Les Gantiers – 17th edition – VTT Raid, St Junien

Les Gantiers 2008Remember when I rode this last year? A true blast of a race. One big loop run off at road race speeds, only off-road. Thing is, last year I was flying, and had super form. I’m not quite there this year. Though I’ve been looking forward to this one for weeks.

The start – Following the startline antics from last year the organisers have made the start a little wider. Yeah, but it still goes into the same gravel strewn 90 right after 50 metres! Chaos ensues, and again after another 50 meters the 90 left onto the road. I manage to get away in the first twenty riders. It’s fast. I’m breathing hard. On the road climb out of the river valley I manage to get up to the lead group. By the time we swing off into the first Chemin I’m looking at top twenty.

Mon Taxi Parti! – A group of about 6 riders is moving clear. I should be sat on the back of them. My taxi is leaving without me! I move up where I can. I’m working with a couple of roadies. We’re sharing the work well, and we’re making progress, slowly catching riders. There’s a long drag. One of my co-workers does a big turn on the front and blows himself up! Why? So just the two of us. We’re motoring.

Into some mucky sections. My friends chain sucks up, somethin’ gives, and his chain is broke! Too bad for him, and too bad for me. I’m on my own now. Two kms further on I spot one of the main contenders fixin’ a puncture. I’m hoping he gets it fixed fast so I can catch him when he comes flying past. He never does.

Economique – Looking ahead down some of the long straights at what must be two to three minutes into the future I can see half a dozen riders, though the nearest looks at least a minute ahead. There’s nobody close behind. I’m riding as fast as I can. 100% concentration so that not even half a pedal turn is wasted. It’s tough.
Les Gantiers 2008 - I made the vets podium
Into the last few kms. I’ve made a little progress, and I’m closer to the rider ahead than I was, but I ain’t gonna catch him. I cross the finish line in 15th position. I’m second Vet B. Beaten again by Jean Claude Sansonnet (US Nantiat). The first 7 riders are home together! With Jean Phillipe Menneteau (US Nantiat) taking the win. I’m some 5 minutes off the pace. It’s OK, I know what I have to do. 🙂

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