Pierre Chany ~ TP Round 6
was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the epoch of
belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. The words a great
novelist used to open a classic, literary masterpiece. Which this isn't,
but it sums the day up perfectly.
A week after the Pour La Paix
we find ourselves with another 8 hour drive to the Massif Central and Langeac. However, this time the burden was eased due to the fact I
had to collect my Championship Leaders Jersey. That was the "best
of times" bit; with just a hint of incredulity.
Let The Celebrations Commence
It's time to sign on and
collect the coveted Trophee Passion maillot noir.
When I started
this adventure I was hoping for a top five championship placing. To
hold a top three position for most of the season exceeded my expectations; to be presented with a jersey as championship
leader, was beyond belief and dreams. It made all the sacrifices
To be honest, (looking at my
well covered 72 kilos frame) there's not been that many sacrifices, it just sounds
a bit more
dramatic with that last bit added.
All signed on, I grab my goody bag and go with the organiser
to pick up the race leader's jersey from the "secret locker". As
he measured me up, he went to great pains to point out the breathable
micro-fibre material, the race cut, the full length zip and the overall
quality of this carbon-fibre looking, cloak of stealth. The irony
of the "Made in Italy" label inside the collar was obviously lost on
On race day, for the start, as
a championship leader you get ushered to the front of the VIP pens.
There you are photographed for the websites, specialist magazines,
sponsors, local newspapers and with the press dignitaries who are there
in abundance. (See below).
At the off, I find myself on
the front as we are shepherded by outriders through the street furniture
and out of town. We exit a roundabout, go under a viaduct and hit the
open road. I'm holding a steady 30kph and everyone's happy.
Then a tandem, with two
pro-looking whippets on it, go past at stupid speed plus a kilometre.
We've less than two k under our belt and we're doing 55kph on the run in
to the first climb at 7k in; a leg stinger 6%, the Montee de Bavat.
As we hit the steep ramps for the start of the climb there's
a sign that says "sommet 7k". Climbing at 320 watts, my legs feel
wooden and already my heart rate is over 200 bpm. This is going to
be a long day.
I'm slipping back slowly but
keeping the leaders in view. From behind I hear an "Allez Tony".
It's my mate from the Magne, Freddric Fraise, he's also doing the full
championship and our paths keep crossing in our race encounters. Fredric
passes me, shouts "bon courage" and slowly disappears in to the
distance. The reality of the days events that are about to unfold,
We get to the top of the
climb and I'm once more hovering with the second group. There's a
tiny respite of a descent, then the second surge of the Montee a St de
Nay begins. I hang on to a group of five as we pull away from
those around us. I am panting hard, pushing for all I'm worth, in
all sorts of trouble and pain, and absolutely bursting for a leak!
Didn't have time for my
pre-race wazz before the start, so I'm now paying the price for my lack
of professionalism. I desperately need to go. As we crest
the climb I drop to the back of the group. There's no way I can
stop, I'll never get back on and end up with the group behind.
So for the first time in a
good few years, it's an on the move comfort break. See if I can
remember how to do it; the trick is to take your weight off the saddle
to remove pressure from the "soft tissue" area and allow a free flow of
Trying to hold a line, descending at 60 kph,
while steering with one hand, not wee on your shoes and hit the apexes
without losing contact with the group you're in, is a tadge harder than
it looks on telly. Especially when it takes around a kilometre and
a half to empty your bladder! I thought it'd never stop!!!
Anyway, enough of that
unsavoury moment, wipe it form your minds, lets move on.
Furious (Then Careful)
Our group of five pushed on over the top and
could see the lead group ahead. There began a 15 kilometre, fast
and furious chase across the plateau. Toiletry detractions
removed, I'm now absolutely flying and
was conscious of the fact that this isn't the time to leave my destiny
to others. I had to give it everything to get across to the group
We'd picked up a few
stragglers and grew the group to nine but there were only around four of
us working and I was doing two turns to everyone else's one. As we
hit the third climb, my legs came back to me and I pushed at
the front setting tempo. A kilometre from the summit it started to rain, a gap
opened up to the group and one rider jumped across to come with me.
As we rounded the car park on
the summit there were a couple of parked ambulances! Well there's
a clue! The descent was one of the most technical I've done for a
long time. I was riding carbon Hyperons with Vittoria CX's.
An absolute dream in the dry, a nightmare in the wet. It was like
riding on ice. Luckily there was a straight bit and I got my gilet
on while descending; at least I'd be warm.
new companion was quite a handy descender and between the two of us we
made a round 20 places on the drop and saw many riders taking a tumble
in to the scenery; I counted at least five unfortunate souls.
At the very bottom of the
climb there were marshals everywhere as we came out of a very fast
corner, over a slippery railway level crossing and in to a sharp, 90
degree, left hand corner.
My riding chum very nearly
met his end right there. How he managed to ride the wall of death
and stay on I'll never know. I cut, slipped and slithered underneath him and
headed the 200 metres to the bottom of the 5 kilometre, 7% Baraque de Chaumas.
Hit the climb, gel down the
throat, gilet off. Climb on.
I was expecting people to
come across to me on the climb but they didn't. We must of pulled
shed loads out of them on the descent! I pressed on over
the, now dry, top and shot to the foot of the penultimate climb. I
even survived that one alone and managed to pick up, and drop, a few
riders on the way.
I came off the fifth ascent
and raced across the escarpment alone in to a block headwind and thought
I was going to make it to the final 1500 metre obstacle unchallenged.
Just as I
hit the base two riders, working together, came past me and hit the
climb at full gas. I jumped the wheel held it for a bit and blew
300 metres from the top.
The descent was an absolute
eyes-wide-shut, scream. Me with my head down, all Jens Voight-like,
chasing as though my life depended on it. They, doing everything
to stay away in a two-up TT to the finish.
We entered the outskirts of
Langeac and my only hope is that they would mess about for the sprint.
They didn't, I entered the 200 metre finishing straight as they crossed
the line. Game over.
Black Day for Maillot Noir
Never have I worked so hard in a race for
so little. Over an hour of the race (nearly 25%) was spent with my
heart rate between 185 and 195 bpm! The result? A lowly 31st
place, with points awarded to the first 30 finishers. Mon Dieu!
The fact that I still achieved a Gold Standard finishing time was no
My first non-scoring round of
the year and a poor defence of a championship lead. I later found
out that this event is also a counting event for two other regional
championships and the whole of bloody France's elite vets were taking
So this'll be the round that
I drop then! I leave Langeac with no points and drop down to third
in the championship, one point off second place and nine of the lead.
It's still doable as the last two events are less mountainous and will
end in sprints. Right up my street...
Dianne rode the shorter 55k event that had 890 meters of climbing, all
contained in the one climb.
This event also doubles up as
the Championship for French Cycling Journalists, with a tricolour jersey
being awarded at the end of it.
Obviously it was a little
more competitive than she's used to but she had a great ride and
"sort-of" enjoyed herself.
When we got the photo, I said
where's your glasses? She said it was that hot she had to take
them off as her eyes were sweating!
Her ride headed north, ours headed south. Two
different weather systems in two different valleys. How very strange.
So a day of mixed fortunes,
challenges and expectations. But then isn't that what these events
are all about. If I wanted consistency and predictability I could
always stay at home and race in Jersey!
Just like Antonin Magne, there's a fair chance most of you haven't
heard of Pierre Chany either; here's his wikipedea entry. These
boys had a life we couldn't even imagine....
(16 December 1922 - 18
June 1996) was a French
cycling journalist. He
Tour de France 49
times and was for a long
time the main cycling
writer for the daily
Haute-Loire, the son
of a near-illiterate
father who worked in the
horse industry. The
family then moved to
Paris, to run a small
bar in the rue Guillaume
Bertrand, in the 11th
Chany grew up there and,
in his teens, escaped
from the city on his
riding as far as
Match and looking at
sepia pictures of riders
André Leducq. He
rode several races,
including the Premier
Pas Dunlop event which
in other years showed
the talent of young
riders such as
Louison Bobet and
In Chanaleilles, he won
a cycle and a running
race on the same day,
winning two packets of
cigarettes. After that
he joined the CV des Marchés club in Paris. He raced
for five years and then,
in 1942 when he was 20,
went into hiding rather
than be sent to
Germany as a worker.
arrested and jailed
first at Puy-en-Velay
and then Riom. He
escaped - on his
birthday - from a train
taking him to Germany. He joined a branch of
joined an Algerian
regiment. He was wounded
three times and awarded
Croix de Guerre.