Monday, September 22, 2008

DAY 7 – Everyone’s a Teammate!

On the start line Leah said she wanted me to cross the finish line with her holding hands in the air. Cool thought though I said if it works out, great!
The race started with a decent pace. Whoever was at the front broke the headwind for all.

The first climb was a gradual average grade of 5%. I was near the front of the pack with Leah. Then a 14% grade snuck in there and some of us drifted back. Our own little pack formed and we continued to climb at a hard comfortable pace.

Soon our small group caught the front group. Again, the pace went hard up a steeper section. I was breathing so hard I was amazed a lung didn’t burst. I was the last one in our group up the crest though was still in contact with the pack for the descent. Great - except I was cross-eyed from lack of oxygen and it was difficult to relax at the fast pace they swept around the sharp corners. The pace-line was too long and decelerated too much by the time I got to the corner. I had to accelerate to catch-up each time. IT HURT. The wind was strong and I soon lost the draft.

I descended on my own much more easily thru the corners. On the flat, it wasn’t long before 2 more teams caught me. We flew ahead and within a few km caught the lead group again. I didn’t have long to rest before the group took off again. The small group we formed had Leah and myself in it and six other guys. It was a great pace and perfect size group.

I got caught up in the paceline and pulled to the front. Leah helped get the 6 guys to do the paceline and we kept back of them with me behind her. I needed all the rest I could get. We all stayed together thru narrow roads of the small villages. Some areas looked more like mountain bike trails with all the tree cover over us.

The final climb of the day had me working harder than ever in spots before the pace would settle. We had to descend 1 km on hard-packed gravel and then ascend. Training on the 5-km gravel section near Predator Ridge in Kelowna was perfect for this. The final climb had Leah take off with another guy, and a handful of us scattered.

My new chain and cassette made the bike feel brand new. I still managed to drop my chain past the small chain ring with a quick bad shift. Twice I had to stop to manually put my chain back on, doh.

Meanwhile, I crested the last climb with some riders that just caught up. Bummer that they were poor descenders. I speedily caught up to one guy that braked at the last minute around a sharp corner which had me abruptly brake to avoid hitting him. My whole bike skidded out and there was ample opportunity to crash… though I let go of the brakes and all was ok. Must be my mtnbike skill as I wasn’t even freaked out though it must have been scary for anyone behind me.

Again it was difficult to keep on anyone’s wheel with the strong wind. With 4 km to go, the 1st place mixed team came whooshing by. This was their hometown so they knew every corner on the high speed descent. I jumped into their group and we stormed to Velden city center.

After a fast pace thru town amongst chaotic moving traffic, we finished at the edge of the lake. Many racers hung out a long time on the wooden docks eating post-race food. A lot of racers jumped in the lake or got thrown in.
I hung out with Leah and her mom for post-race by the water. Later, Team Tanner and I sat and soaked up the warm sun on the dock. We were happy to just sit.

Earlier I took the opportunity at the Scott Bike weigh-in for the lightest bike/racer combo. I removed everything I could from my bike. My clothes were skimmed down to jersey, shorts, helmet and shoes with insoles removed. I just came back from the WC so was ready for the weigh-in at 55.7 kg. Without the bike 48.2 kg (dehydrated!). The bike alone was 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs). Another woman won at 53.9 kg with bike, wow! The heaviest guy with bike was 113 kg!!

When we finally made a move to search out where Team Tanner needed to drop off their bikes to get shipped back to the race-start in Kirchberg and where I’d find my bike bag sent from the start to here. The race organization was just having my bike bag delivered to my hotel. I was able to stop the van and hop in with my bike. I was driven to where my gear bag had already been delivered to the hotel, picked up my gear bag, said sorry but thanks to the owner, and got dropped off at the place where all the other Cdn gals were staying.

Meanwhile, Erin and Sandra dropped off their bikes for the journey back then made the long walk to the hotel in their socks. They each carried a plastic bag with their extra clothes and bike shoes in it. They were pretty tuckered when they got to the hotel. They had to walk thru the main area of town like that. I’m amazed no-one gave them some coins!

Tonight’s last pasta party was awesome – no pasta! We had grilled sausages and pork with lots of choices of salads and baked potatoes.

Everyone got their awards and finishers jerseys. Leah's Mom and I sat back while the Cdn girls got their leaders jerseys.
We took our last chance to meet with a lot of racers. One rider sat by me during dinner and we chatted for quite awhile. When we exchanged email addresses I asked his team number and it was 51! I had wanted to thank and meet #51 since he helped me in the race yet didn’t know what he looked like. I was thrilled Lutz was him! This Tour was a very social bunch. A smaller group of racers meant a greater opportunity to meet the racers. The mix of teams with individual racers went well with all working together. With more individual racers, the incentive was there to be more open to meet others. More friendships formed all around.

Quite a few beers were dranken at our table!

Marg & 2nd place Mixed Team - Annika & Joachim
Uta & Günter who met on a TA Team in 2005 and are now married with kids

No comments: