May 20, 2016
Seven riders took the start: Rick, Fritz, David, Pascal, Marcel, Olivier and I. Ah, and there was also Chris who arrived 10’ late and tried hard to chase down the peloton in vain, even on the wrong route. We got to see him only at the finish line at Greco with new shoes that replaced his 30 year old socks with cleats.
Olivier made a come-back after his last ride in February, where he also struggled. This suggests it might be a good idea to get some training ahead of the big rides (Rule #5). His compatriots also made sure to give him the usual treatment for newcomers in the first leg to Helwan. On top of that, after the first stop at km 34 junction of the Asyout road with the Regional Ring Road, his bike also paid tribute to the lack of action: the chain went on strike as we headed off up slope for the 37 km long leg. Only Fritz was aware of this and was there to help, so he will get an award for this.
While the peloton wondered what happened to these guys, we learned from the driver that Chris came out of the blue and rode with Olivier on the long leg. Fritz tried to connect, but we were 5 and the wind was coming against us at 19 km/h (according to the prognosis), so he had to talk to himself for 1h45’, but enjoyed very much the landscape.
At about the middle of the leg Marcel punctured, and while he was changing the tube the sag wagon miraculously appeared with Pascal’s repertoire of tools and wheels, so he got a spare wheel within seconds, “a la Tour de France”, and we only lost 4 minutes.
After we restarted things became hairy: David launched his first of several attacks aimed at dropping Pascal. The first one got him a small gap to the peloton, but the head wind was strong and he was reeled in. The second attack was contested by Rick and me, and I thought the others got dropped. I realized how mistaken I was when I saw Pascal and Marcel taking their turns. Then a third attack with the same outcome: nobody got dropped. This must have become frustrating for David, and this on his farewell ride.
We got to the top of the mountain altogether despite further shakes. There, Pascal made his move as the terrain became flatter, making lots of damage. David counterattacked on the hills of the last 5 km and he was definitely determined to take victims, evidently by his zig-zag course and looking behind (he has been watching the Giro obviously). Eventually he got rid of Pascal, and later of Rick, but he had to dispute a photo finish against Marcel and me at the finish line of the Ain Soukhna Bridge, whose winner depends on where you draw the line.
At this second stop, Pascal’s car with water came like fallen from heaven. Fritz rejoined the ride there, and the six of us started the way back on the Ain Soukhna road, now with favorable wind. Shortly before the toll booth, I ran out of legs, so what happened next comes from what I believe are reliable sources.
Pascal and Fritz detached from the others on the descent (true, you can see it in the flybys), but Pascal decided to wait for them for the sprint. It back-fired on him, as Rick surprisingly took him on in the sprint line by half a machine or so. Now it’s clear that his purpose of breaking a record of Mokattam repeats last week was to improve his sprinting skills. In any case, they get a scold for not honoring the tradition of letting the rider on his farewell win the sprint, although he tried hard to get it.
This ride segment ended with Fritz falling down on one of the speed bumps of the bottom of the road, fortunately without consequences. This is where the photo of the participants, except Chris, was taken. The ride ended as usual at the Greco without more incidents, and a superb mood. It was another fantastic ride, well done everybody!
Best start, aka the Suspicious Breakfast Award: Pascal
Good Samaritan: Fritz
Regularité: Marcel, all the day in the front pack
Lanterne Rouge: Olivier
Don Quijote against the windmills: Chris
Logistics provided by Pascal, without which the ride would not have been possible, many thanks amigo.