Here’s the latest race report from Gary ‘Flash’ Blesson on his latest Granfondo in Portugal. As National Duathlon Champion, Gary is an authority on competitive cycling.
“The Granfondo Premium Aldeias do xisto- here in Portugal was the best one yet… Lousa.
This was a even more special event for me as I was feeling fit and to top it off I was riding the Vaaru Octane 6-4.
The bike felt perfect and the icing on the cake was to add an extra bit of stiffness and more pedalling efficiency with the Absolute Black Premium chain rings. Also, they look good!!
With over a thousand riders my plan was to start off steady, then build up, having enough food and drink on me to not stop over the 157k event, with over 3000m of climbing.
So, did it work? Was the bike up to it?
At the start line I was the only one with a Titanium bike. So, how did that make me feel? Individual and quite cool. Everyone around me with top end carbon bikes, matt black everywhere.
I know this bike and know how stable it is and how well it climbs and can take it to the limit feeling totally confident, plus it looks good!!
At the start of the race I kept cool, stayed in a comfortable group in the first climb, then jumped to another group on the descent and pick my way through until I say with a group of four with a similar pace to me and we worked together.
After around 70k we caught a large group on a very long climb which would eventually come to a nice long descent which I could get away on.
So, after climbing for at least 10k, I attacked on my own with 200m to the top, broke away and went as hard as I could on a long winding descent cutting through the mountains around 8k, keeping the gap.
Arriving at the bottom on my own, through the feed station without stopping as I had plenty of food and water, kept the gas on climbing out and up the next range of mountains now I was on my own with around 80k in front and had to keep on it, but in control just on the edge.
Climb after climb the kilometres started to drop, with the occasional group of riders catching me over the next 50k. I jumped on their wheels for a while then let them go as they were just that little bit too quick and if I dug too deep I would pay the price later on the last few kilometres towards the finish, where valuable time and position could be lost.
With head winds to contend with while crossing the mountains, I just tried to keep as aerodynamic as possible, keep my average speed up and a high cadence up the climbs, to in turn be as physically efficient as possible.
The last 20k or so were mostly downhill so I pressed on around the beautiful sweeping roads, with an average gradient of 6%, which means you have to put the power on to maintain the gap between myself and the riders behind me. No time to relax! My legs were feeling okay and the Octane was descending like it was on rails. I felt part of the bike, faultless out of every tight bend, accelerating out of every one, constantly gaining speed.
With the end in sight now, no one in sight, but knew they weren’t far behind but knew the chasing group weren’t far behind. At this moment I was in in no mans land also with the leading group in front, not to be seen, and me in the middle.
“Keep pushing” I was telling myself, “nearly there”.
The last bit to the finish was a long drag into the town of Lousa, looked around a few times still no-one!
Finally the end was in sight, a quick loop around the square into the centre of town, then a sprint on my own to the finish line. Job done!!
Ate enough – bike felt great – done my best – happy with everything….
When I was done I waited for some friends from the UK who also took part.
Had some food then headed home to Delucci Retreat.
After a cold beer back at Delucci Retreat I get a call from the organiser to say I had got second in the Masters and 41st overall. I knew I had gone well, but not that well…
Missed the Podium which was a disappointment but Antonio, the event organiser, sent me my trophy.
Thanks to Vaaru for getting the bike spot on, it just felt perfect!!” Gary ‘Flash’ Blesson
Photo credit: Agnelo Quelhas