Arlberg Giro 2017

After two consecutive years of rain Leonie, Markus, and I firmly stated that we wouldn’t ride the Arlberg Giro in 2017. But then it got close to Arlberg Giro time and the temptation became too much especially as we were able to get some cheap tickets and the race is a good deal with a complimentary cycling jersey for all finishers (actually all starters).

So Leonie and I drove to Sankt Anton on Saturday morning planning to do a via ferrata route in the area but then I realised that I had forgotten my equipment so instead we spent the entire day lazing by the tent in Petteneu. Also good. We were even too lazy to watch the pro criterium.

The alarm went off at the happy hour of 4 am. We rolled out of bed and by 5:15 am we were riding up the valley to the start line. As we had registered late we had been placed in Block 4 and couldn’t change. We had originally thought we’d skip the race then as starting at the back of the field isn’t the best way to get a good time. We decided though that we could at least ride it as a training ride.

There was a 10 minute gap between each start block so I didn’t think we’d have a chance to catch Block 3. I was very wrong. I started at the front of our group and we followed the pace bike out of Sankt Anton onto the main road. I increased the pace and started passing the back of Block 3. I rode pretty hard up the pass and it wasn’t too long before I was passing people from Block 2. At around 10 minutes before the top I passed the first guy from Block 1. Hmm…

I rode through the short tunnel before the top of the pass and couldn’t believe it when I got out the otherside. Rain??! The Arlberg Giro weather strikes again. I pulled my jacket on while riding and started the wet descent. I was a bit cautious through the tunnels and on the corners not wanting to slide out. A pretty ok bunch formed and the descent continued. I managed to mess up a right hand bend into a bridge and had to break heavily causing my back wheel to bounce slightly. But all was ok and we continued.

The ride up the valley to the Bielerhoehe climb was ok. Not much to report. I usually don’t stop at the drink stations on this race. At least not before the pass but decided I needed a boost so got some cola. It helped a bit perhaps but I was feeling a bit light headed by the time I reached the top of the climb. The ascent had been a bit slow. In fact it was 5 minutes slower than last year.

I found a couple of strong riders on the descent and we motored until we caught up to a bunch. The bunch slowed us down and didn’t work well together but I was feeling like I needed a rest so didn’t do any towing.

The last ascent up the valley to Sankt Anton went well. I didn’t get dropped like some years. The organizers had added some nasty tricks though and we had perhaps anothe 75 m of extra climbing as we were rerouted off the main road twice through some small villages. Still I survived to the finish. I got a bit blocked by someone in front of me before the finish sprint and lost the first few guys but still had an ok sprint, hmmm, except for another guy who blocked me just before the line. Ok, maybe not such a good sprint.

I was pretty happy with my time. I finished in under 4 hours 56 minutes which was pretty good considering I started in block 4 and it rained on Arlberg Pass. I guess the rain really makes quite a different to the time. Maybe if it hadn’t rained on Arlberg Pass I would have been a few minutes faster. I was still about 10 minutes slower than 2013 and this year I was 5 minutes slower on the bielerhoehe climb than last year.  Maybe because Markus wasn’t chasing me 🙂 We had a little bit more climbing this year on the last ascent due to the diversion through the small villages. Hard to tell. I wasn’t too displeased anyway.

Leonie also had a good race and finished in 5 hours 38 minutes.

Swiss passes

Leonie and I headed to Zernez in Switzerland for the weekend.

On Saturday we rode Albula Pass then FlĂĽela Pass going through Davos on the way.

On Sunday we headed across the border to Italy and rode Forcola di Livigno followed by the Bernina pass.

The weather was horribly cold on Saturday with just 6 degrees at the top of the FlĂĽela pass. It was a little warmer on Sunday. The routes were quite nice but there was quite a lot of traffic.

Tannheimer Tal Radmarathon 2017

For the first time I tried out the long course. Markus and Leonie did too and Angela rode the middle distance.

Here’s how it went.

We turned up on Saturday afternoon after driving back from Cortina and met Markus and Angela at the Haldensee campsite. The weather forecast for Sunday promised sunny times so we were happy.

Sunday dawned but without the sunny times. Still it wasn’t raining so we were happy. The race started at 6 am. As usual we started a long way back in the field as we arrived a little late. I spent the first 15 minutes passing people and at some point Markus caught me up again. So did the rain. It began with just a little bit but soon it was “Arlberg Giro Feeling” or perhaps “Tour Transalp Stage 1 Feeling”. In fact it was very much like the Tour Transalp because the course also went through very similar areas and in some parts followed the same roads. The tour-feeling grew stronger as the intensity of the rain increased.

 

Markus, Leonie, and Cris (Tannheimer Tal Radmarathon)Leonie shortly after starting (Tannheimer Tal Radmarathon)

Above left: Markus, Leonie, and I had the crazy idea to enter the Tannheimer Tal long course. That’s 220km / 3500 m. It’s not something we train for. Above right: The race started dry.

The route went from Tannheim across the border to Germany and meandered around Allgäu. Then it headed up over Riedbergpass and back into Austria. By the time we got to the pass we had ridden 70 km or so and the rain had stopped. Markus stopped to clean his glasses and I continued alone. The route took us towards Hochtannberg Pass. By now the sun was shining.

I cruised up the pass conscious not to ride too hard. We had also been stopping at the majority of the refreshment stations to top up. I stopped at the next one in Warth just over the pass and Markus caught up again. I waited and we rode together down the valley collecting people along the way.

We ended up with a reasonably sized group for the ride down the Lechtal. At some point a van in front of us started motor-pacing us which I thought wasn’t so cool. We caught up to the next group only to find that they also had a car motor-pacing them!

Cris climbing Hochtannberg Pass (Tannheimer Tal Radmarathon)Cris and Markus on Gaichtpass (Tannheimer Tal Radmarathon)

Above left: It soon started raining heavily while we were riding through Allgäu. Luckily it cleared a little after Riedberg Pass and as we started climbing the Hochtannberg Pass it was sunny. Above right: To my surprise my legs felt good ascending Gaichtpass and Markus and I cruised past many people. This is odd because usually by the time I get here on the 130 km course my legs are smashed. I suspect it’s because of the difference in speed. I race the 130 km harder.

We stopped again at the last feed station before the pass back into Tannheimer Tal and then started the climb. Our legs were surprisingly fresh still, in fact the whole race seemed much easier than I had imagined. We sat on someone’s wheel for the flat section to the finish and then did a nasty sprint past him to cross the line in about 7 hours and 57 minutes.

I was surprised how fast we were as I had expected to take much longer. I was also surprised how easy it felt. I was expecting to suffer a fair bit on the last part of the 220 km and 3500 m of climbing. Very strange, I felt much more destroyed after the 130 km version of the race in the past. Perhaps it was a mix of not riding too hard and stopping at most of the feed stations.

Leonie had a very good race coming in half an hour or so after us.

Angela did the 130 km and also had a good first race.

Cris and happy Markus (Tannheimer Tal Radmarathon)Cris crosses the finsih line (Tannheimer Tal Radmarathon)Leonie crossing the finish line (Tannheimer Tal Radmarathon)

Above left: Markus didn’t seem at all tired! How irritating 🙂 Above middle: After being towed for the last 8 km by the third guy in this picture Markus and I allowed ourselves a finish sprint. Mmmm finish sprint. That’s one of the best parts of racing. Above right: Leonie had an excellent time coming in just under 40 minutes after us.

Above: This is what Strava thought. Interesting that the reported climbing is so different from what the organizers claim… Hmmm.

Lagazuoi tunnels

Leonie and I headed off early again, this time to Passo Valparola a bit further on from Passo di Falzarego. We followed the technically easy Kaiserjaegersteig up to Rifugio Lagazuoi where we had a delicious hot chocolate and apple struedel to reward our efforts. Then we headed back down through a tunnel system that was built in the war. The tunnels were long and constructed right inside the mountain itself. Occasionally there were passageways leading to openings to the outside. From there there were views to the surrounding mountains and down to the Cinque Torri.

Cinque Torri Climbing II

We left early again for the 5 towers. The plan was to do a multipitch route that we had been eyeing up yesterday. On arriving we weren’t sure whether the last pitch would be too hard for Leonie so we went and checked out a funky tower instead.

I lead the first pitch and then belayed Leonie from the anchor. She bailed after not long and instead continued belaying me from the ground as I went in search of the next anchor. I figured that the two pitches wouldn’t be longer than 60 m together and if they were longer than 30 m I could abseil back down to the first anchor.

 It was pretty run out between bolts and I was not at all keen to fall but the route was very easy so it wasn’t a problem. I discovered the next anchor on a large rocky outcrop from the main tower. Leonie decided to try it again and made it up this time.

I set up the safety at the anchor so that we both had enough rope so we could walk around a bit. I then had a quick breakfast and started into the 3rd, errr 2nd pitch. The route headed off to the left and was sparsely bolted. I was again really not keen to fall. I managed it to the top and enjoyed the awesome view.

Leonie lowered me back to the anchor and I lowered her back to the ground before abseiling myself. It turned out the 60 m rope was long enough so that both strands reached the ground.

We celebrated with a cold drink at the nearby refugio before doing another climb and then heading back down to Cortina for some lazing.