Tannheim Rad-Marathon

On Friday afternoon I headed over to Allgäu and met Kathi there. We went out for dinner in the evening with Ulli, Deidre, Sam, and Peter. I rode into Austria over the Oberjoch to pick up my race pack in Tannheimer Tal on Saturday morning. After riding back Kathi and I drove to the Niedersonthofener See and met Katha, and Franka, and Vero there. We spent a lazy afternoon swimming and… lazing at the lake. There was a platform in the lake that provided much entertainment for us as we tried to stay afloat and it tried to slide us off.

Niedersonthofener See (Allgaeu, Germany) resize

Above: A lazy afternoon at the Niedersonthofener Lake. Good company, warm water, and sunshine.

The race started Sunday morning at 7 am in Tannheim, Austria. Kathi was extra-specially nice and got up early and drove me to the race start. Oh yes, I am grateful to have friends like her.

I made my usual mistake of starting far too far back in the field and had to go on a passing spree for the first ten minutes until a group of us got together and chased hard catching the front bunch 20 minutes into the race. A waste of energy but anyway… It’s possible a crash had slowed them down because we rounded a corner to find cyclists on the ground. I made a quick escape past the mess through a field beside the road. The route had descended quite a lot to begin with and our average speed after 30 minutes was around 47 km/h.

Cris at start line 4 (Tannheim Radmarathon, Austria) resize

Above: At the start line in Tannheim, Austria. I should have been standing much further up the field. Typical, typical.

The race progressed along nicely as we headed up the valley towards the turn-around at Dürnau. The bunch was spilling out over both sides of the road as the pace was not really on. I tried to stay near the front of the bunch but after a punter with aero bars passed me I decided I should probably move up a bit further. Too late. My usual crap bunch placement had failed me again. We headed right onto a small cycle path where we could only ride two abreast. I was stuck behind a bunch of slow pokes. Big gaps had opened up between the riders. Everyone seemed to be riding far too cautiously along the winding path that bobbed up and down by the river. I spent the next few kms along the cycle path passing people but sadly the first group had got away.

Once we left the cycle path I sat at the front of the bunch and towed for some time. After a while there were perhaps five of us rotating at the front. It was rather frustrating as we could see the front bunch perhaps 1 km in front of us but nobody wanted to work hard enough to catch them. I kept riding off the front of the bunch. Narghhhh. The effort was cooking my legs. After 15 – 20 km I sat up and decided there was no point towing the dead wood along. Instead I drifted to the back of the bunch and sat on.

We turned around at the head of the valley and cruised back down. There was now no chance of catching the lead group now. The pace was pretty leisurely but I wasn’t going to sacrifice my legs. Instead, I saved myself for the 200 m Category 2 climb near the end of the race that climbs into the head of Tannheimer Tal. Usually it’s a fairly easy climb. I moved to the front of the bunch as we started the climb and was in 3rd position for the first few corners until a couple of guys passed me. I spent the rest of the time chasing them with the 2nd female sitting on my wheel. She was suffering. So was I. At one point as I was pulling slightly away she said ‘Nimmst Du mich doch mit’ or something similar, ‘take me with you’. I wasn’t leaving in a hurry. It was the crux of the race. The climb flattens off near the top before climbing again. I struggled to keep a good pace and three guys caught up to us. We rode with them as the road began to climb again. I tried to pull but could feel my calf muscles starting to cramp.

It would have been a disaster to have cramped, 9 km before the end of the race. Luckily as it flattened off the twinges went away and I sat in behind the two remaining guys as they powered towards the finish. I took a couple of turns at the front but could not keep the pace that they were riding at going. Looking behind us there was nothing left of the bunch so it looked like we’d stay well clear of anybody following. My quads were on fire. It’s a good feeling though knowing you’re giving everything you have. We arrived in Tannheim and crossed the finish line with a total time of under 3 hours 30 mins.

A good race. A good route. I was happy with my legs but disapointed with my tactics. Ideally I would have started right up at the front and therefore not wasted any energy chasing to begin with. As we headed up the valley I should have been riding in the third row back so that I was not doing any work but wasn’t in any danger of having the bunch breaking up in front of me. I should have been like the other slack riders and have had sat on. Ideally the only work I would have done would have been on the last climb. Annoying…

It’s interesting to see the results. They don’t reflect what happened. We crossed the finsih line with one guy half a second in front of us followed by the girl and myself perhaps a quarter of a wheel distance apart followed by the other guy maybe a bike length behind. The results say that the girl crossed the line first. Strange. I wonder why the transponders are so inaccurate. It’s not like there was a high volume crossing the line at one time.

Tannheim Rad-Marathon 3:27:35 Dst: 130.63 km Avg: 37.76 km/h M 74.55 km/h Avg Cad: 85 Ascent: 930 m

I rode back to Sonthofen and lazed with Kathi for the rest of the day. A good weekend in Allgäu although it’s a strange feeling to be back there. I still miss the frau that used to be there with me.

Kathi knitting (Sonthofen, Allgäu) resize

Above: Kathi knitting in the back garden on Sunday afternoon.

Tannheim radmarathon July 2011_web

Above: The race route…

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