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ATAC Blog

Race Report: Derny Racing!

Hamish Morrin

Guest post by ATAC member Peter Hope.

The following is a race report from earlier in May at the Geleen outdoor Velodrome, in Laandgraf, which took place on May 3rd.

A phone call from my mate Tjarco came in in April. “Hey dude. There is a derny race. You are coming. I have told them. It’s all arranged”. Me: “ah, but, well, um, it’s, well, huh?”  Tjarco: “Ok good, then you’re in”. Click.

I wasn’t gonna be coerced, though. Oh no. If I was gonna race, then so too was some other newbie sucker. So, another phone call: “Yo, Julio. Guess what, we’ve been invited to race in a super prestigious derny race. Once in a life time. You can’t say no. It’s all sorted”. Notice how I didn’t lie once in any of that?! 

Derny racing is to cycling as curling is to winter sports. And to extend the dubious analogy beyond what’s right or reasonable, the derny is the curling broom and the rider is the stone. A stone to be moved, manipulated, goaded, encouraged, but, mostly, smashed at the business end of the race.

And so, as two newbies to this ancient and curious art form of racing, Iglesias, aka Julio, and myself set off for an experience of wonderment on the outdoor concrete velodrome.

Deny 2.jpeg

We do the first race. An ‘exhibition’, to showcase the sport and to show off the main draw card for the day – Tour de France yellow jersey holder and veteran racer, Gert Jacobs. We line up with our allocated derny rider and the rules of the race are set out. Which were simple. The ‘chief’ derny rider says, “ok. This is fixed. Gert wins. He is second (pointing at me), and he continues on, proceeding to dictate the placings. And off we go. It’s fun. Fast. Terrifying. And the race is run. Sure enough. Gert wins and I get a deserved second place. I was panting and everything.

As we warm down I try to make friends with my derny rider. After all, I might get him again in the serious racing and I want to bond. I make some small talk. I ask him for feedback and pointers. “The good riders rub the fender” he says, referring to the rear fender of the derny covering the tyre and pointing at the spot where the paint has been rubbed down to the polished metal. “You have some work to do”. And with that, the classic Dutch coaching session was over.

And then it was on to the serious stuff. Tjarco wins his heat, by a country mile. An effortless elixir of high cadence pedaling, 2-stroke derny drone and carbon race rims rejoicing at the 55km/hr pace.

I’m in the next heat. Not so great. I get the derny rider who seems totally unhappy to be there. Or is it that she’s just unhappy she got me? Either way, we sit at the back of the pack, lap after lap, like shy kids at the school dance. I get frustrated. I yell out “Hup! Hup!” And motion with my head to go. Giddy up! She opens the gas. And drops me. Instantly. She looks back. A disdainful display of disappointment. I lasted 30 seconds. She eases the throttle back until I’m on to the fender. We eventually whimper home in 5th place. Pathetic. I feel a little bit hard done by. She was hardly a great first date.

Next up was the little train which could. New bike, new wheels, new helmet (5 watts saved right there baby!) — a veritable red but very aero peacock preening his feathers — or should I say skin suit? Julio seemed to take to this most curious and archaic form of racing like a 6 year old to a games console. And he makes it. Into the top 4 to battle it out in one of the finals.

Lap after lap the heats are run and then it’s to the finals. Inexplicably, I somehow get a finals birth. But it was rather forgetful. Another fifth. What a disappointment.

Tjarco goes into the ‘A’ final. The competition is tough, the racing leans are hotly contested. He goes to the front. His strategy is simple. “Let them chase and then they die”. It seems to be working, but in the last two laps a pretender appears. He comes around Tjarco like a slow mo knockout punch and takes it by half a bike length on the line. Tjarco’s pissed. That was not the plan. But second is nothing to scoff at in this bizarre world.

And then it’s to the last final for the day and our very own Julio is lined up. Off they go. He sits at the back for a bit, then moves mid pack. And then when the business gets started there he is, breaking out the front of the pack. He’s in the clear. We count down the laps and there he is, still out front as the bell tolls for the final assault. But wait. Some geezer is coming, and fast. His derny rider is buzzing the 98cc engine for all it’s worth. It’s close! It’s close. But, YES! Julio by a length. He’s a winner! He’s all smiles as I collect the money from the old fellas in the beer tent (only kidding, but he was long odds and would have paid out handsomely).

The champagne and podiums done, it’s a long drive back to ‘Dam with the flowers.

Post Script:
Julio has always professed road racing his wife and cyclocross his mistress… But I suspect there’s a new pretty thang attracting his attention now. The CX bike has been racked for the summer. Maybe forever? There is a another, stranger, more curious and vintage glint in the eye.

Race Report: Rockin’ It in Rapperswil

Hamish Morrin

Guest post by ATAC member Korneel Wever

After a rainy course recce in Roth, Monica and I arrived in a rainy Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland for the 70.3 Ironman event. The current weather and the weather of the previous editions did not predict great circumstances.

As I rode in Germany to prep for the full Ironman distance, I wasn’t too keen on riding the bike course given the weather. Our Swiss and Australian friends were, though, and did one 45K lap of the course. “Tougher than expected” was the general consensus, “but doable”. The 600 meters of climbing I expected turned out to be 1067m, resulting in a slightly nervous Dutchie.

Luckily the weather changed for the better and we had a sunny Saturday. Monica and I went to the start area for an 8am for a race-start-simulation-swim, but without the pushing, pulling and punching. We found some navigational points and had the same sun and weather conditions as the next morning. The water was 16.6 degrees, fine for a Dutchman, but the Monica and Janine didn’t really agree. After the swim Monica and Janine did a bike and run and I just rode my bike for a last technical check.

Race Sunday started at 7:55 on the Swiss dot. The Pro’s took off and a hasty five minutes later Monica and Janine were up. Janine had to rush from transition to the start line as she had forgotten her computer. This was apparently a good warm up as she swam a 35:36. My time came at the stroke of 8:20 as I took off for the 1900 meters of swimming. After about 14 minutes another athlete bumped into my Garmin – exactly on the lap button which I was only to press as I entered transition. This meant my watch now thought I was in transition to the bike. It didn’t bother me that much though. My swim wasn’t going greatly and a watch to remind me of it wouldn’t help either. After 40 minutes (4 slower than my goal) I came out of the water. T1 went as planned and on I went to the bike.

The ride was smooth. My goal was to have a decent bike; the focus of my race was my run. So the first lap I took it semi-easy. I wasn’t going to blow my legs on the climbs and in case I felt strong, I could do that on the second lap. After a tough Cat4 and a Cat3 climb, the descent went smoothly. I confidently zipped by some other athletes and at times got up to 70k per hour. On the flat back into town I rolled my shoulders and neck as I saw Janine and Monica had started lap number two. A quick estimate told me they were still about 20 minutes ahead. So their bike splits were going well, at least as good as mine. Later I learned Monica passed Janine going up, only for Janine to retake her position going down. But they were close (3:03 for Janine and 3:02 for Monica). On I went to lap number two. By this time my lower back started to hurt, the new TT bike apparently requires some more core training. I held back and sat up a bit more but finished the second lap for a total time of 2:50:25, roughly ten minutes faster than what I had in mind.

Then on to the run. My T2 went fast. In 1:55 I was in and out of transition and went to press my Garmin lap button to traverse into the run. However, my Garmin was not one my wrist. I had left it on the bike! Acks! “Just focus on the run”, I thought, as my lower back was now aching badly. But I knew the pain should only be temporary. I never have back issues on my runs. “Don’t give up, what if the others see you!”, I told myself, as I thought back to the numerous laps in Westerpark and the Brettenpad, and the pace I knew I could hold easily. I slowed down a bit and started feeling a lot better. My back pain was slowly subsiding and my pace picked up. I kept my eyes open for Janine and Monica but despite quite some overlap I did not see them. By now the temperature had risen to about 20 degrees and rehydration became important too. A last minute tip of my mate Daniel was to walk the aid-stations. I decided to do so and this helped me a lot. It gave me goals and boundaries for walking to relieve my back, and time to get the essential water and nutrients in. After the first 10.5K lap I asked a spectator for the time. “EINS” – He yelled. It was 1pm. “I’m five hours and forty minutes in, that should but me at six and a half hour finish”, I thought, but something told me that couldn’t be right. After the toughest ten minutes of math I was certain. I was at four hours and forty minutes. That was great! I could make a five-thirty finish! As I started counting down the kilometers, my euphoria grew and grew. The second time up the 50 steps of the ‘stairway to heaven’ went smoothly. I shot by the other athletes who reverted to walking it. Faster! Stronger! I came on to the home stretch. I couldn’t see a clock! Just push! As the commentator saw my sprint and yelled out my name I crossed the finish line. I had no clue of my time. Maybe a five-thirty, maybe not, the live timing website was slow, if only I had my Garmin…

I walked into the Athletes arena where a surprised Monica greeted me: “Woah?! You finished already?! That’s amazing, what is your time?” – “I don’t know…” I replied. Monica and Janine pulled great times with 5:13 and 5:27 respectively.

A second surprise in the athletes’ arena was running into another ATACer, Florian. Florian was actually in Switzerland for a training weekend in prep for the full Ironman later in the year. Despite some tough climbs, and a couple of beers, in his legs, he entered Rapperswil on a whim and finished faster than all of us in 4:35.

After a few hours the website had finally updated. 5:30:40! I broke my 70.3 PB by about 50 minutes and ran the half marathon in a PB as well!

We all gathered on the town square for some well deserved celebratory ice cream.