So this was it. My first mountain bike race. OK, I did a couple of 24 hour races back in the states, SSWC 2005 and of course SiS. But this is different. It is my first race as a member of BWR and this race should be my starting point for next step in my mountain biking life. In the last couple of years I would have never thought, that I will join “normal” races besides SiS and SSP-Events.
How could that happen?
In 2003 I started with singlespeeding. In the beginning it was nothing else than a other form of training for me, something that I could do with my wife. It soon changed after I discovered how much fun it was and that I could ride all the trails I did geared.
Five years later I pedal higher gears and it is still fun, especially 2009, in which I got to ride a lot and really felt the progress which comes with constant riding and a little more training. So this race should be a test for me how much is possible – on a twentyniner singlespeed.
The race took place in a small village near Augsburg. It was organized by the Veloclub-Lechhausen. You could choose from 1, 2 or 3 rounds each 34 km long and with 600 hm elevation change. I went for the 68km 1200 hm Halbmarathon – it should be a test – you remember? The course resembles a lying eight on the map. The first part has really nice singletracks, uphills and rooty downhills. The second part consists mostly of forrest roads.
I went with my normal gear: Niner Sir9, built up with parts from FRM and Geax. The dry weather in the last couple of weeks made me initially go for the Barro Race tires, which I absolutely love for fast rolling forest roads. A night ride in the rainy weather we have lately made me to rethink my decision and I changed back for the Saguaros, I rode the most part of last year. I feel absolutely confident with these tires. On all surfaces they roll the line I chose, be it gravel, rocks or loose forest ground. It proved to be a good choice.
Sunday 9.30am. I arrived at the location. Picked up my race package put on the number and went for the starting line. There I stood between all the others. Some faces turned to my frame, but nobody said a word. I think they have never seen a twentyniner before. Moments later some saw the SSP-setup, the looks on their faces – priceless! And it stopped to rain just before the start, finally.
10am- off we went on a stretch of road before we turned right into the forest. I started with a moderate pace, I didn’t want to go faster, sometimes there were cues on the trails. And then it was up and down some nice trails with a steep downhill at the end. My glasses were all foggy, so a root got me at this trail and I crashed, but I could go on. On the flat parts the riders I passed on the uphills rode by again, before I got them at the next hill. Also on the rooty parts I had the advantage of the big wheels. Even the fullsuspension bikes seemed to have more problems to go over the wet roots. Again no problems with the Geax tires.
After 20 km we turned into the start/finish area, went over a bridge to go on into the next loop of the first round. Thanks for the warm tea and the bar. This part was mostly fast rolling. Back at the start, it was time to refill my bottles and grab some bananas. Now the course looked empty since many riders went with one round because of the conditions. My bike was all covered in mud, I couldn’t read the decals any more. There was a constant murmur from underneath, the chain was also clogged up with mud, but Connex chains have never failed me. On the course I passed a lot of riders, experiencing problems with their drivetrain, chains fallen off or even broken. Lucky me to ride singlespeed!
But the finish was still one round to go and it should be a long one. Just before coming back to the finish area the third time I had the first cramps going up a hill. They went by and I rode on. But they came back again. But I was not the only one. Some other riders going a similar pace, were riding with me and also fighting the pain. This made it a little easier. After holding back the last 3/4 of the race I tried to put all I had left down on the pedals. And it worked. I could leave some riders behind me and even closed the distance to one rider before me. After all it was a race. On the last long uphill of the course I passed him and the finish was before me. With the sign 200 meters to go I knew I had done it. My first marathon.
In the end I even fulfilled my expectation: finishing in the middle third, although at the end of it.
For pictures go to http://www.veloclub-lechhausen.de/mtb/index.html