Monday, May 20, 2013

LANTERNE ROUGE Season V: The Fast and Furious (East) Germans

German Cycling Cup Race 4 of 15, the Neuseen Classics, sent two lone DragonQuest Racers to the former East German town of Zwenkau.  Only DIESEL (Matt Arant) and I would step up to tackel the 140 km course.

Although the wall fell many moons ago, you can still catch a glimpse of that Cold War architectural style . . . grey blocks with a splash of modern color to cover the past.  But that is another story all together.

Coach Quest (on our Disabled Rider List) joined me on the drive up bringing 2 extra bikes and a frame.  We were going to build a bike and hopefully get it on the road during this “Mancation” away from our women.  Bike building is a great way to spend the evening getting ready for a race.  Or so we thought so more on that later . . .

We were impressed by the relatively new stretches of Autobahn and pushed through the drive with no issues.  Other than a “Smile for the Camera” red flash known to all that speed in Europe.  How dare they upset my drive like that?  A speed trap on new road?  This is not Texas!  This is the land of the Autobahn.  Darn former East German . . . the ticket will come out of my cycling kitty--OUCH!!!

Anyway . . . we rolled into our rather cold war looking accommodations and were immediately greeted by a staff that had us laughing within minutes.  No cold, stoic, harden former East Germans here.  These cats were KOOL ‘n da GANG.  Folks I could sit and have multiple beers with . . . yet I had to get my racing face on so it would have to wait.

Suffering from another case of being lost in translation, we arrived at our “doubleroom” at the Alpha Appart Hotel in Rötha to find two (twin) small beds pushed together.  Without hesitation I dropped my bags to perform a Moses and split the two units.  Coach and I are close but snuggling on our Mancation was not an option . . .

We quickly grabbed grub at the hotel restaurant and after Coach took a small lashing for not finishing his plate, we starting building a bike.  We then suffered another setback as the part I thought I had covered down on was the wrong one.  UGH!!! I was not liking this at all.  Multiple setbacks can ruin even a Happy TURTLE Vibe.  Yet we pressed on . . .

Before turning in we check my show time, did math in public, and tried to get some rest.  As I enter cycling dream land I thought all was good.  But in fact I was sadly mistaken . . .

Got the first wake-up call at 0430 by a few ANGRY BIRDS camped out in the quad between the Cold War stone.  Panic set in as the light outside made me think I had overslept.  I fumble for my iPhone to check the time and fumbled more to the window and looked for something to throw but the only thing close were my cycling cleats and I needed those.  So I slammed the window, wrapped a pillow over my ears and tried to get back to sawing logs . . . it worked.

AM grub, 10 min of meditation, and out the door Coach and I went.  And this is where the wheels started to come off the bus.  Roads leading to the Start/Finnish were already closed.  Our GPS was in such a constant “Recalculating” that my cranium started spinning.  Four+ hours on the road not to race?  UGH again.  The demons were trying to gang up on me.  I could not let that happen. 
So we parked, I grabbed some HAMMER PERPETEUM holly watermix, my bike, gear and decided to push to the Start/Finnish . . .

Well now . . , a closed road to vehicle traffic is ALSO a close road to bike traffic.  The 0900 block had started and I could not ride back on the course until the last guy went by.  More panic as I tried to calculate time, distance, and the Theory of Relativity to determine if I would make it to the Start/Finnish before my 0930 start Block.  I was starting to get worried as my Garmin showed a local time of 0915 before the Policeman let myself and a few other roll . . .

I got to the Start/Finish with 5 min to spare.  YEAH!!!  Happy TURTLE Dance on the pedals.  I sorted out my group and got in line.  My one Teammate was in BLOCK A.  I was in BLOCK C.  Not the back of the bus (that was BLOCK E) but not the front either.  However, I lined up behind 6 cats w/ legs like tree trunks from Team “Steile Wand” . . . these cats were BEASTS!!! 

As we rolled through the start, I moved up the outside and started to work my way up the field.  I could see a group ahead and I actually could see the lead car in front of BLOCK A.  Talk about motivation . . . my legs were feeling awesome as I jumped and push across a few gaps.  I wanted to catch that group!!!  Things were going well for the first 15 min until I found myself unable to close a gap and in “no mans land” between groups and a heavy wind.

Then the 6 Ponies from Steile Wand came cruising by.  I jumped on the train in position 9 and caught the wave.  The clip was awesome and these cats were working like clock work in a double pace line.  The organization and precision was pure German and I decided to ride this wave.  At one point we were going about 38 - 40 kph and the young guy next to me asked if I would go with him on a break.  I was unwilling to give up my free ride and decided to pass.  The kid and another two cats went . . . we caught them 2 k later.

Cats in the back were actually complaining about the tempo being to slow.  I was trying not to laugh or come across as a smart ass with a comment like . . . “if you want to go faster, get yourself up to the front and pull” . . .

My 6 Little Ponies were covering course.   We dropped to single file to blow by a group and then formed right back up once past.  I executed my instructions from Coach Quest, “...if a strong group passes you, pedal harder!”

I told myself I would not loose contact with this group and dug deep to stay in it on little rises and through turns.  Being near the front I picked solid lines, shifted, and pedaled out of the turns to stay on it.  On one such turn A cat tried to move up the outside and took the guy in front of me down.  That sad sound of carbon, aluminum, and bodies hitting the road was just over my left shoulder.  I pedal through and we kept pressing forward.

At 70 K some cats that had been riding the wave jumped, the Ponies went and so did I.  They lost one in their group but I kept on it as I was determined not to loose my free ride just yet.  Then all of a sudden the Start/Finnish was in front of me.  I looked down to see 77 km on my Garmin . . . UGH yet again!!!  I lined up with the wrong group.  I was supposed to do the 140 K route.  I just got an “F” in math . . . my Kung Fu had just failed me.

My legs felt strong, I had more in the tank.  I was mentally and physically prepared. for 140K. However, I failed to plan properly and thus I planned to fail.  A later look at the race documentation showed that my Start Time was 0900 and not 0930.  How did I miss that?  UGH to the nth power!!!
TURTLE and The Steile Wand Ponies
Yet, I rode my best even in the series thus far averaging over 37 kph for the two hours.  I look forward to the next set of races with even more conviction now.  I have Time Trials the entire month of June and need to bring it a lot stronger than I have in the past as I will miss two races in the German Cycling Cup series.   Yet I am mentally ready for it all.  Despite a few setbacks for learning the racing scene here in Germany, my quest for bikeROCKstar status remains on track.

1 comment:

  1. Building a bike the night before racing it? That takes some guts =)