As anticipated the course was the same as last year, which put me in a bad place mentally. I was already counting myself out of the race before it even started.
On the bright side the weather was nice! The sun was out and the course was drying, which was nice because it was slick as peanut butter on glass for the first couple of days of training.
Albstadt was providing us with some nice country side riding, which was nice because the course was only a 4.2k loop with only one technical feature worth looking at. To give you an idea of how challenging the course was, technically, Howard Grott’s team mate Simon Andreassen rode the course on the specialized slick tires they have. It is basically at 1.5 rode tire, absolutely no grip what so ever.
The obligatory castle pic during an evening spin. Russell and I made it a point to come back to this hillside, with Russell’s bad ass camera, after being disappointed with the pictures from our iPhones…
Any who… The whole week we were keeping ourselves amused by watching the Giro, Rolland Garros, and I started reading “Under the Banner Of Heaven”, which was quite literally blowing my mind! Russell and I were also going on a good number of evening spins to pass some time in the late afternoon and get the legs moving a bit before dinner.
Saturday we spent the morning riding the course and doing some openers to get ready for race day.
Sunday came and I was really excited to race even though I had pretty low expectations. The previous year I was pulled 2 laps down and I knew the only way to better that was to have a good first lap and come through in the low 60’s or only about 1min off the pace of the leaders. Since I was mentally preparing to be pulled, my plan was to go out as hard as possible and hope to have a good start then try to hold on for the rest of the race.
I was called up 94 so I had my work cut out for me, as Russell whose number was 78 but his rear wheel was overlapping my front once the field compressed on the line before the start.
Bang! The 1.5min small flat loop at the bottom of the course did nothing to string the field out before sending us into the first bit of single track, which was around 30% grade. This is where the first bottle neck happened and coincidentally the first running section, or rather walking and bumping into angry Euro’s shouting obscenities that I couldn’t understand. At least no one tried to run out of the tape and up the hill side this year.
About 2min after that walking section we hit the top of the first climb and the only technical feature on course. Thus, we got off our bikes again and formed a nice orderly line to the top of the downhill at which point we got back on, either choosing the “A” or “B” line, and went on our way. Creeping down the slippery rocks bumping into rear wheels and elbows.
All in all after the first lap I came through over 2.5 min down on the leaders. With the laps being less than 11:15min, this basically meant I was doomed unless I could bring back time on the leaders, which was a little out of my reach considering the leaders were World Champs, Olympic Champs, etc.
After the first lap I was mentally out of the race. My motivation was drained and I was simply just riding until I was pulled, which was 3 laps down this year. I new PR for me. I did manage to finish inside the top 100 though…. At 99.
I know that write up was a bit depressing and I wrote it wearing my pouty pants but I am sorry. The Albstadt course is absolutely stupid unless you start inside the top 50. I will tip my hat to Russell who managed to only get pulled 1 lap down. He came through the first lap in 63rd or so and hung on as long as he could. Only 52 riders finished on the lead lap…
The silver lining… We packed up and headed back to America where I was more than excited to go camping with Russell and Sofia, as well as reunite with Emily who is fresh off of the Transylvania Epic Stage race.
Tuesday afternoon we loaded up the cars and headed west into the mountains, to the Crags Campground just south of divide.
We camped out Tuesday night, made some dinner and even scrambled up a steep hillside to a unplanned peak and snapped some photos of the southwest side of Pikes Peak in all its, snowy, majesty.
Wednesday morning we woke up, made breakfast, and a fire, then headed off to hike to the Crags.
The hike was only 5.5mi round trip and very mellow but that is just what we needed.
No need to jump off a plane and trash ourselves. Plus, who can complain about an easy hike with views like this!
After hiking we loaded up and headed back into town for some lunch at the Everest Nepal Restaurant (Indian Cuisine) for the all you can eat lunch buffet. Needless, to say my last meal of the day was at 2pm.
Now it’s back on the grind! Off to the OTC this morning for some supplemental O2 intervals with Jim Lehman from CTS. It is time to get fit ya’ll. The nationals course profile was posted and my motto from now until mid July is “weight down, watts up!”