Friday, September 19, 2008

DAY 6 – Best All’Round Day

A cool 4C start with a neutralized descent to 26-km. We are getting very used to riding in these cool temps though I’d never wear as little as I have on at home in these temps. We had to go down quite abit of elevation and cross three sets of train tracks. Fortunately the Race Director’s car lead the neutral start at a wickedly fast pace. It was a feat to breathe deep and stay warm. Once we crossed the 3rd set of tracks, the group went a good pace up the gradual climb. It was perfect for me to hang with the lead group. (TA photo - Marg, standing of course on the RHS at the back with the neon orange jersey under a white jacket)Once we hit the first steeper grades, I dropped off the pace as did some of the bigger boys including my favourite three Italian guys from Team Paola Pezzo. I knew if I could hang onto their steady pace I’d have good company on the descent. (TA Photo - Marg just behind Team Paola Pezzo in blue)

Soon we hit the last 3-km of the climb where the grades turned super ugly at 11-18%. I sadly dropped off the pace of my Italian group. The leftover snow from earlier in the week made the mountain view outstanding. Up ahead I could see the final few curves with 100 metres elevation to climb yet. This gave me a surge of energy. I put my head down and just worked the final stretch and just caught up to the Italians before the crest. The solo Italian guy asked me if I just climbed all that in my 53. I was out-of-breath and it took me a moment to understand what he was asking. I then mistakenly said “no, my 50” meaning what large chain ring I had on my bike. I was mostly climbing in the big ring though they didn’t see me when I was in my small chain ring the last steep grade of the climb. So the Italians were impressed!

All four of us descended wickedly fast with hard braking for the tight switchback corners. Towards the bottom of the descent, I heard some foreign noise. I looked down and thought I dtopped my chain off the chainrings then realized I had NO chain! I stopped and dismounted and saw the chain dangling on the rear derailleur.

I saw a man walking and asked for assistance. I just needed someone there as I was breathing hard and shakey. He kindly helped hold my bike as I got out a spare chain link. We both clumbsily worked at fixing my chain when half of the link dropped into the dirt. We spent the next few minutes looking for it. Whoosh… a lot of riders go by.

Finally we found the link. I assembled it. Asked the man if he was with the race. He said “no, just on a walk”. I gave him a hug and went on my way. Next group was my original crowd I had been hanging with… the 2nd place mixed team and Team 89. We flew down the rest of the descent, me a little pensive with the chain.

With only 4-km to go, my chain released again. I stopped and almost thought I was doomed to fix it and might have to “run it in”! Calmly, I coaxed the link back together. Jumped on my bike to another mixed team I hadn’t ridden with yet. A woman that did Tour-Transalp in 2005 with an unknown guy for a partner. They fell in love and have since had two kids! Quite a TA story.

Soon a small group of fast guys swooped us up and took us to the finish in Murau. The sun is out and it is beautifully warm. Made it nice to socialize at the race finish.

I am super pleased with my day. I made the climb up strongly and fixed my own mechanical twice! All in all, if I had finished with the Italians I would have been 3-minutes behind Leah today. The Swiss woman Sandra in 3rd place almost caught up to me with finishing 2-min back. (I found out she lives in Switzerland near where the famous Einsidein -Iron Bike- mountain bike race starts. That race is Sep 28… hmmm…. possibilities.)

I only lost 8-minutes with fixing my chain which was a good lesson for me for another time. I again did not bring a chain tool with me. I fortunately had the spare link and that was all I needed this time. I have been carrying a tiny Crankbrothers pump with me in case of a 2nd flat. I have one CO2 cartridge with me. I thought that was a step up in gear for me!

Murau has a historical town in its city centre. I could see the old rock wall around part of it when I biked to my hotel. Tough to pre-book accom in Murau and I ended up with a crazy nice 4-star hotel. I’m writing this as I’m sitting in my clean bathrobe on the balcony in the sun with the mountain view! It’s rare I get this opp.

Leah is still storming up the front. Team Tanner were excited to finish well and have a good day together. Erin is an awesome climber and Sandra a speedy descender. They split up at times and catch up later.

Off to check out the old town!


Darcy said...

Great to hear things are going so well at your race! Especially since your last year has been quite up and down. We're all cheering for you! I'll have more cyclocross posts and photos after two more races this weekend. It's funny how many race pictures of my daughter there are when my wife is the photographer. I'll look for you at 'cross races soon.

Marg Fedyna said...

Yeah, the pics of Julie watching you race are awesome! My favourite one - See you and your family soon! Thx for the link on your blog.