September 24/06 4:53 am - A Ride on the Worlds Course
Posted by Editor on 09/24/06
Previewing the UCI World Road Championships Circuit
By Monique Hanley
There are a few ways you can check out a race course: some of the more simple methods would be noting the distances, viewing a map or even checking out the elevation profile. Or you could drive around the course for a quick preview. But how you get a sense of what a course actually feels like? Is the hill steep and long because your car has only a 1.6L engine and is struggling, or is the hill really steep and long? There is no other way to answer this than to ride the course yourself.
Riding the course itself can also be done in a number of ways. Given the 2006 circuit is based on the road network I could have ridden it a number of times already this week. But the race is not run with roads full of vehicles and working traffic lights. My only opportunity to get a true sense of the course was to make full use of the closed training circuit. The same closed training circuit only available to riders competing at the World Championships this weekend.
My travel companion, a trusty steel-framed Gios of almost fifteen years, emerged for the occasion. Despite the age of my machine, paint chips and evidence of rust, I had little trouble convincing the armed guard at a pedestrian crossing that I had been waylaid and required re-access onto the course. Suddenly I had a view from the other side of the fence.
With an entire road completely fenced from the world and its restrictions, combined with the adrenaline rush of being there under false pretences, I felt like a kid let loose in a toy store. Two German riders kitted out in their Gerolsteiner gear passed me: I immediately jumped on the back of their slip stream. Kids called out from the 'other side of the fence': I wheeled over and gave them high 5's. Once we hit the second major climb of the course, which strikes up at a nasty 15%, I lost sight of my baby blue wind breakers on their significantly lighter bikes. All alone, I cruised over the climb and discovered the wondeful descent. I started riding big 'S' shapes across the road, free wheeling on the smooth new road surface laid specifically for this event. Looking back at how excited I was, I am slightly surprised I didn't sing anything about the hills being alive with something.
The final run into town was filled with an endless stream of 90 degree turns that became confusing after a while. It was luck then that the Estonian squad passed by and I was able to jump on the back of a more professional outfit in which to handle the corners. But was the finish around the next bend or the one after? You could forgive the time triallers for their technical errors in this section from this perspective.
All in all, the course was very quick, a little repetitive in the turns to the finish and some of the false flats on the top of the climbs, but all in all should be a whole bunch of fun.