Solo were title sponsor for a ‘Gentlemen’s Race’ recently. The full title being the ‘Solo race-bred cyclewear Race of 6 Friends’. Whew… The race was run over 130km and consisted of a 6 person team time trial. The course included sections of gravel and an 18% climb. If that wasn’t tricky enough, route maps of the course were only handed out (yes – you had to navigate as well) minutes before the teams departed. Twenty teams of 6 set off at 3 minute intervals from 7.30am on a freezing cold Sunday morning. Mighty Team Solo consisted of Al ‘ Armageddon’ Borwick, Dale ‘Il Bastardo’ Crompton, Mike ‘Mickey D’ Dowsing, Ron ‘Meathooks’ King, Darron ‘Silver Fox’ Jackson and Steve ‘The Man’ Mangino. Written in his unique style, Meathooks has handed in the following report:
Ride preparation was good. Plenty of Tour watching, lots of pub and email strategising, and a few rides thrown in for good measure by a few of the team. Nice one. Though DS Paul will attest to a slightly rocky build up losing two crack riders due to development squad duties and Dr Fuente certification. This pattern was nicely mirrored on the start line as our 10 second countdown had to be aborted due to the loss of two riders (thankfully discovered behind separate bushes). Lots of shouting and a one minute restart ensuing. The starting 10km saw Meathooks and Armageddon launch repeated big-ring attacks to be left dangling off the front in an attempt to ward off the sub-zero chill. Once Mighty Team Solo had got a rhythm going the paceline resembled nothing less than a well oiled octopus. On acid. Imaginary foes were chased, silent exit attack orders issued, non-existent sit in calls were heeded. First mechanicals ominously manifested around the 15km mark as Meathooks kept dropping the chain after a hastily installed front derailleur didn’t behave in the same fashion as the 5min test ride the evening before. Shortly after regrouping we were passed the first overtaking team. Luckily Il Bastardo or Armageddon (I’m foggy here) picked the first photo point whilst overtaking team No.1 flew on, suckers. They’d surely suffer a 1hr penalty, as we took a mere 15min to set up the shot. After getting passed by the third team it was clear that all the other teams were going out hot and we’d reel them in with a perfectly executed tempo ride with our years of wiley experience. Sometime between photo point number one and two the second mechanical issue arose as plumbing issues became evident within the team. Not sure how many toilet stops were made but it culminated in 5 of the team pulling over for a piss while getting overtaken by a bunch of wheezy old men and girls. From hereon in the magnificent tempo riding started reeling the muppet teams in (were we last on the course at this stage?) While we were mixed among the other teams Mickey D, The Man, and Il Bastardo inserted themselves, clearly in a tactic to chat to other team members in an effort to disrupt their pacelines. Nice work guys, we totally screwed them. Enter mechanicals number 3 and 4. The first of three (or four) gravel road punctures. Sage advice for the team – if some knob tells you to ride at 50psi before the race, ‘cause he swears by it and has ‘evidence’ to back it up, shove a pump in his spokes. Of course the inflating pump was broken, the air canister not properly attached, and the spare tube defective. To boot Meathooks, in a further sign of his immaculate preparation, developed loose cleats making dismounts difficult. Issue sorted, not so much by tightening, as rounding of the fixing allen bolts. For all the excellent navigation of Armageddon, his attempt to slim from a hefty 57kg in preparation for R6F by self induced amoebic dysentery in the days leading up to the ride made for a tough day. Armageddon was clearly in a weakened, delirious state, perfect for a navigator. How he managed to ride and direct multiple team (didn’t any of those other bastards have a navigator?) We’ll never know. I won’t say anything about the Denny Menchov moment of Il Bastardo as he crashed rounding an uphill bend, nice he did it in front of a camera though. The run back from Helensville saw a regrouping of teams as The Man provided cover for Armageddon, Il Bastardo was riding everyone off his wheel and the Silver Fox and Mickey D were providing rear guard action to prevent the other teams inserting themselves into our workgroup. The 18% gravel Kiwitahi climb saw the expected implosion of those on inferior drugs and preparation in the peloton as Meathooks got spat out with cramps and general complaint as he was unable to clip back in as the team rode off. The ‘fast’ finish also showed those riders who’d been managing their efforts (and adequately prepared). The climb I believe was grabbed by the Silver Fox (though feel free to correct me here) The ride back saw the Silver Fox step out in style again, having to reeled back by the team several times. The Man didn’t seem to be effected by the previous 115km at all as far as anyone could tell. Mickey D was gluing the front with the back of the team. Armageddon and Meathooks were both off their rockers. And who knows the state of Il Bastardo at any time? In the last 2km finally saw some semblance of a paceline resulting in the comprehensive overshooting of the final turn into the finishing straight and a near motor vehicle moment. Symmetry between start and finish if nothing else.