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UCI Masters 2009

UCI World Masters Road Championships 2009
Christine McLean

The suggestion that I entered the UCI World Masters Road Championships came from David Harmon of Eurosport. My  sister had thrust a phone number on me telling me it belonged to the son-in-law of a friend who was involved in cycling and would be interested in a chat. Before that I had never considered that a novice like me would gain access to such a grand sounding event.

The web site is an interesting mix of Austrian and English from which I managed to ascertain basic details such as dates and venue. Bizarrely the road races can be entered near enough ‘on the line’ however it was imperative to enter the time trial well before the closing date as this can be oversubscribed.  I found the on-line entry but without an Austrian translator I couldn’t make out which was the TT so just entered everything going to make sure! The entry fee for the TT was 20Euros and the RR 30, this could be paid on line in advance or at the race HQ prior to the event.

The website also gave some hint on the courses and the previous years results. I was familiar with some of the riders names from competing in England such as Julia Shaw and Avril Swan so their times gave me an idea of how I might fare.

In the back of my mind was the idea that I would ride the RR too just to make it better value trip so when Neil expressed an interest in coming with me I jumped at the chance as in addition to his company and support it solved the  problem of how to take both tt bike and road bike.

The event is held in St Johan every year, we had never been to Austria so it took quite a bit of homework to find out the various methods of getting there. We opted for what looked like the most straight forward route from Shetland which involved flying to Munich via Edinburgh then car hire and a couple of hours drive to St Johann. Accommodation was all done online too, there seemed plenty of choice available in the area. We booked half board at a typically Austrian looking hotel in the town and were extremely pleased.

The UCI’s introduction of new rules requiring certain parts of the bike to conform to a ratio of 3:1 was quite a dilemma and one I believe led me to make the wrong choice...I knew the tt bars on my Cervelo P3 didn’t meet with the requirements but I wasn’t 100% sure whether the seat post would fail too so instead of just changing the bars for those on the Planet X, I took the Planet X bike. 

Another concern was whether  taking part in the RTTC 12hr only 10days prior to the Masters TT was the best kind of preparation...probably not but with all the flights booked I didn’t want to give it a miss and besides I did a pb the week after last years 12hr.

Austria was beautiful and worth the journey just for the scenery. We travelled 2 days before the time trial and in fact racing was already underway and due to my overzealous online entering I was already down as a DNS on a road race, shame but we couldn’t have got away any earlier anyway. It took a while to find our way around and understand the procedures, there were cyclists everywhere with the entire town given over to the event. 
As soon as I could I was out on the bike checking out the tt course. It was 20kilometres in length and at first glance seemed flat apart from a nasty hill just before the turn however the garmin data showed a very slight gradient meaning the return leg was a long drag. Signing on for the time trial started the afternoon prior to the event, there were over 800 riders on the start sheet which meant being set off only 30secs apart to fit everyone in during the day. 

I was in Class 3 women, No307 and off at 1133hrs by which time the temperature had risen to 30degrees with full sun and calm conditions. Riders were called to the start enclosure in groups and bikes had to be checked, the place was pinned and it was all very nerve racking but at last I was next off albeit a little intimidated by the 6ft yank, Illinois tt champ, off  before me. 30secs intervals doesn’t leave much time for composure and before I knew it there were 5 fingers in front of my eyes and the adrenalin pumping beeps for the 5sec countdown.

I was down the ramp and accelerating on to the closed road ahead. It was a fantastic moment, I was very aware of leaving all the crowd noise behind and just hearing the whoosh of air passing over my helmet. No riders caught me and I kept the American in sight and even gained a little on her at the hill  however about a mile before the finish she increased her pace and I knew she had gained at least 5secs on me by the finish but what an incredible experience.

I finished 7th, 37secs behind the winner and only 9secs outside the medals.

A short 29 had been what I had in mind so 29:13 wasn’t far off  therefore although disappointed not to have been on the podium I felt I put in a good performance for my first attempt at it. 

The presentation in the evening certainly makes you feel like you’ve achieved something special. It was like being at an Olympic award ceremony with flags and national anthems and cups for the first 15 in each catagory. Awesome, they even had celebrity cyclists like Francisco Moser doing some of the presenting.

The following afternoon was the road race. I was incredibly nervous and would happily have pulled out but Neil wanted photos of my ‘sprint finish’ so to oblige I reluctantly joined the bunch on the start line. I’m so glad I did as once I got into it and my fear of coming off evaporated I loved it and cursed myself for my initial skulking at the back.

The course was, at 40k, short but it did include some significant climbing, it passed through some fantastic mountain scenery and the crowds gave it all a real buzz. 
I missed the initial break which was on the first climb but caught the second group and enjoyed the experience of  working ‘through and off’ for a significant part of the race.

I was my own downfall on the last few kilometres as I got tired of the irritating reluctance of the other riders to take turns at the front so I just sat there and led them all in to the finishing straight  experiencing the inevitability of them sprinting past me for the line. However I was not last, in fact I was 15th so was once again the proud owner of another shiny trophy for my efforts.

I can only recommend the whole experience to anyone who gets the chance.