My palmarès – Part 1

“Well that’s my feat, I don’t want to diminish it/Came in third that’s a podium finish….Came in third, honourable mention/Booked my seat at the losers’ convention.”-The Fauves

Lines from “Podium Finish”, from one of my old favourites from Melbourne, The Fauves. I recommended clicking the play button on the player that I’ve embedded below to use as a soundtrack for this post. This and other b-sides are freely downloadable from their website.

Anyhow, this post is to inform you that I’ve added to my cycling palmarès in the past couple of weeks. For those of you that don’t know, a palmarès is the French term used in cycling that translates as “prize list”…so a list of wins, places and other notable results that you’ve had in past races.

I’m not that much of a cycle racer. Despite liking cycling a lot, I don’t have the dedication to train enough to race seriously. However, once in a while I enter a (semi) competitive event and have had a couple of modest successes.

This is how my palmarès (I use that term in the loosest possible sense) looked as of 2 weeks ago.

2001
1st Montmorency Hillclimb. Montmorency, Victoria, Australia.

Not as impressive as it sounds. This was a short sprint held on the slightly uphill main drag of this outer suburb of Melbourne as part of a community festival.

Other results:

2004
23rd 4 July. Cycle Messenger World Championships. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

I was pleased at this result in the CMWC, held just up the road from my old stomping ground in Calgary. I know I always bang on about this but I think that cycling 8hrs+ in constant rain (about 10° C) to qualify and then 5 hours in intermittent rain during the final is an achievement. I even finished ahead of Kevin “Squid” Bolger. It was an improvement on not qualifying for the final of the European Cycle Messenger Championships in London the previous year. At the very least, it’s a good war story to tell at the pub!

Over the past 2 weekends I’ve added a couple of distinctive results. The first of which is:

Other Results:

2007
5th 27 May. Gran Fondo Cymru (Sporting Route). Bala, Gwynedd, Wales.

Gran Fondo Cymru 2007

This event was held in Snowdonia National Park in Wales and last year, Gerard and I participated in the inaugural edition of this cyclosportive as detailed in the posts “A Hill too Far” and “To Ride or to Puke”.

In 2006, we did the 180 km/110 mile Gran Fondo route, but this year a variety of factors (not least laziness) meant that we were both under-trained for that distance…not to mention the Welsh hills! Therefore, we decided that the 60 km/40 mile route was the go, seeing as we’d already shelled out £25 to enter and also paid for accommodation.

Although this felt like a bit of a cop out for a while, the nearer the date of the event, the more it seemed like this decision didn’t seem such a bad thing when we saw the weather forecasts. The whole weekend was forecast to be one huge downpour with max. temperatures fluctuating between 1° C and 10° C, depending on when the Bala metcheck.com page was reloaded.

The profile you see above is downloaded from Gerard’s GPS unit and you can see that even though the distance was only 60-70 odd kilometres, there were still some hills to be reckoned with.

The first half of the route was into a stiff wind…at its worst maybe 30mph. Also, the spikes in the second half of the ride were pretty draining, exacerbated by the incessant precipitation and the cold conditions…probably about 3° C before windchill on average. I recovered quickly enough to have a strong run in the last 10km back into Bala to clock a time of 2hr 42min 54sec, placing me just off the “podium” in 5th. The caveat here is that all the super strong cyclists were all busting their butts on the 110mile Gran Fondo route and the 125 mile Super Challenge but not bad nevertheless. 5th out of 68 finishers, according to the official results sheet (85-ish starters).

Doing a 3 hour ride instead of an 8+ hour one had other advantages apart from spending less time in the freezing Welsh weather. It also meant that I wasn’t completely knackered like I was in 2006 and was able to enjoy my afternoon and evening more this year. The trip back to Oxford via Port Meirion was also quite pleasant…the sun came out!

However, I promise to train earlier and more frequently for next year’s GFC!!

Stay tuned for my account of extending my palmarès further by getting on the “podium” of last Friday’s Oxford Bingo Alleycat!

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