Jerome Ameline went to the most ridiculous lengths to prepare for Sunday’s 10-mile time trial from the Paradise Seaside Grill on South Church Street.
Absolutely every effort was worth it because the 40-year-old Frenchman’s time of 21 minutes, 06 seconds beat perennial rival Steve Abbott’s by exactly one second.
Daniel Cummings (21:11) was third and Michele “Mitch” Smith (22:22) fourth.
Ameline has won this event around 10 times in the past 13 years, but his dominance is now being severely tested by Abbott.
Ameline knew he had to prepare like never before, but work and family commitments, along with the bad weather, limited his preparations. Nevertheless, he found time to train every 12 hours.
He also worked for weeks fine-tuning an old bike to exacting standards. Knowing full well that the shape of the bike, designed to maximize its aerodynamics, would prove to be extremely painful for him, Ameline pre-booked a visit to the physiotherapist for a Monday morning session.
“All the pain and preparation is worthwhile anytime you get a first place, especially more as there was only one second between Steve and myself,” Ameline said. “If I had won with a two-minute gap, all the training done would have seem[ed] unnecessary.
“Everybody knows that you are not supposed to race with anything different from your training habits, but I had a new bike which I rode only for 10 miles on Saturday morning, and a borrowed helmet.” Ameline was supposed to try all of those new things earlier but circumstances beyond his control prevented that.
His personal best for the same course was 20:32 last May. It was the day Abbott clocked the course record with 20:30, only two seconds ahead, so Ameline felt this race was a bit of a payback.
“Steve and I are very good friends and the competition doesn’t affect our friendship,” he said. “To get faster, obviously a no-wind day is ideal and being in top shape like I was in May with training on the roads, as well as lots of spinning at Revolutions Indoor Cycling [his business].”
Ameline felt great on the first leg, along South Sound, “but the way back was hell.”
He could not keep a constant pace and kept slowing down before motivating himself again to gain speed.
He relates the strain on his back to scheduling a 20-minute weightlifting session of nonstop dead lifting. “You would know before starting that your back would suffer the following day.”
Ameline will give his modified bike more tries. Instead of focusing on getting fitter, he is trying to achieve the most aerodynamic position.
“A few tune-ups are required after this ride,” he said. “A time trial bike is not supposed to be comfortable, anyway. It is supposed to be fast.”
For cycling connoisseurs, it is a Joker made by C4 from 1995. C4 does not make bikes anymore and now specializes in paddle boards and carbon fiber fins for free divers.
Ameline bought his bike two years ago from Pedro Lopez Ramos who did not like it and, interestingly, it belonged to Ameline’s friend Laurent Weber 10 years ago, so it has done the rounds locally.
“I totally rebuilt it with spare parts and spent a good 10 hours working on it,” said Ameline. “Prior to that, I probably spent 10 hours on the Internet researching the history and potential of this bike.”
His next event will be the road race around Cost-U-Less next month organized by the cycling association.
“This is usually a sprint finish. I do not have much expectations as sprinting is not my cup of tea,” he said.