Leave No Gentleman Behind – Rapha Gent’s Race
written by: Stefan Schott
“The Rapha Gentlemen’s Race is a team race that emphasises the beauty and discovery of roads and camaraderie between the riders. Twenty four teams of six riders will depart ttt-style, at a stagger. Teams must ride as six the full distance of the route.” – Rapha –
We started as team Gruppetto Berlin. The team riders Max and I were riding the brand new 8bar KRONPRINZ prototypes.
Gruppetto Berlin – Matthias, Stefan, Maxe, Max, Jens, Florian
The route forecast said that there will be some gravel and some dirt roads. So we were all a bit scared about getting flats and if we are using the right tires. At this time we never thought about what happened later on…
It was a sunny Saturday morning when we arrived at the “Kugler Alm” which was the start for the race.
Each team started with a 3:00min gap to the next one and our starting time was 9:15h. As the start came closer we got all a bit nervous. Do we have the right pressure in our tires? Will we find the route with our GPS? Will we catch up with some groups or do other groups catch us?
After the start all excitement was gone and we had a lot of fun on the first 80km. It was a mix of nice quiet roads, gravel, dirt roads and climbs.
But then there was the big climb… 6km uphill. After 4km I heard a loud noise and saw that Max stopped.
As we got back to him we saw that his rear derailleur was broken. His first words were: “That’s why I normally ride fixed gear.” After trying to bend it back in the right position and not getting it even close to work again we thought that the only option would be to run it Singlespeed. After shortening the chain to the right/best length we started again. Unfortunately Max freehub broke 5km later because the chain tension was too hard and we couldn’t change the horizontal position of his wheel.
Now we got two options:
Option A) Max waits for the broom wagon and we continue with five riders
Option B) We push Max all together as a team for nearly another 100km
It didn’t take us long until we had made our decision… It was a Gentlemen’s Race. So the rules said we need to get all six guys over the finish line!
After trying various techniques from track style changeover to pulling Max on his arms we found out that it is the best if we have three guys riding in the wind, Max directly behind them and the two other guys pushing him from behind…
It was really hard and the whole team was suffering because there was actually no time to recover. The last 30km felt like forever and we were all relieved when we arrived at “Kugler Alm”.
Overall it was a great journey and experience for the team.
“It is much more important to bring back all your mates then winning a bike race!!!”
PS: We had NO flat tire at all…