Thursday, July 22, 2010

2010 German National Championships - Bad Salzdetfurth, Germany

11th place in the Germany Championships, 2 places down from last year and about the same percentage off the winning time as last year. Am I happy with that? Hmm, not really. I had hoped to improve, get an 8th place, or at the very least I had hoped to be in the top 10 again. But it wasn't to be. I went into the race mentally unprepared. Traveling around Europe each of the 3 weekends beforehand for racing and college didn't help either. It also didn't help that the race was on Saturday and not on Sunday as in previous years. I only found that out shortly a few days before the race, long after I had booked the flights, so that I arrived on Friday evening with the race on Saturday afternoon. There was practically no time to get adjusted to the German heat (35 degrees on Friday), but at least on race day it was a little more bearable. The afternoon start time (4pm) made it hard to time the eating correctly too. I also let myself intimidate by all the big racers who arrive in their big personalized vans with a big tent put up in a special "star" area, with their entourage of supporters - masseur, mechanic and coach, parents, friends and family, their warm-up bike on a turbo and giving out autograph cards to anyone who asks. I arrived by myself, in my rental car, after a flight and a long drive, building up my bike myself and trying to sort out my rubbing brake pads using my tiny multi-tool, running around until a few hours before the race in the hope to find somebody I know that could do my bottles, warming up on a deserted road at one end of the village, being held up by some other star's photoshoot on my way to the start line. At the start line I am trying to find Andy, Elisabeth Brandau's coach, who had agreed to do my bottles, to give him my car keys.

When the race was off our "neutral" start turns out to be a scramble for positions. My head is not in the race and I find it hard to push myself. I am already falling back in my first lap. It takes me about 3 out of the 6 laps and Mona Eiberweiser falling back into my sight for me to finally switch on racing mode. Every lap I can see a few people ahead of me on the long climb. Finally I overtake Mona in the 4th lap. My racing head is finally screwed on and I focus on the next person ahead of me - Nadine Rieder. I come close to her on the climb in the 5th lap and know I can get her in the last lap. But when I come through the feedzone at the start of the last lap, my feedzone person had left with all my bottles. I was completely dehydrated in the hot weather and needed that last bottle more than ever. On the last climb I came really close to Nadine, but couldn't close the distance before she went into the long descent and out of my sight.

So, I got 20 UCI points out of this race. Was it worth the expense (~500Euro), time (4days) and effort involved? Not in this instance. Maybe I'll skip the national champs next year and do something fun, like riding around the Alps, Sauser-like. Now at least there is a bit of a breather till the next race, so there will be less drills and more fun in my spins.

Full results are available on datasport.

P.S. The course by the way was great. It was mostly dry, having dried up again after some earlier rain. I really liked it and would ride it again out of competition - some of the climbs were fairly steep, but most of them were manageable. The downhills were not overly technical, but good fun - bermy with a few little drops. We even came down the hill into a resident's backyard, with the course going through his house and out the front door! There was also lots of obstacles - several bridges and humps and steps that added to the fun. In Germany the courses tend to go straight through a village, so loads of the locals were out in the sun enjoying a beer and cheering you on. It also helped that they print your first name on the race numbers - feels like you've got your own fan-club and I have to say that the German spectators were absolutely fantastic, cheering on everybody on the course.

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