Posts Tagged ‘Trajectoires Cycles’

Red Bull Road Rage – Cycle Inn / Trajectoires Cycles rider Janos Köhler victorious in Belgium

June 10, 2010

La Redoute

La Côte de La Redoute in Aywaille, Belgium saw the opening of the Red Bull Road Rage 2010 season. This steep hill features in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, often used for the decisive move of many eventual winners with attacks coming at the steepest 22% gradient section about halfway up.

About to disappear over the edge of the 22% drop

Saturday 22 May was D-day. 80 riders turned up to test their descending skills and athleticism in the quest to become Belgium’s first Red Bull Road Rage champion. The weather was brilliant and set the atmosphere for the showdown. Sign-on ran smoothly, followed by the customary practice runs. For the first time, qualifying took place in a 4cross format, rather than the usual individual time trial. After putting in a solid run it was back down to the race paddock to wait for the results. Finally the moment of truth arrived and the news broke of the top four seeded places all being occupied by four veteran Road Rage friends: 1. Janos Köhler (Cycle Inn/Trajectoires Cycles, Ireland); 2. David Lacoste (Cantal Team Road, France); 3. Guillaume Gualandi (Cantal Team Road, France); and 4. François-Xavier Plaçais (Trajectoires Cycles, France).

Next up, the customary 4cross format knock-out rounds were held, with the top 32 qualified riders going head to head in groups of four, two riders progressing each time and the remaining two riders retiring from the race. All the top seeds had comfortable wins and progressed to the quarter final round. Again as expected the top four seeds ran in as winners of their respective heats and progressed to the last eight.

Power slide with counter lock through the chicane

The semi-final saw some drama unfold, as I punctured about a third of the way down hitting a bar of uneven road. As I came through the chicane halfway down, I could feel the back end starting to squirm and knew I would need more than just skill to reach the final. I continued to hammer down the mid-section straight towards the last corner, as the rim started to make more and more contact with the road. I brushed off a significant amount of speed approaching the last corner hoping to gently nurse my bike into the home straight. As I fought the back end around the corner, trying to stay upright, F-X Plaçais tore by me on his way to take the semi-final round victory. Little did I know that the next rider was breathing down my neck, but I had not need worry as he completely overcooked the corner and ploughed into the hay bail barriers (see below) to give me the chance I needed to clinch that last spot and qualify for the final. The other semi final saw the first top 4 seed fall, as Guillaume Gualandi was eliminated by 7/100th of a second at the hands of German ex-professional road and track racing multiple Olympian and former world champion, Christian Lademann (Wiki article Eng/De).

Fighting a punctured rear end through the last corner with crash sequence during the semi finals

The moment had arrived for the big final. The tension had risen to unparalleled levels, as we all knew there was only one chance now. The countdown kicked off: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go! The gate dropped and we tore off like thoroughbred race horses out of the box. F-X got the best start as he nosed ahead of me, using his extensive 4cross start experience. I bit down hard and pushed forward with everything I had pulling level with F-X. Around the first right hand bend neck and neck we raced. I was at an advantage sitting on his left hand side with the next bend giving me the inside line. I made it count as I pulled ahead and into the lead. The 22% chicane was upon us in no time and a sharp, quick, short engagement of the brakes brushed off just enough speed to safely negotiate it. Immediately again, it was head down and full on the power. The last bend approached with a rush. Just go for it! Full tilt, holding on for dear life right on the limit. Into the home straight, now only 150m to go. A quick flick over the shoulder informed me I had done it, with my rivals trailing 20m behind me. This was the moment I had waited for so long, as I raced towards the finish line raising my fist in victory, punching the air. I was overcome with sheer ecstasy. Behind me 2nd and 3rd place were decide by the closest of margins with Christian Lademann beating David Lacoste by 2/100th of a second! F-X who had unfortunately derailed through the chicane took 4th place having fought like a real champion until the end.  As F-X caught up with me he threw his arms around me and said “We won!!!” Indeed, this was Trajectoires Cycles best road Rage yet. I went immediately to congratulate both David and Christian on their podium places, before we were ushered up by the marshals and Red Bull organisational crew for the podium presentation. It was quite simply such a moving experience. Photo shoot and interviews followed the champagne fuelled podium celebrations.

Podium Red Bull Road Rage, Belgium: (l-r) David Lacoste (F), Janos Köhler (IRL), Christian Lademann (D), François-Xavier Plaçais (F)

Full list of results here.

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2010 Dyfi Enduro – Machynlleth, Wales

May 6, 2010

Dyfi Enduro singletrack downhill

On Wednesday evening 28 April, I received contact from my friend and regular cycling training partner, Michael McCutcheon with a call to arms to step in for his team race partner.  Due to a last-minute change of circumstances, he was unfortunately not able to make the Dyfi Enduro race scheduled for the coming Sunday. With only three days notice, no targeted training and only a 40lb free-ride/all-mountain bike to ride, this was a challenge I was not about to shy away from. At this stage I hadn’t the faintest idea of what I was letting myself in for.

Saturday morning involved a 6 a.m. start. A quick shower, followed by some breakfast shovelled down in a hurry and it was on the road to catch the 8:20 Dublin ferry to Holyhead. A four-hour train journey followed to deposit us both just outside the southern edge of Snowdonia National Park, in the sleepy village of Machynlleth. It was only few hundred yards more to the camp site from the train station, where the tent was erected upon arrival.

As part of the camp site entertainment there were two marquee tents, one housing a cinema, where 3 different bike films were running on continuous loop and a second adjoining one where delicious food and drink was served to the sound of music in the form of a Rasta DJ spinning some chilled 7″ 45 rpm reggae tunes and later in the evening some live bands. At midnight the music came to an end and the camp site gradually descended into silence as the temporary residents retired, providing the calm before the storm.

By 8 o’clock the following morning, the camp site was buzzing again, with the sort of nervous energy prominent before a big race. Both Mic and I consumed multiple breakfasts. A race debriefing was held at 10:30, after which riders commenced uptake of positions on the start grid in anticipation of the 11 o’clock start. A rolling start from the exit of the camp site ensued for the 650 competitors on the strike of the 11th hour just as planned and was led out of the village towards the hills by a team of marshals in a van and on moto-cross bikes. While I managed to start near the front, I struggled to maintain position on my 40lb Kona Coiler Deluxe and steadily started going backwards as soon as the climbing started, as riders on bikes about half the weight of mine cruised by.

The first climb was a non-stop 5km fire road drag of just over 300m ascent. 3/4 of the way up, my team partner Mic who had started much further back in the grid, passed me as he made steady progress uphill. Mic would spend the rest of the course passing competitors on his way to a formidable 61st place finish. While I slogged it out up the seemingly never-ending climbs with countless riders passing me, when the gradient reversed, I made the extra weight and stability of my freeride rig count for everything it was worth, blasting down past the very riders who had passed me not so long ago.  This pattern was to become the order of the day as it drew on into the race.

Three more monster climbs ensued, each followed by unfortunately what seemed like only very short downhills were I gave it my all, before a very welcome feed station greeted riders at about 3/5 distance, or 31km.  At this stage I could already feel the significant strain of the unaccustomed effort I was subjecting my body to, but after a short refuelling I swung back into action. I would have to crest 6 more significant climbs before I would reach the finish after a total of 53.44km including no less than 1860m of vertical ascent. Crawling up the last big climb of the day, another competitor on a single speed greeted me saying he remembered me passing him on the 2nd descent of the day. According to him, as I passed him he said he tired to jump on my back wheel and added, “but after 50 yards, realised it was a really silly idea”. It was just the sort of compliment I needed to hear at that stage, to give me that much coveted second wind as the climb dragged on mercilessly.

As the end neared, marker signs appeared trail side detailing the remaining distance, as if to encourage the tired riders on, first with 10km and then with 3km to the finish. The first 200 riders were sent on an “extra” loop which added ca. 5km to the full race distance. The remaining 450 would be sent the “short” way. As I passed the marshal taking count, I and the other riders in my group were informed we were in about 150th position – Long course for us in that case! I lost a handful more places and clawed a few back in the usual manner on the remaining up and down hills respectively. After 4h18m49s I finally cruised into the finish in 165th position, covered in mud, but elated to finally arrive at the desired destination in one piece, where I met Mic who had been waiting for about 30mins at that stage. As we stood around clapping in the next few riders including a team on a tandem, another competitor came up to me and said, “Hey, I recognise that jersey”, pointing to my Trajectoires Cylces Team jersey, “You passed me at an absolutely ridiculous speed on one of the downhills!”. This was the perfect comment that summed the day’s racing all up for me.

It was then time to make the way back to the campsite, which was still a full 10km away, but thankfully downhill for the most part. Depositing the bikes and the muddy bike gear at the tent in exchange for a towel and clean set of clothes, it was off to the leisure centre next to the camp site. £1 bought us access to what I can only describe as what felt like the best value and most appreciated shower I can remember in a long time and capped off the day’s riding in perfect fashion.

Standing beside the central social area beside the main marquee, I spotted a fellow rider just arriving back from his ride, cycling by on a Jones 3D SpaceFrame. I hurried after him across the field to catch him for a chat and geek out over his titanium bike. The simple yet unambiguous ice-breaker of “Nice bike” was employed to launch the conversation, followed by much more in-depth admiration, tech talk and titanium bike stories exchange.  A test ride was accorded me upon request and I was finally riding my dream bike for the first time. The ride has to be experienced to be believed, as it is unlike anything I have ridden before.

Finally it was time to indulge in some of the tasty food served in the main marquee. Both Mic and I enjoyed two full dinners as we attempted to replenish some of the several thousand calories consumed that day. More music and socialising with fellow riders ensued until one by one we called it a day, falling into our tents completely exhausted yet more than happy with the day’s memorable events.

Trajectoirescycles.com announce sponsorship deal for 2010

April 2, 2010

In Rengg, Switzerland, at Red Bull Road Rage 2009 with François-Xavier Plaçais of Trajectoires Cycles

In anticipation of a brand new Red Bull Road Rage season, I am delighted to share Trajectoires Cycles recently issued press release on a 2010 sponsorship deal:

Trajectoirescycles.com Snap up Irish Road Rage Downhill Ace

Trajectoires Cycles Nantes, France have agreed a sponsorship deal with the undeniably quick Irishman Janos Köhler. The deal is initially for the duration of the 2010 Red Bull Road Rage downhill road racing season which kicks off in Belgium this coming May. Trajectoires Cycles were eager to have Köhler on board after he turned heads by beating the likes of Cédric Gracia and Frédéric Moncassin as a newcomer to the international downhill road scene in 2009.

With the fastest time against the clock in Rengg, Switzerland (2nd overall) and fastest time in the wet in France (6th overall), François-Xavier Plaçais, owner and managing director of Trajectoires Cycles, believes it’s only a matter of time before Köhler graces the top step of the podium. ‘It’s great to have such amazing talent wearing our colours and we’re really happy to be able to help him in what are difficult times for new athletes finding sponsorship.’

Trajectoires Cycles shop in Nantes are France’s leading fixed wheel and single-speed retailer and are also stocked with the latest high end mountain and road bikes. As part of the deal with Köhler they will be providing all on-site parts, mechanical assistance, and local transport requirements at the Red Bull Road Rage races.