In my books, any excuse – be it the weather, food, sightseeing, you name it – is good enough to visit the Catalan capital Barcelona. And participating in the Brompton World Championships turned out to be a mighty fine excuse, ‘cause that’s exactly what I did last Saturday!
I’d taken 4 days out of my fairly busy schedule to visit one of my favorite cities for a ‘Bike ‘n Brompton’ themed city trip, and man did I enjoy it! There’s more follow-up posts to be expected, but in this one, I’ll mainly focus on the Brompton World Championship that took place on the F1 track of Montmeló, some 30 kilometers out of the city centre.
Upon arrival in Barcelona city, the first thing I did was unpack my bike, screwed on the left clipless pedal, both hinge clamps and started pedaling towards the nearby Brompton Junction where I was meeting the lovely Valeria Lopes for a little chitchat. As it turned out, Valeria was going to ride a couple of laps on the F1 circuit with her Brompton buddies later that evening, yours truly was kindly invited to tag along. Getting to know the track sure was a welcome surprise. It allowed me to see how well (or bad) I did on the inclines, how fast I could go on the downhill parts, and how to cut those corners. ‘Cause in the end, it’s practice that makes perfect, no? A fun end of the day with likeminded people it was.
Have I told you that I really love to cycle in cities? Some people hate the heavy traffic in busy cities, but somehow it doesn’t affect me. I just love to cycle the streets, cars or no cars. So that’s what I did on Friday after a brief breakfast meeting with Koos Kroon, organizer of the BWC Barcelona. I cycled all the way up to Parc Guell, downhilled my way through traffic towards the beach where I had lunch (ceasar salad and a bloody mary). At the moment itself it seemed to be a great idea to cycle up Montjuic too – what a steep climb that was – a day later my legs definitely regretted that spur of the moment climbing session. My advice to all occasional racers: let your legs rest a day before the competition.
Saturday, D day! I woke up early to catch a train to Montmeló, an easy connection from the stop at Plaça de Catalunya. Upon arrival at the station of this sleepy village, a bunch of people with retro bikes got off the train and made their way to the Bicircuit festival. I secured myself a spot in the back of the peloton, making my way to the front every now and then to surprise my newly made, big wheeled compadres.
My advice to all occasional racers: let your legs rest a day before the competition.
At the circuit I registered myself and was pretty chuffed with the starting position n°50 that was given to me. I suited up, made a bit of small talk here and there, hydrated properly and counted the minutes until the mad Le Mans style dash towards the bikes.
I think I could not have hoped for a better start, since I got my bike rolling within seconds. I passed quite a few people left and right and before the first climb, I found myself in the lead group. Each climb I had to give the top riders a couple of meters, but when descending, I always managed to catch up. At least until the dreaded chicane which I definitely took on way to fast. As a result I went off track, lost momentum and more important, my position in the lead group. From that point on, it was me against the wind until I got company of three other riders. Two of them I had to let go on the final climb (lap 3), but I managed to drop the third guy myself. Unfortunately no sprint, something I was hoping for.
My aim for this competition was to secure a spot within the top 40 riders, and I finished 19th. Mission accomplished I would say! I rode an average of 30,38 km/h and topped at 57,2 km/h. Needless to say I was absolutely knackered when crossing the finish line.
Riding on a Formule 1 track with your bike is something I can highly recommend. It’s fast, it’s cool, it’s grand and it’s definitely something you don’t do everyday. If you’re interested in racing a F1 circuit with name and fame, the BWC Championship in Italy might just be the thing for you. Does Monza ring a bell? I for one am considering the trip.