MarathonMTB.com team rider Will Hayter and guest rider Lionel Richardson are racing the 14th Craft Bike Transalp, from Mittenwald in Germany to Riva del Garda in Italy. Here are their views on day 1.
I seem to be making a habit of doing eight-day stage races where I’ve barely raced with my teammate in the lead-up to the event. For the ABSA Cape Epic in March, I hadn’t seen Mike for six months, but we did have an excuse – we live on opposite sides of the world. Lio and I have fewer excuses – we live three miles apart in London. However, for one reason or another, we haven’t ridden much together. We did only confirm our entry at the end of May though!
Anyway, the first day was therefore all about finding out how we were both riding and feeling. In short, Lio had a tough day out. A lengthy journey from the family holiday in western France, then an insufficiently good night’s sleep. The heart rate was high before we had even left the start. Anyway, we got over the first climb, descended down the usual Alpine gravel madness, then bashed along a road section into the second climb. We were just settling into a good rhythm when Lio’s chain dropped between cassette and spokes. Cue a lot of cursing and losing at least 20 minutes. Needless to say, Lio’s mechanic is likely to be getting an earful…
I had problems of my own. Injuries tend to beget injuries, unfortunately. So a broken collarbone in South Africa in March led to insufficient time on the MTB before a 24-hr race in June, which resulted in an irritated IT band. That hasn’t really recovered in time for this, so 4.5 hrs in I was starting to get stabbing pains in the outside of my left knee. Ice and ibuprofen here we come – hopefully it will hold up.
We finished 116th in the Men category, and ended the day stronger than we started. So we’ll look forward to tomorrow, and plan to get better as the week goes on.
All in all, though, the sun shone, the scenery was amazing, particularly the Karwendel valley, and overall the mountains are a fantastic place to be.
Any gripes we might have rather fade into insignificance compared to the day suffered by our marathonMTB.com team-mates, Hans and Craig, who were riding awesomely in the Super-Masters category, when on the first descent someone overtook them unsafely, and pushed Craig into an unholdable correction. Result – crash out, broken femur. Helicopter to hospital. We’re gutted for them. Anyone who has been reading their blogs will know just how hard they’ve been training, and they were going great guns when they passed us on the climb. Best wishes, Craig – hope you heal up soon.
A thought to Hans and Graig, we know how committed they were to race the TRANSALP we feel really sorry for them.
Well it was not a good day in terms of form, for some reasons I couldn’t fall asleep last night and last time I checked the clock it was 5.30 am. Not ideal when you know you have 5 hours to spend on the bike and the clock is set on 7am..Heart Rate was 14 beats per minute over my normal wake up rate this means entering the red zone sooner.
We didn’t do too bad this morning on the start line, fighting to stay by the front of the pack avoiding crashes, also, still sometimes you have to use some pointing elbows to get respected and protect your own space.
Anyway this was paid back straight away on the first climb for me struggling to find my climbing rhythm. Feeling a bit better in the valley we hammered down, as we are also good roadies. But, then the massive second climb I reckon we lost 30 mn, the chain was stuck in, pulling it like a mad man didn t get it out…until this rider stopped by and used a piece of woods to get it out, thanks again unknown hero! We reckon 70 teams took us over during that time, that’s really frustrating to watch from the side of the track…so we increase our pace and finish much stronger, taking over probably 30 teams mainly on the last climb.
I want to get to bed early and get ready for tomorrow, I think we can do much better.
Oh I have to say how amazing was Will, he got some fresh drinks for both of us before the second climb and bring it back up to me, and even gave me a little push sometimes. Of course I spent most of the day sucking his rear wheel taking very short turns at the front, but it is a long week and I am looking forward to being at the front!