I did a nice road cycling loop out into the Marlborough Sounds today.
I drove to the Rai Valley mid morning and parked near the turn off to the roads that head North to the bays. The Nelson weather had been playing a nasty trick on me again. It was delicious, blue and sunny as I left but in the Rai Valley it was grey and cloudy. Still I set off towards Okiwi Bay. The climb was quite nice and I soon got into it. The descent into the bay was also nice. The weather wasn’t so bad. It was reasonably warm. There was native bush on each side of the road so it was quite pretty. I rode up the next climb continuing along French Pass road and then rolled along the windy road. At the turn off to Elaine Bay I left the road.
I took my shoes off and began pushing my bike up a very stony steep track that climbed for a couple of hundred metres up near the power lines. It then sidled around the hill climbing and dropping before descending steeply. It turns out this was all wrong and the track Georgia had meant heads around the bays and is much more ridable and happy. My track took about 2 hours and left me in Tuna Bay at the head of Tennyson Inlet. I came out by the World’s End street sign, which was funny. I was there 6 weeks earlier with Ari.
From there I followed the pretty road around near the sea that winds and climbs and drops to Harvey Bay. Then I stomped up the hill feeling good to Opouri Saddle. The descent from there is steep, narrow, and winding. I time trialled back to the car and drove back to Nelson.
Above left: I did a nice road cycling loop that started in the Rai Valley and headed towards Okiwi Bay. Above right: There was a section from Elaine Bay to Tennyson Inlet that was definitely not ridable. Unfortunately I took the less optimal route up along a random stony track instead of heading around by the seashore.
Above left: I could see down into Elaine Bay. Above right: A bit too technical for road cycling.
Above: I was here very recently with Ari!
Above: The route.
Josh stayed the night and on Saturday evening we cycled to Hohenems to pick up our race packs.
Today we got up slightly before 4 am and cycled to the start of the race. The ride there was quite nice. It was a clear morning and the race started just before sunrise, at 6am.
We arrived 20 minutes before the start and it looked like most people were already lined up. I went to the back whereas Josh did the smart thing and snuck in somewhere further towards the front. The start was supposed to be neutralised but as usual it wasn’t really. I spent the first 10km to the Bödele climb cycling past people. The climb to Bödele was ok and I passed many people there too. The descent was nice and fast and fun.
I had a good group on the flat to the Hochtannberg Pass climb. I started to slow down on the climb and many people passed me. I just felt like I didn’t have any energy. Oh well. Another fun descent from the pass to Warth where I stopped at the refreshment station. I felt a little better after that and rode at the front of a group to Lech along the enjoyable winding road.
I was a bit slow on the climb up to Flexenpass and a fair few people passed me again. The descent from Flexenpass was neutralised. We had to take at least 18 minutes to descend. I stopped just after crossing the line in the neutralised zone and ate a bit thinking that would free up some time for the descent. The descent was a nice roll. I was worried I was a bit too fast and might be disqualified but apparently I wasn’t.
Once back in the race I chased onto a bigger bunch with some guys and stuck with the bunch until the end. They were good. There were some strong guys who seemed to be ok with doing all the work! I sat on and did very little. I wasn’t feeling that great. I had been sick during the week and perhaps I wasn’t completely ok. As we passed the turn off to the Highlander I was happy that I’d made the right decision. A lot of the rest of the Rund um Vorarlberg course is flat and we had a good pace. There were two more small climbs and I made sure I rode to the front of the bunch so as not to fall off the back. I was happy that my legs were ok, maybe from the long rest during the descent.
We neared the finish line and I tried to position myself in a good place in the bunch for a sprint. One guy tried to ride off the front too early and I sat on his wheel for a bit until he ran out of steam. It wasn’t far before the finish so I changed down twice and gave it everything. I put a good distance back to the bunch except for one guy who crossed the line possibly before me. Not that it matters as the whole race is on transponder time and none of us were going to win. It’s nice to put in a good finish sprint though.
Rund um Vorarlberg 2019
Rund um Vorarlberg 2019 Time: 4:52:51 Place overall men: 107/367 Place Category: 61/226
This year we were treated to a cool but dry start and a sunny and warm finish. The conditions were almost perfect. The race went quite ok but I was a bit slower compared with last year although perhaps this was within the variability you can expect from one year to the next due to things like bunches etc.
My legs were alright on Arlberg Pass and I had a good group up the valley towards the climb up to Biehlehohe. As usually happens though, my legs died on the climb and I was quite slow. It looks like the timing mats weren’t working for the climb as there isn’t anything listed in the results for this stretch but I guess it took a little over an hour to ascend. My legs just didn’t seem to have any zing. Maybe the longer week of cycling at the Giro delle Dolomiti had something to do with it. It’s a bit demotivating having other cyclists zooming past but it has sometimes been worse in previous years.
At the top of the climb I stopped and grabbed something to eat before descending. I was somewhere in the middle between bunches. There was nobody around. I had had a large bunch on the way to the climb but that had got away. So I rode alone for maybe 15 km(?) before a couple of guys caught up and then later a few more. We had about 15 in the group as we neared the end of the descent.
I usually suffer on the ride up the valley but perhaps I had had time to recover on the descent and the pace up the valley seemed slower than usual. Unfortunately a few km before the finish a huge group caught up and we rode with them to the finish. My legs were so flat that I couldn’t do my usual sprint over the finish line and came in at the back of the group. Still my time wasn’t awful. I measured something like 5 hours 2 minutes but the official time was faster. This was because they neutralised about 6km of the descent after Arlberg Pass due to roadworks. This removed about 15 minutes of the race and meant I descended more slowly than normal. So between this and the slow descent from Biehlehohe I may have lost perhaps 15 minutes meaning I would have had the same time as last year. So all-in-all it wasn’t a bad performance just that I felt I should have been faster on the Biehlehohe climb and was hoping I might be a bit fitter this year.
I didn’t hang around long after the race. I packed up my tent at the campsite in Pettneu and caught the train back to Lochau.
Above left: This year I was alone at the race. I took the train from Lindau and stayed at the campsite in Pettneu. Here I am at the race registration. Above right: I’ve ridden the Arlberg Giro a lot, almost every year since 2012.
Above left: The campsite in Pettneu is near a small stream. Above right: Each year I take a picture similar to this one.
Above: Dancing girls have been a feature at the finish line for the last few years. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing.
Arlberg Giro 2019 Time: 4:47:29,4 (6km less than usual) Place Overall: 286 / 1355 Place Category: 70 / 277
Arlberg Giro 2019 Results