Tuesday, September 16, 2008

DAY 3 – A fun rollercoaster day…

Race temp at the start 8C and slightly overcast – typical Alberta weather before I left for Austria. Most everyone overdressed today still pensive about the last two days. At the last minute on the line, I ran over to Greg and gave him my plastic rain jacket and headband.

I dressed almost perfectly for today’s weather donning shortsleeve base layer, jersey, Jeantex windjacket, arm warmers, shorts with pockets, knee warmers. Overkill were the long wool socks. I usually put Vaseline on my exposed shins. Didn’t have any so I used the Coconut Oil I brought as an added food supplement (to fatten me up). Nice layer for warmth and bonus with that extra coconut smell!

I broke out the pristine white SIDI carbon shoes though they were hidden away underneath the Pearl Izumi booties. The shoes were awesome… totally comfortable on the climbs and whole race. I went a smidgeon too large in size when I ordered them. Found I had a good fit if I cinched them up with my foot further forward, otherwise a little movement only when walking.

4-km neutral start through the town then, boom, we hit the wall of 16% ugliness. Off Leah went and the women on two mixed teams and a whole bunch of men. Finally, racers stopped passing me and I was settled amongst a core group of my pace of climbers. I relaxed and kept my heartrate low. We had two of this wall climbs within the first 20-km.

Team 89 was awesome to follow. After the climbs we had a shockingly fast descent with sections of bombing straight roads. I was too scared to look down to see my max speed (was 80 kph) as my bike was close to speed wobbles if I didn’t hold her steady. A flat section had our group grow to about 10 riders.

Next climb was a good Canadian highway grade of 7% average. My group was a little slow. I jumped to catch up to a solo rider 100 metres ahead. He had my same pace. Once we hit the descent, I had to work hard and stay within a foot of his draft due to the wind and my 50x12 gearing. I got gapped by another foot and sadly watched him drift away.

The next pack soon caught me that had 3 strong Italian guys from “Team Paola Pezzo”. They got the guys rolling fast together. The road was gently descending, swooping around corners with ups and downs. It was like my favourite kind of mountain bike course with a lot of action. I was confident in the Italians fast cornering and laughed when we hit a sharp curve and they all hollered “whoaaaa” in unison. It was at a fartlek pace whenever we had a steep roller climb ahead of us. I was working hard in spots to just latch onto them before the next descent (though loved it!)

On one twisty corner we came smack into a man herding his cows down the road. Inevitable for this to happen somewhere on these small roads, so we squeezed through the cows and continued on.

I caught bits of the scenic villages we swooped through. It was the most fun road I’ve ridden in a long time. I was pleased with my confident cornering thinking how much easier it was on dry pavement versus the wet Day 1.

After the last wicked twisty descent, we had 25-km of mostly flat headwind road to Tropolach. The pack worked mostly together with a few lulls. We had around 20 riders cross the finish together.

Excitement at the pasta party with the Cdn women’s team working their way into the Leader’s Jersey.

photo - Canadian leaders jersey wearers on right
I stayed at the race hotel called Cube-Nassfeld. It is a huge concrete building with the rooms all little cubes designed for athletics. My room was long and narrow with 4 bunk beds and a long skinny shelve the whole length of the room. The front entrance way was a huge gear room for skis/bikes whatever. The gear room was warm for drying. It was great to shuffle all my gear the whole length of the shelve. When I heard there were washers I was the first one to use them. After wearing different combinations of all the scant few warm clothes I brought, I was very happy to have clean clothes!
photos - The Cube - gear room, bunks, shelves

Pasta party dinner – best so far with “roasted chickens”!! It was fun sharing stories of the day with the Cdn gals. Leah wanted me to add into the blog how I carry a plastic container with me to the pasta dinner to take leftovers for lunch the next day. This is a trick I learned from Erik’s La Ruta tips.

Once the race ends in the early afternoon, I have my recovery drink and nibble on the previous night’s leftovers. Venture off for a massage with the amazing Michael who I’ve seen at this race the last few years. Then shuffle gear in prep for the next day. I attempt to get online though the internet access has been limited in the ski towns. The race organization is working mostly by air-card. I must look into one of those things.

The awards ceremony is not as extravagant as it has been in the past with the music and flowers. Real quick, get the teams up there and individuals then on with Uli’s pre-race 3-D satellite course description and photos of the day. Oh yeah, each night the talks are TOTALLY in German, nadda English. As per request, Uli has a small private briefing with the small group of English speaking racers… after 1 hour of pure German talk. Oh well, we get to ask him direct specific questions about the course.
For the most part, I am having a relaxing time with super training in the middle. With 1/3 of the racers solo athletes, there is more openness to communication amongst racers.
Day 4 is a super tough day with 3700 metres :0 of ascent in 144-km. Most of the wicked climbs are at the end of the day. Expected to be at least a 6-hour day. Weather will be a little warmer, fall temps. Looks like fun on the 3D satellite map!

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