All those hours training. All the things you’ve given up. The early starts. All the sacrifices you and your nearest and dearest have made to get you to this moment…You’re on the start line of the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships 2022 and representing yourself, your family, your club. And now as you zip up your jersey, you are representing your country.
What must have been going through the minds of Forge’s turbo trio of Gareth S, Lewis C and Bryon K as the lined up in Trento, Italy in September?
Pride? Anxiety? Fear? Relief?
Well, one thing for certain, there was a challenging 144km course with a leg-sapping 3,900m of climbing ahead of them. And they were among a peloton of some of the fastest, fittest and race-hungry amateur and ex-pro riders from more than 35 countries.
“There were loads of ex pros in the race”, explained Ireland’s Gareth. “Many on the cusp of the pro ranks, top club riders and lots of riders who have this kind of elevation on their doorstep.”
And Team GB’s Lewis agreed: “The calibre of the riders right through the age groups was incredible, with an insanely fast start. By example, I had a normalised power of 408w for the first 7 minutes”. And for those of you not geekily endowed, that’s a lot of power for a long time – and there was only another 140km to go.
“I knew I had to ride it ay my pace after the crazy start,” admitted South Africa’s Bryon. “We then hit the first serious climb and I felt a bit grim with stomach cramps, but a third of the way up the first climb I settled in.”
It was tough going for Lewis too; “I rode strongly on the first mountain with an all-time personal best 90-minute power effort. And I was descending super well, hitting 86kmph.“But I was off the back of the group almost instantly on the climb and then was steadily passed by riders from the next age group for the rest of the ride.”
A similar fate befell Gareth: “It was a ridiculously fast start, with the first flat 10km averaging 47kmh. I went off a bit quick, held 299 watts for 1hr 17mins to complete the first climb.
“I probably should have held back a bit early as for the rest of the climbing I found it difficult to settle into anything less without seemingly feeling I was going backwards.
”Meanwhile Bryon’s tactic of riding within himself paid dividends: “I managed to conserve some energy for the second and third mountains.
“Because I didn’t really have any experience racing climbs of that length, I wasn’t sure how my body and legs would respond. I never did anything crazy and just rode consistently around my lower sweet spot.
”The climbs came one after the other. “I just couldn’t believe the speed of everyone”, said Byron, “I had cramps almost throughout the race”, explained Gareth, “there were times when I thought I wouldn’t finish”, admitted Lewis.
But finish they did, taking between five an six hours to complete the World Championship course.
Think about that. They had just finished the World Championships!
And despite the pain there was pure joy too. “Although it was a brutal day out, it definitely exceeded all my expectations,” explained Lewis.
“The only disappointing thing for me is that I won’t be able to race the course again in the near future,” said Byron. “It was an amazing route and I’d definitely want another crack at it.
”Gareth reflected, “I’m happy with my performance. The scenery was unlike anything else, truly breathtaking.
“Some of the best amateur riders were there and I was humbled to be riding with them. To feel I was flying though it all on a racing bicycle will be something I will never forget.”
And that of course, sums it all up. Whether it’s riding the World Championships in Trentino-Alto or pootling in the Surrey Hills on a lovely Forge F2 group, it all about the pleasure of riding the bike.
Molto bene Gareth, Byron and Lewis. We think the Worlds of you.