Monday, July 11, 2011

Engadin RadMarathon 2011 (Cycling)

Well, simply said - it was a challenge!

My first ever road bike race. A lot of cross-country skiing, running, swimming, even one mountain bike race ... but never road cycling.

Total distance - 211km
Total elevation - 3827m
Total time - 7h 01min 30,8seconds
Total rang - 50th
Average speed - 30km/h

My friend Valentin persuaded me to do it this year and I fell for it. It was worth doing! After the skiing season was finished I built my training plan specifically for this race.

Did my first intervals on road bike! I was afraid of climbing, so started to work on it. Went to Col de Mosses from Lausanne (1028m climb, around 5.5%), went around Geneva lake on average 35km/h (flat but 180km, took 5h05). Many times Col de Marchairuz (700m climb), almost every week Col de Mollendruz. During 5 days of job travel to Crete, cycled 4 days like in the training camp.

Actually was kind of prepared, but it was still long race. Could not even estimate how much time it'll take, so put around 8h when was registering. The best guys are around 6h20-30 minutes normally.

Hehe, even washed my bike completely :) And went to get some fun. We met with Valentin in Zernez, ate some pasta and went to the hotel. I guess Valya was sick of all my questions: how this, how that ... Well, it's his third time, I should get some experience beforehand :)

The full race profile is here.

Got up in the morning at 4:45, had a big breakfast and to the race start. 7:00. Start was quite sluggish. If we take Engadin ski marathon, everybody starts like crazy, but on a bike - people went slowly: it was real fun. First climb (just in the beginning is around 400m). I pushed quite hard - the plan was to get to the strong people and stay with them on the following flat area around Livigno. The plan was generally quite successful. Passed by a lot of people on the uphil. On the downhill I went with quite strong guys, then the other guys from behind caught us and we developed a huge peloton. I felt like in Tour de France. We went on flat on average 45-50km/h.

I actually thought before that it is very uncomfortable to go very close in the peloton, but it was nice experience. It is much harder in rollerski races ...

On the next after Livigno Forcola pass I was not satisfied with the speed of the guys in our peloton. Few guys left peloton even before. I can feel very well my speed during climbing (mainly due to Marcharuz climbs), so I just went forward and went with my own pace which turned out to be quite fast. On the second 2328m Bernina pass, I overtook a lot! of people. Actually I was impressed how good I felt on climbs (that was the thing I was afraid of). On the downhill we went with another racer and we got to one more in few seconds.

Then on flat we went three of us changing from time-to-time. There was a peloton behind again, we decided to slow down and way for them. In peloton we went again 45-50km/h, so it was a good decision to wait. Actually, now, after some analysis, I understand that I should have started at least in line 1 instead of two and work very hard on the first uphill to stay with much stronger guys, stay in peloton with them in Livigno and do the best to stay close to them at Forcola/Bernina passes and then get back to  Zernez with them. It could've been much faster. Anyway, we reached Zernez and went to the second, much harder part.

I again felt very well on Fluelapass and peloton stayed behind. I took over some guys. Was a nice feeling climbing. On the top of Fluelapass I gave two bottles (water for bottle with powder) and cola (for empty by now bottle) - I had only one bottle filled with a drink at start. Downhill from Fuelapass was a bit unfortunate for me. Was tired, decided to have a nap :) It was fast and on one very sharp turn I felt that my rear wheel started to glide, I managed to handle this situation. However, in few turns it happened again and I fell from my bike. Seems as the first hit went on the head and then I landed with my shoulder and my pelvis. Today I feel very well these parts and my neck hurts. ALWAYS WEAR HELMET. It might have saved my life. The helmet is broken and I already bought a new one (race was yesterday!).

Anyway, the race continued. On the straight downhill my speed was 78km/h, my personal record! By Davos I was alone, nobody in front/nobody behind. I was a bit confused, thought that I might go wrong way somewhere. Then a small peloton reached me and I went with them. The weather in the beginning of the race was very good, then it started to rain, we went in rails and I was a bit afraid on the slippery downhill, but it was ok.

Afterwards, there was a long climb to Albulapass with small flat area after 1/3. The sun started to shine again. I felt good. Objectively the speed was slower than previous climbs but I felt good. Some food to add to my pockets and cola into the bottle. I ran out of power-gels by then. On the downhill I felt a bit scary and there was a small gap between me and 3 people in front. Then just before the final flat road to Zernez I was blocked a bit by a truck and the gap turned into 100m. I was pushing 50km/h but the gap was only increasing, I had to slow down. Too bad ... Then I noticed a guy not far behind. I waited for him and we went together constantly changing. Speed was much faster then when I was alone.

We came together to the finish line. I think I could've beaten him in sprint, but I did not care. I felt as a small team in the last half-an-hour. I did not put any effort into sprint trying to finish in line with him, but lost 0.1 second :)

loved the race, road cycling is cool, very happy with my result!

Full results are here