Archive for February, 2016

Hell man! ride…

February 19, 2016

6:30am – A group of bicycle riders, that do not seem to have much of night social life, gather at the usual place. Hungry for asphalt like a pack of wolves they get going for what will be the first long ride of the season. Thankfully the bright orange mixed with ochre of their jerseys (ochre? really? thanks for that Mike…) make them look a lot less scary than any wolf.

A records number of 11 riders start the stage. Way too many to name them all. Will they all finish? to early to tell.

7:20am – A group of 4 riders manages to break out on the way to the toll in Sokhna road. They complete the segment and recharge batteries while waiting on the peloton and the grupetto. Hmm…. it seems some of the guys are saving energy for the regional ring road portion. What do they know that the rest don’t? probably nothing, it is an easy downhill section with tail wind, nothing to worry about.

8:30am – After the traditional puncture from Luis, the team gathers at the entrance of the regional ring road. At this point only 8 have made the cut, natural selection is tough when on a bike. Big round of applause for Olivier who is still amongst the living…but not for long I am afraid.

Surprise! who said tail wind? a strong 3/4 head wind is giving us a big welcome hug. Everybody turns to Pascal…you knew! After claiming innocence, Pascal takes the lead and the group decides that a little wind will not stop the pack. Wheel to wheel we start what will be a memorable 36km in the regional ring road.

Long section of fight against unforgiving nature, even going downhill is difficult. Helwan is called? Hell man! some are saying. After a couple of km the first men are lost, there is a good team effort to keep the survivals united. However, strategies start to kick in. The wolves are getting hungrier but nobody makes any move, until…

Until Pascal places one of his mythical attacks! in a climb! mysteriously dropping everybody. Everybody? no! Luis and Rick manage to get the extra watts and stick to Pascal’s wheel. Geoff, David and Jason can only see the attackers escape; there is nothing they can do.

There are 15Km to go, will the three leaders maintain the distance? Will David, Geoff and Jason with his TT bike come back?, is Joe also catching up?, is Olivier alive? suspense is at its peak!

The leaders were the strongest and smartest, and despite the historical French-German animosity, Luis and Pascal managed to work together, with strong contribution from Rick (who is believed to have spent 93% of the time in front, but who is counting) and maintained the distance. However, the “entente cordiale” cannot last forever. Pascal, having as its ultimate objective in life to drop Luis, pushes for the sprint. There is no record, but apparently Pascal did win the sprint and got crowned as king for a day of the regional ring road. Congratulations!

Jason, David and Geoff and not too far behind, but far enough to be bullied by the winners, something about age average that I cannot recall. Joe finishes at an honorable 7th place while there is no sign of Olivier.

When the crew sees a group of Vulture flying in circles, the worst is imagined about Olivier’s fate. But just when a SWAT team is being prepared for rescue mission, he shows up. Apparently not tired at all, “a mechanical problem” he says.

10:00am – After a long 99km ride the team manages to get to the Taca gas station virtually with no water in the bottles and no gas in the tanks, David and Joe get there last, well, not counting Olivier who is again having “mechanical problems”. At this point we observe a suspicious 4×4 vehicle, we recognize it…it is Pascal’s car waiting to get his new bicycle away so he avoids the usual mechanical checks of end of stage. Did he have a motor? maybe electromagnetic wheel? we will never know. What we do know is that a rider that does not finish the stage is immediately disqualified. Pascal loses his king for the day trophy. The judges decide to award to the second place, congratulations Luis! you are the king for a day of the regional ring road.

After the traditional picture of the stage, the team congratulates each other and get back into their bikes for the last 20km to Maadi.

10:45am – 120km and 4:15hrs later, the last survivors manage to get to Greco’s safe heaven. Only two men actually officially finished the stage, Luis and David. It seems the rest could not wait to get quickly back home and tell their wives the great adventure they just went through. Unless somebody was in a hurry to travel to China, but who would believe that excuse!?

So, all in all, we had a bit of everything in this ride: Tail and Head wind, punctures, attacks, sprints, suspicions. But above all, team work, good vibes, carrot cake and coffee!

Helwan Ride 2016, checked!

David L.

 

from left: Geoff, Luis, Pascal, Jason, Rick, David & Joe. absent: Olivier, a km away

from left: Geoff, Luis, Pascal, Jason, Rick, David & Joe. absent: Olivier, a km away

 

at the Regional Ring Road exit

at the Regional Ring Road exit

 

 

 

 

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