I’m back in G-town after three days of pain up at the Tour Doon Hame stage race in Dumfries, Scotland. Last year I rode this same race, so basically I had some experience as to how cold and wet it could get up there! [watch it! - ed.]
This time it looked like we were in for a better run because when I arrived in Glasgow with Jack and our Spanish masseur Tex it was 24 degrees and the sun was out! Initially we thought the pilot had made a few navigational errors and landed the plane back in Girona. But it was beautiful, and it just got warmer as we hired a car and made our way south down to Dumfries. Tex, I mean Carlos Sainz, kept us on the edge of our seats with his driving. I don’t think he’d driven on the left side of the road before or in a right-hand drive car for that matter, so we spent a fair bit of time on the curb. I wonder if he’s heard from the car hire place about the state of the front rim yet? It must have had seriously good rubber on it because I could have sworn he blew out the front tyre on impact with the curb. Tex said something about the curbs being way smaller back in Spain Ha-ha!
We were all really motivated as a team to come away with a good result from the race, especially as we had taken 2nd last year. This time we were back to win. It’s also a really important race for Endura as a sponsor and as a Scottish based business. This was their home race, and everyone wants to win at home!
We were all up early on the Saturday morning ready for stage one and guess what? It was hosing down outside. Turns out this was Scotland after all. And man it was freezing! I wasn’t happy. I'm still not feeling 100% and still coming back to form after a serious bout of food poisoning. I’d been training and preparing well, but five days spent on the toilet with no food really sets you back. Your legs feel empty, weak, and your endurance is shot to hell. But anyway, I was as ready as I could be at that moment. The thing is, when it’s cold and raining your legs just feel that much heavier and sluggish. I think I would have gone as well if I’d had a couple blocks of concrete to push the pedals!
As soon as the gun went I knew I was in for a hard day, but the last thing you want to do on the first stage is sit back and relax because as expected, the GC was practically sorted out on the 1st stage. My day went downhill straight away when I punctured in the first four kilometres of the race. As I got a wheel change I then got to witness Jack Anderson collide with a car door while pacing back on after a mechanical! It was a grisly sight, he’s already covered in scars from hitting the deck back in March at the Tour de Normandie and this didn‘t help his case. I was standing about two metres away from him when he tried to ride through the door - the roads were slippery, there were massive potholes, convoy cars were everywhere and when he took flight and subsequently smacked his head on the asphalt I started to seriously consider the possibility of covering the rent by myself from now on... But tough bastard that he is he survived and continued in the race. I got a free lesson that day about what it takes sometimes, you just gotta get up and get on with it.
As it turned out the overall for the race didn’t go as we’d hoped. I ended up day one in 3rd place and didn’t manage to improve it over the two final stages. I had a few digs during the stages to try and get away and take some time, but my legs just weren’t doing what they were told. But I did manage to take the KOM jersey home - as a consolation prize! It’s hanging up on the wall in my lounge. I tell people it’s from the Vuelta...
Photo by Larry Hickmott | www.VeloUK.net