Monday, May 19, 2008

Tour du Canton

This weekend I did my first stage race and I think the only one of the Haute-Garonne region in the town of La Fousseret. It is about 30 minutes from Toulouse and one of the bigger races of the year around these parts. Spending 5 days in Lyon previous to this race was not ideal preparation as I only rode once the week before. But, its racing and its in France so why not take it to the hurt locker and have some fun. The hurt locker came super early for me and stage one was over after 80km for me. I did manage to "breakaway" from my groupetto on a downhill (the French cannot descend) and solo the last 25km by myself. It was a cheap move, but I was here to gain some fitness and burn a calorie or two of that Andouillette a la moutarde that I reported on previously from Lyon! It was fun to imagine that I was racing instead of soloing for 71st place! The morning time trial of a board flat 10K loop was no better as I was out for the count at kilometer deux (two). Rode it pretty easy and put my pride into my pocket. Before the afternoon stage, I was pretty sure that I would quit after a lap or two because I was destroyed. But, the body is a funny thing and surprises would be in store.
This had to be the coolest race I have ever done. We did a 17km loop out into the rolling countryside and then back into the village and took on a very difficult 3km climb to the finish line every lap. The road narrowed into a tiny village street and it had to be the closest thing I have ever seen other than watching the Euro races on TV back in the States.
The finish was at the very top of the village and it also marked one of the 5 Gran Prix de Montagne (King of the Mountain) spots. The race also had 4 sprints for the Sprint competition so the race had a very cool vibe about it and the race offered jerseys for each competition. I had no go at any of those, but my legs turned really good on the 2nd to last lap of this stage 3 and I was able to sprint it out for 2nd place on the stage. All of the classifications were raced together all week and I got beat at the line by 1 centimeter by a guy who just happened to be in my classification, so no flowers or trophy for me!
At the awards podium, we collected our prizes and I was more than happy with mine.............
assorted grocery food items from the supermarket Casino! Since I can't take a trophy back to America with me, and the flowers would eventually die, this was the best prize in my book! It was like Halloween-o-snacks. The 3rd place guy won 3 bottles of wine and I tried to trade him my sack of snacks for his wine, but he didn't understand me and thought I was giving him my granola bars. After that awkward encounter, I choose to keep my 2 cartons of juice (Grape, OJ), pain de epices (gingerbread), pomme de compote (apple sauce), barres cereales (granola bar), barquettes (apricot cookies), tartines grillees au froment (wheat crackers), and pate de gourmand (butterfly pasta). Random, no?

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