the first instance but instead of taking the corner I had to go straight and I was heading for the guiderails. Deja vu; Just like the crash on the Chichibu trip. I managed to get my feet out from the cleat and somehow to get the bike more or less parallel to the guiderails without crashing into them.
But I lost a lot of time and speed – unfortunately just at the very beginning of the only upward slope on the track. I then gave everything to get in contact with the peloton again. I somehow managed to end in the rear of the peolton with about 1 km to go, but then the sprint started and I had exhausted all my energy to close up. Tough shit.
So in the front the NFCC guys were fighting for the win while I had no chance at make a good result and I continued to go at 40 km/hr to the finish, ending up in 35th place. Ok, after the disaster last year when I avoided a crash in front of me and lost contact to the peoloton, this was a much better result but it could have been even better, if not for this ass-wipe who crashed.
I hope the limp dick wore a 45 liter rain protection and was mistakenly disposed off after the race.
Anyway, the NFCC team had a good result with Alain winning the race an R.C.H. in front of another Japanese rider (as usual) and Dean in third position. Kurata from the Veloz team ended up in 4th position as well, so I knew half of the people on the podium.
I was soaking wet, quickly changed my clothes and drove home. In the afternoon we got a new car. In the evening we had family dinner at Kappa-Sushi – our favourite hang out. I was finally sober again and with growing enthusiasm I read a new book called „English as Second f**king language„. A must have for all of us who are still lacking familiarity with the finer details of the English language. I tried to upgrade this blog with many of the new expressions I have learned – in italic.
I don’t think I will use it very often from now on. On Monday I had to travel to lake Biwa and Hikone to visit a factory there. A very scenic area, I found myself constantly thinking of how to ride with the bike on one of the nice roads I seen. Someday.