First race of the year,
After an illness in December and ugly weather in January, I finally got some miles in and decided to try a bike race that I had never done before. According to the local promoters, a kermesse is a race consisting of road and off road mixed in a 3 or 4 mile circuit with everyone (all cats, men and women) starting at the same time.
It was a clear, sunny and cold start for the race. When the whistle blew, we went up a tarmac road for a mile and then turned right onto a proliferation of fire/maintenance roads that were hard packed dirt with boulders sticking up from the road surface. The race course had to be modified from event description due to the downed tree limbs from our recent storm. When racing the off tarmac portion, the protruding boulders kissed the tires in such a way as to produce a rhythmic vibration that our massage sponsor would find quite dreadful. Said rocks also pulled the air right out of many of the skinny tired bikes. I used 32mm tires with about 35psi on my cross bike and did not have a flat (I weigh 130lbs). On the rocky down hill, the bike took a real pounding.
Everyone started at the same time so the fast guys went up the road as I struggled to warm up. After several laps a small group formed at the back and we continued to rumble through the rocks, then tarmac.....repeat. After about 5 laps, three fast guys passed us then life returned to normal. The race was feeling like a very long cross race without barriers. There were only two wet sections on the course but that was enough to fill my shoes with water and subsequently make my feet very cold. On the very last lap, the second group of fast guys caught me just as I was about to go down the rocky down hill. I tried to stay out of their way but in the process got forced to the side of the trail into deep ruts, had to slow down and lost contact with my small group. I struggled to catch up but did not get back to the group for the finish.
I got 33rd place out of 50 starters but maybe 10 or more folks flatted due to pinch flats on the rocks. During the race I noticed that a woman was glued to my back wheel during the race. After crossing the finish, she came up to me and said thanks for pulling her along. You are welcome Heidi. At the end of the race, I got tangled up in traffic and she placed just in front of me.