Monday, July 16, 2007

Trans-Alps 2007

THE FIRST DAY of the race began in Mittenwald, which is on the German/a Austrian border. Eric and I got there a couple of days early and stayed at a small bed and breakfast right in town. We had a seeded start, which was very lucky since there were 600 teams in the race and it is very hard to pass people for the first hour or so. Usually the stages begin at 9 am, but the first day started at 11. I should have planned for this since I had breakfast around 8 and was already hungry when the gun went off. I felt horrible! My legs were stiff from all the plane riding and sitting around, I was bonking and felt like I had no power. We ended up in 11th place the first day, way slower than we should have been.

DAY 2 started in Reith im Alpbachtal in Austria. Eric and I were staying in the trans-alps camps because we were a bit too cheap and too busy to plan ahead and reserv hotel rooms in all of the towns before the race. The camps are usually very crowded with people packed like sardines on the floor of gyms, parking garages, or giant tents. Staying in camp is fun though, you get to meet a lot of people from all over the world. We brought our own backpacking tent and set it up on a soccerfield in Reith. The 2nd stage was 87 km and had over 3400 meters of climbing which is good for us. On the last out of the 3 climbs, the sun was beating down and it was 40 degrees C (104 F). I was really hot, but I felt much better than the day before, my legs were back to normal and we ended up in 5th place. Alison Sydor and Carsten Bresser of Rocky Mountain/Haywood won this stage for the mixed category again.

STAGE 3 began in the town of Mayrhofen. We started out with a 30 km climb and then it was mostly down hill and flat for the remainder of the 94 km. We were in 3rd place until the 2nd feed station when team Rye Mix passed us with a big group. We were by ourselves almost the entire rest of the time, it was pretty windy, so we lost 8 minutes on the last 30 km, but ended up in 4th this day.

STAGE 4 from Brixen to St Vigil was only 67 km long, but had over 3000 meters of climbing. We had 2 long steep climbs each gaining over 1200 feet of elevation. The day ended with a long descent partly on pavement. We were flying down roads with traffic at 80 km per hour. I tried not to think of what would happen if I had a flat... This was our first day to get on the podium!! I was really tired and starving after this stage so we decided to find a pizzeria. We walked around in the heat for a while before realizing that all restaurants were closed until 7pm. Ended up at a bakery instead. At the "pasta-party" there was finally some protein. We had chicken, lasagna, and tomatoes as opposed to the plain pasta with tomatoe sauce they usually serve. After the daily serving of Gelato we set our tent up outside a small school.

STAGE 5 was another short day with 50 km, (32 miles) but still had 2337 meters (7500 feet) of elevation gain. We had a good day and were able to make up 6 minutes on the 3rd place mixed team. We still had 8 more minutes to make up to get into 3rd place, but we hoped to be able to do this, since the next 3 stages were a bit longer. After the stage which took us 3 hrs and 25 minutes I went to take a shower. Unfortunately there were no facilities for the women and I had to clean up in a bathroom at the hockey arena using a spray hose meant to hose down the toilet. Nothing like power washing your hair bent over a toilet. Needless to say, I got water all over the stall... After my "shower" we rested outside the big tent set up for the campers. This is when I started getting my cold and I was blowing my nose every 30 seconds. After standing in line for an hour we finally got our pasta and then got on the podium again!! This time we received a giant box of cheese for our efforts. We decided to give it to the Magura mechanic, because he helped us out a bunch during the previous stages. We set our tent up in the hockey rink, but because of my cold I did not sleep much that night. I felt horrible at the start of

DAY 6. We started out with a steep gravel climb right out of town. I had no power and teams were passing us left and right. At one point I blew my nose really hard and all of the sudden the trail started spinning and I had to stop because I couldn't ride straight. After a little while my right ear popped really loud and I could see straight again. The steep climb got steeper and we started hiking up a ski slope. I was dying, hyperventilating, and it hurt my lungs to breathe. I saw the Norweigan team pass us as they were hiking straight up the hill whereas I had to zig-zag up. We had 2 more climbs after the first one and during the 2nd climb lots of people passed us asking what was wrong. Poor Eric, I was going so slow. At times I was holding on to Eric's camelbak to just keep moving. During the last climb which was 10 km with 1900 feet of climbing I was able to slightly increase my snail's pace and luckily we had a 4000 foot descent into Predazzo. I could care less what place we got, I just wanted to finish the day. I had such a bad attitude this day. I was having flash backs to Alaska, convincing myself I had pneumonia and was doing my body severe damage.... We got 11th place again and unfortunately lost 20 minutes to team Rye Mix. I went straight to the medical tent since I was conviced I was on my death bed. The paramedic listened to my lungs and said that there was no pneumonia, but that he thought I had an infection in my bronchioles. GREAT!!! He gave me something to losen up the phlegm and told me it might not be a great idea to race with an infection. I agreed but thought I would see how I felt the next day. Marg and Nikki from team Raven saved my life that day. They had rented a small apartment and offered their pullout for me to sleep on. Eric and I skipped the pasta and went out for dinner instead. I loaded up on ambien, cough syrup, and the medicine I got from the race doctor and had a night of weird dreams. Eric said he was sure we would not race the following day because I was delerious and talking in my sleep. I actually felt a bit better the next morning which was good since

STAGE 7 was 103 km with over 3000 meters of climbing. I was a little worried because the day started with 18 flat kms of paved cyclepath and I had a very hard time doing anything anaerobic due to my cold. Starts like these are a bit scary, since everyone wants to be in the front and there are usually crashes. As soon as we started the first 1200 meter climb we were passing teams again. When I could get into a rhythm I didn't feel that bad. There was a feed station at the top of the climb and that's when we caught the Steppenwolf team that were in 3rd for the day. They were very fast descenders so they left us behind but we were able to get into a group on the flat leading to the 2nd climb so we didn't lose much time. We passed team Steppenwolf on the second climb and were able to get another 3rd place finish. We were now still in 4th place overall and gained back 14 minutes on team Rye Mix. Rocky Mountain/Haywood took their 7th stagewin. After the stage we had lunch/dinner at a pizzeria and hung out with some of the teams from Costa Rica. We have been riding close to "team Seven Capital Management" with Dax Jaikel and Castro Daniel. Dax lost his leg in a bike accident 4 years ago and is riding with a below the knee prosthesis. What a stud!!! After the awards ceremony we spent the night in a parking garage. I couldn't make myself eat any more pasta so we just had the apfel strudel and then went out for gelato. Great race food.

The last day started in Folgaria. I knew we had to be quick in the start because after the first short climb there was a single track descemt and if you get there late, you get stuck in the bottle neck. Well, I had only one speed and that was slow, so when we got to the single track we had to walk and were unable to get past anyone. After another climb there was a second technical section that was slightly wider and I rudely passed people on the sides in the bushes or off the trail. No one wanted to step to the side which made it pretty difficult to pass. Most men were pretty annoyed being passed and one guy tried to take a swing at Eric when he went by... The last climb seemed long. It was around 15 km with over 1000 meters of climbing. It was getting very hot and the second part was really really steep. It was labeled "bike path" but I can't imagine who on earth rides those paths... We had a little bit more fun single track on the down hill and finished on flats going into Riva del Garda. We were in a group with 2 other mixed teams but didn't really feel like sprinting for 7th place, so we ended up in 9th for the day. Unfortunalely we did not catch team Rye Mix but we were pretty happy with our 4th place. There is some very strong competition in Europe. Alison and Carsten killed the competition by hours off course. Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of Team Bulls won for the men and The Klose twins won the women's category.