The Tour d’Energie (http://www.tourdenergie.de/) is the 100 km (60 mile) opener for the German Cycling Cup (http://cycling-cup.de/) and 1 of 15 events held on 28 Apr this year. The day prior served as my rebirth to racing with the Time Trial Prolog of the German Zeitfahrcup. However the Tour d’Energie was a rather step up to the grown up table from eating in the kitchen. TT’s are you against the clock . . . road races/events are you against everybody else. The course profile (http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2052078) alone gave me reason to question my decision making process. And being on the “martini madness wagon” to train, I could not use alcohol as an excuse for stepping up to this event . . .
As lean as I am (and getting leaner each day--hope to turn sideways and disappear soon…JUST KIDDING…maybe), I have never been a strong climber and this event had a few bumps in the road. But true to my purpose this season, if you are going to talk about being a bike racer I have to do more than just dress like one, I have to race. So to the road I went . . .
Similar to the prior event, our band of American riders had initially discussed a race strategy and possible team tactics. Being our first event out the gate we later through caution to the wind and suggested that we stay together if we can but let the stronger riders do their thang and plow forward. And this is exactly what the cats did…but more on that in a moment.
Recall my comments on German rules and precision…having no posted times in the German record books (Germans keep excellent records…helps enforce the rules), we were grouped in the last of 8 start groups. After some discussion and hand waving translations we figured out we could move back but not forward and rallied to start in Block G. Technology failed us and one of our riders was all alone in Block F. Thus we were reminded of the “shoot, move, communicate” rules of engagement. It hopefully will not happen again . . .
Being at the back of the bus, it took almost 45 minutes to start rolling. This would crush any warm up routine as we are expected to be in place and ready to roll prior to the first group of riders to start. And of course we did not risk trying to sneak forward. We feared the question, “Where are your papers?” and disqualification like no other . . . rules, rules, rules
The Tour d’Energie began w/ a neutral roll out. If you look at my race data (http://www.trainingpeaks.com/av/KUBK7TIYNILPXKBSFIRB2KRRE4) it was a bit faster than neutral. I was quickly reminded that turning in a large group of beginners is not easy. Cats slow down to turn and lines are lost. It is basically an accident waiting to happen. On one such slow down I heard breaks lock up and tires skid behind me. It was followed by the all too familiar sound of carbon and aluminum hitting the ground. OUCH!!! I pressed on w/ one of our top cats, Justin Creech, right behind me to ensure I was not part of the madness . . .
Once we passed the official “GO” line, my heart rate jump’d to the top of my frequency band and had a seat. My first road race in 2 years was on and turning back was not an option . . .
The field began to spread apart in little lines and clusters. I lost contact with my American crew and drove on. My personal strategy was to stay out of the wind as much as possible. However, this did not work well for me at all as I could not match the early burst out the gate. I was going backwards as waves of carbon, aluminum, some steel and colorful spandex shot past me. This was going to be a long day . . .
After about an hour I started to settle in. I found a few groups and motioned to try to get a pace line going. It went well for a while. The first series of rollers took a toll on me and I snapped off the back like a pretzel my little legs went. I would dig a little deeper, catch someone, recover, and catch the next guy. I would jump on trains as they went by and hold the wheel as long as I could. Some worked, most did not . . .
On the middle section of the course and the one flat portion before the climb I found myself “alone and afraid” . . . exactly what I did not want prior to the first big climb. Yet the spandex and carbon gods took pity on me and 3 cats in like kit rolled up and as they passed I jumped in. This time it worked. The 4 of us worked the tempo hard and picked up a train of folks. It was awesome and I felt like a bike racer once again. YES!!!
|A Climbing TURTLE|
We hit the climb and I gapped the guys as I settled into my own groove. The first climb was long and tough. The second one had a mini-spring challenge. Both crushed me but I dug in to make it up and over both. The roads were chalked w/ notes to riders and teams . . . and it will have one to our group next year! I made that promise as I crested the top and drove past those stopping to refill water bottles.
The 3 cats that carried me through the flats caught me on the decent of the second climb. We regrouped and started to drill home. My legs were screaming to let up. But for some strange reason I could not. They would not. I took hard pulls on the front, drifted back in our group to recover, and took another turn when my time was called. It was on and I was in the middle of it . . . THIS WAS PURE GOODNESS!!!
The final 1 K looked like a scene from a Pro race. Barricades were up on each side of the street, folks were cheering and legs were on fire. It was awesome and then some . . .
My official time for the event was 3:18 and change. Goal was under 3 hrs. I have work to do. Glad I have 14 more races to get it done. This is my cycling year; this is my cycling time . . . BRING IT!