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31 Oct 2012

Still got it

'Groningen' didn't go so well. The K's chain kept dropping due to the bumpy track. And those bumps made it difficult to go fast anyway. 'LEL' went without technical difficulties. There I was slow because the engine suffered from milage.

So I started to have doubts. Was I still quite fast? Or had the live with jobs 'n stuff taken away the sparkling bit out of me. The part of me that likes the 9th gear of my Fuego and knows how to use it.

It was on Saturday that a change at my job gave me time to race at Apeldoorn on Sunday, during the Elan record day. Just over 24 hours before the start. Not the usual weeks. Not even a whole week to take it easy like I used to do befor a race. First I seriously thought I would give mbb-fwd a try at a velodrome. But the idea of riding that single handed at 50kph scared me. On Sunday morning I decided that mbb-fwd is not for me on a steep banked track. I'd play save, not waste 5 hours of travelling and find out it doesn't work, I'd race my Fuego.

The latest ride on that was from Huizen to home, over 152km. Yivalté did not need much changed for the race. Both tires require 8bar, and the air shock 10 bar. That, and a whiping of some sand was all. So, from tourer to racer in almost no time. A true 'gran turismo'. The small amount of lugage for a race day goes in to a pair of Radical Design Solo Racer panniers.

Despite having worked late, 2am, I feel fit and relaxed. I've eaten good, and rest well enough it seems. Like almost always, the trains rode according to schedule. It's very quiet in the velodrome. There's no special record atmosphere like there was the first time this event was held.

In a 5 minute warm-up I test every gear and ride around at a moderate pace. The bike feels right, now lets see what the engine can do today.

During the race I'm faster than I expected. Since the last race at a velodrome my 'riding quite fast but not getting tired quickly without slip-streaming speed' has gone up by 1.5kph! I try to ride a race on my own and I grab every draft that's in my reach. And than I'm leading a small group again. Not much later I'm on a fast 50+ lap. There are no weak moments in this 45 minutes criterium. And the final 3 minutes are really fun. I draft behind Sjaak on his RazzFazz. 51, 52, and the final lap at 55.

The result is that I feel great and the average on my speedo is 45.9kph. On the time keeping the avg. 45.2. And that compared to previous races like this, is a good result. One of my best ever actually! I still got it.

Back in my hometown again, the Fuego is back in her rol as real world 'bent. Swiftly manouvring through a quiet Assen. Being agile, fast and comfortable.

18 Oct 2012

LEL 2012

After a long day that started at 6 in the morning, I left home to ride to Almere in about 4.5 hours. One week earlier I'd bought soft springs from to improve the comfort of my K. And those are a leap forward! Yes, I loose some sideways stability, but having 1.5cm of 'soft' suspension (+1cm hard) really makes riding a lot more pleasant. The stock suspension was just way too hard for a rider like me. I'm talking about the front now. The rear was right from the start.

After 2 hours the combination of light rain, darkness and glasses starts to become a problem on roads or paths without white lines. It's a known problem to me, though I had almost forgotten about it since I didn't have to deal with it for a long time. The solution will be, as I see it now, to have a 80 lux Philips e-bike head light in the air in-take of the K for these situations. My current light (fine for most situations) sits where a right hand side mirror would be. But when the nose of my VM is wet, the light reflects in the water.

Luckily I knew exactly where I was going. Because at the most difficult moments, I didn't see more than 2 green blurs left and right with a large black patch in the middle.

Just after 10 I arrived at my place for the night. I was welcomed with a shower, a pasta meal and friendly cat. The bed was so good that I slept for 9 hours straight. Perhaps the 155km of Saturday also contributed to this...

It was just after 13h when we arrived at the start of the time trial of the dike between Lelystad and Enkhuizen. The distance is 51km and the fastest riders cover that distance in under 55 minutes. I was hoping to need 1:05 or so. But would the 180km I'd already ridden and not using a head fairing stop me form achieving that? Yes they did, and quite succesful too. I needed 1:14. And whilst being the only one with all that distance in his legs, I ranked 10th place. Another racer's excuse was that I was riding a stock VM without aero ad ons.

All in all my preparation just wasn that good. But it's fun to take part, and a 43 average isn't slow, it just isn't fast. In 2010, when I got their by car, the weather was nice, and raced with a hooded Mango, I was 6 minutes faster! So, doing everything by bike is nice, but has a horrible effect on my race result.

Luckily, the ride home was more Evo-K-esque. Effortless cruising at 40 through a desserted landscape. For the 1st 10km I rode with Dirk, untill he got a flat. With still 100km to go for me, and only 25 for him, I said goodbye and rode on.

Many riders had flat tires this year. The surface of the dike has seen better days, but also the choice for very fast tires, or tubes with a thread as I call them, doesn't help either. Interesting to see at LEL was the newest evolution of the Evo, the Ks. A bit smaller, and perhaps a bit faster. I'm not a fan of it's exposed suspension parts though. It would suite me very well, yes. But my K isn suddenly 'yesterdays VM'. It's still very good. And I keep improving it too.