A team I may consider to join.
I woke up at 6.30 hr in the morning after having dreamt that my connection flight from the island of Huahua to Seoul has been canceled forever. These are the times of dreams I normally have before a day at the races.
However, for the credit of this trace I have to say that the weather was much better than for the same race one year earlier. One year earlier I decided to stay in bed after looking out of the window. This year there was no excuse. As this is one of the only four races I can actually ride to from my home (the other ones being Yokohama Stadium Endurance, Tour du Japan Tokyo Stage in Oifuto and Fuji Hill Climb), I couldn’t possibly miss it.
For some reason, the Tokyo Enduro is a jinxed race for me. The first bicycle race I ever attended, not as a racer but as a spectator, was hold in October 1990 on precisely that track in Tachikawa. I came to watch my former youth idol Joern Kinzel, inventor of the famous Kinzel K1. Since that it has always been my dream to race there, I applied in 2005 to attend the possibly first Tokyo Enduro, only to find myself unable to attend because of a very bad ear infection. In 2006 I missed the deadline for application. In 2007 I don’t recall what has hindered me to attend, but something did. And last year I registered but decided not to ride because of the weather.
So all propped up and riding against a strong headwind I made my way up to Tachikawa. There were many riders out at the Tamagawa, most of the probably heading in the same direction and it was hard to restrict myself not become to competitive as I wanted to keep some power for the race. I arrived and met Tom just by chance at the gate. James and his family got already in and set up a place and a tent at a very convenient place to the pit stop. The TCC riders were also coming in and we had a few chats but just as we, everybody was nervous and in a hurry to get ready for the race. The Catteni Positivo guys also came and set up their tent just next to our one. The first part of our strategy went very well.
That is, that James, our first rider went to the startline early and got into the top 50 or 100 rider group so that he could hang out with the fast guys as long as possible. He did just that for the first seven laps and when he made the last of his laps he sprinted ahead of the group, entered the pit and changed to Tom so that he could also enjoy being part of the fast group. After four more laps Tom changed to me and when I came out of the pit there was no fast group to hang on to. This is really the key to win the race, if you are alone on the track, there is no way that you can go fast for a longer period of time. So I did my four laps all on my own, killed some wheelsuckers and passed to Kaori who did her part and passed to James again. The president of Corratec, shooting at random riders who don’t use his bikes.
After a while I went to check the results at the monitors and saw that all of the TCC teams were doing very well and that we were in 9th position in the mixed class. We were way faster than our original plan which was based on the idea that we should be faster than the winner last year.
Well, as I mentioned already for the Motegi race: Racing has not become easier and the competition is becoming stronger year by year. We are not racing against an ever faster competition but also against age and our chances to win are very slim indeed now. For example the mixed team from Catteni Positivo, that made 2nd place last year came in 11th this year, full two laps behind us.
James made a very good run that and put us back into podium reach, by the end of his tour we were in fifth place and 2 minutes away from the third placed team. Tom made further time good and passed the baton to me with about 40 minutes to go. As the pit closes 15 minutes before the end of the race we decided that I would do three laps and then pass to James for the last two ones. Again I was alone on the track but after a while I found one guy one could keep up me and we were pulling each other until we were overtaken by a fast group of five riders to which I could hang on.
Later after moving into the pit and checking the results I realized that one rider in this group was the 4th placed mixed team. I should have stayed out with the fast group and ride to the end as I was also feeling good enough to stay with them, but I decided to stick to the plan and handed over to James. This cost as not only one minute time because of the pit stop but James was now alone on the track again which cost further time. I moved out as well, waited until James finished his first lap and then drafted him 2 km or so before I ran out of gas again.
In the end we made respectable 5th place in the mixed cat, but I am sure that we could have made podium if we would have had better race infos and reduced our number of pit stops.
I guess this is the lesson from the race:
1. We need to get wired.
2. Four riders = three pit stops
Anyway, we had a very good time. Tom’s wife also provided us with some nice Belgium waffles which fueled us up through the race. Nichibe-san also showed up to support us. TCC had a very strong showing. I helped James to pack the tent and transport all the stuff to his car, then I went on to the next race which consisted of a 35 km ride back home which I had to make by 5 PM as my wife wanted to go out and I had to take care of the kids. I finished 5 minutes behind the deadline.