Arlberg Giro 2012

I headed to Sankt Anton in Austria on Saturday morning with Ole from RIG and met Thomas and Pascal, the other RIGers there. As we were intending to race on Sunday the weather was of course bad. Pascal’s friend Karsten and his sister Janine showed up later in the day. We messed around not doing too much. There was a pro criterium in the evening that we watched in the wet. Sunday dawned rain free but at the start line the warned us of heavy rain ahead. I snuck back and picked up my knee warmers. A good thing too…

The race was the Arlberg Giro. It starts in Sankt Anton and ascends Arlberg pass before dropping down and then later climbing over Bielerhöhe pass. It’s 148 km with 2400 metres of climbing. From the start line it goes straight into a climb over Arlberg pass which sorts everyone out nicely. I wasn’t sure how I’d go over the race so didn’t go too crazy on the climb. At the top of the pass I didn’t have a group. There were three or four in front of me though and I couldn’t see the next group behind. I descended as fast as I could given that the road was wet. After the last windy corner I rode hard and caught up to the the few in front of me. I ended up riding with two others for the next 10 km until a bunch caught us up and we rode the rest of the descent with them. It was now nice and wet just like in the Tannheim Radmarathon this year. Water was coming from above and below due to it spraying up off the wheels. We slowly ascended over the next kms until the second major climb began. I went against my principles and used my triple chain ring. I should really just get a new bike with a compact crank set.

The triple seemed to save my legs and the climb went ok. I stopped briefly at the drink station at the top as there was nobody directly in front of me. A hairy descent involving cows, their excrement, lots of water, and corners ensued. The guys behind me caught up and we rode together in a group of maybe four. I scared myself on a corner where it felt like my front wheel was no longer gripping the road so well at 70 km/h. The descent was generally quite fun though. Really fast. After a while Karsten who had been just behind me at the top of the climb caught up with a group and we all rode together trying not to slide out on the nasty metal culvert covers on the road or ride into the walls in the tunnels.

We eventually reached the end of the ascent and started climbing back into the valley leading to Sankt Anton. Karsten dropped off the back and I stayed with a bunch for a while before dropping off too. I rode for some time by myself before Karsten and a couple of others caught up. I couldn’t stay with them and let them go but as we reached a short descent managed to get back on. We had a painful finish with Karsten pulling and me trying to sit on as much as possible. During the last section we put the pace on a little and crossed the finish line together in 5 hours 3 mins (207/710 – men overall). Quite a good race. Pity about the weather. Would be a nice circuit in the sun.

Cris the poser posing (Arlberg Giro 2012) resize

Above: Posing with the free bike top that comes in the race pack. Look it’s sunny… Oh it’s Saturday.

Arlberg Giro 2012

Wandering in the mountains

Leonie drove us to Allgäu on Friday evening and then over the border to Tannheimer Tal in Austria. We camped the night in the rain at the Haldensee.

We ummed and aahed about what to do on Saturday as the weather was poos. We decided to brave it and went walking in the mountains around Tannheim. The rain ceased and it was just overcast and windy. We headed up into the hills in search of Kaiserschmarrn at a little alpine hut but once there decided to keep walking. We meandered along until we found ourselves ascending Gaishorn. We crossed some tricky stoney sections and found our way to the summit. At that point it all became clear where we were. Emily, Frauke, Bini and I had been in the area about the same time two years ago in 2010. We descended by a different route down a ridge and headed back to Tannheimer Tal. A very nice little wander.

Leonie crossing snow 2 (Gaishorn, Austria) resize Descending (Gaishorn, Austria) resize

Above: The track had tricky little bits on the way up (left) and on the way down (right).

Cris and Leo (Gaishorn, Austria) resize Running to Leo (Gaishorn, Austria) resize

Above: Leonie and Cris at the Gaishorn summit (2249 m).

Engadin Radmarathon 2012

My second try at the Engadin Radmarathon in Zernez in Switzerland. I entered the short distance course again. At 97 km and 1500 vertical metres it’s comparable to Le Race but it gets all the climbing out of the way by the 50 km mark so overall it’s easier than Le Race. On Saturday I sold an arm and a leg to DB Bahn and after missing my first connection due to being rather disorganised, no surprise there, I headed to Switzerland around 1 pm after a delicious little bite to eat at Paradies in Freiburg. I camped in a camp ground near the start like last year.

Unlike last year I haven’t had any races to prepare me so I was feeling rather slow. I was also feeling rather tired from cycle touring in the heat in Mallorca a few days ago. Is that enough excuses?

It was rather cold as I got up on Sunday. I started in the first block this year and squeezed my bike in nearish the front. The race starts straight into a climb and I puffed my way up through the hills. Once we got to the tunnel and crossed the border into Italy I didn’t work as much as last year and spent more time sitting on. After the shuffling of bunches settled down we had grouped with the second bunch and could see the first bunch up the road a bit away from us. All was going ok until the climb up to the first pass then my old age, fatness, and unfitness worked against me. From the entire bunch I was the only one to drop off the back. Sad…

The front of the third bunch was just behind me when I arrived at the pass. I tried my best to put some more distance between me and them on the descent. I reached 92 km/h last year at this spot but this year I got stuck behind slow cars and slower cyclists holding up cars. Also the road was a little damp as the weather had been doing undesirable things. At the beginning of the next climb the third bunch caught up and people started riding past me like I was stationary. Or more like I was riding backwards. Very sad.

I guess the majority of the third bunch had passed me by the top of the pass. Still there were a few people scattered in front of me on the descent and I rode hard to catch up to one slightly larger group. Why does everybody sit up on descents like this? Maybe not everybody but it wasn’t too hard to pass people. I hit 94 km/h on the descent and had a dodgy moment as my back wheel hopped on a corner at 87 km/h.

We formed a good group and rode hard catching up to a group in front when they unfortunately (for them) had to stop at a red light. From there it was a reasonably paced ride to the finish line in drizzle. I crossed in a time of 2:51:30 (strangely my speedo said 2:50:53, which is a little odd, I guess 2:51:30 is gun time and my speedo shows riding time, my Graperide tactics didn’t pay off here…) placing 64th in the senior male rankings. This just goes to show how many speedy people did the long course. In the overall short course rankings I was 96.

Oh dear, I lost so many places because I had no power in my legs. I guess I’m slightly older, 2 kg-ish heavier, and this was the first race of the season. Still it’s no fun doing worse than the previous year.

It was cold and raining as I finished and I cowered in my tent for a while. Thankfully the weather improved after a couple of hours and I went and tried my hand at the Flüelapass . I bailed near the top and rode back down before catching the train back to Freiburg.

Camping in Zernez (Switzerland) resize Getting sorted the night before the race (Zernez, Switzerland) resize View up towards Flüelapass (Switzerland) resize

Above: Camping in Zernez before the race and a view from the road up to Flüelapass.

Engadin Radmarathon 2012 (short course) Time: 2:51:30 Dst: 97.82 km Avg: 34.35 km/h Max: 94.17 km/h Avg Cad: 80 Place: 64 category, 96 men overall

Ride up Fluelapass after race: Time: 01:51:54 Dst: 33.17 km Avg: 17.78 km/h Max: 70.44 km/h Avg Cad: 57