Sunday, June 09, 2013

SwissiTP Aare Rhein Classics - Day 1 (GBF13)

Some time ago while planning the trip Ben found that this race he liked last year was just at the beginning of the week we were looking for our upcoming week of riding. Great, a quick look at it and agreed -- let's do this! A little some thing new -- 1st race in Europe for Py scheduled!

So Py signed up online for the SwissiTP Aare Rhein Classics heavy:
Renndistanz: 2 Runden á 15,0 km, 5 Runden á 10,1 km= 84,5 km

Interesting, no license needed! Only professional racers (UCI license holders or in the past 5 years) are not permitted. OK -- so that's some CAT12345 equivalent event in some way.

Finalizing flight dates, that's going to be tough and will be on a tight schedule as the only reasonable travel option turned out to be a same day arrival.

Leaving home with his bike in a travel case in the early Saturday afternoon. Heading to JFK for the LX14 (18:00) flight landing scheduled for 8:00 Sunday morning in ZRH/Zurich -- typically this flight is a bit early and Py landed by 7:37. A little delay at passport control as some unusual crowd appeared all at once.

Picking up luggage and bikebox with zero further dealys, rolling it over to the airport train station. Just missing one train of many going via Winterthur. OK. Time for a little breakfast -- Nussgipferl & Cappuccino. Taking the next train and arriving at about 9:15 in Winterthur where Ben was already waiting. Good and just in time. Driving to Gippingen -- about a good hour drive.

Contrary to all forecasts -- overcast sky in Zurich, no rain. And even better -- sunny and hot!! in Gippingen. Great!

Time is running... about 10:15. Race start by 11:30, staging by 11:10 or such.
Bike assembly while Ben picked up both numbers and race packages including a full kit (jersey and pants!) coming with the registration -- great deal!
Love it -- so relaxed, so easy, no signature, ID or what so ever needed, just the name(s) and good -- no even in person.
Bike assembled and checked, number pinned -- oh wait, need some more food... a banana and a cliff bar. In a hurry stuffing a few items in the jersey pockets.


Still need to fill up bottles, water at registration/bathrooms. Then a little riding around town to check out a few key positions, no time to do any of the laps. Then proceeding to the staging "Aufstellung" area. Topping off water again. Hot!
Here the bunch of racers, Py a few rows back with Ben on his right.

It's getting hot waiting in the sun! The race started 4 minutes delayed as we had to wait for the Postauto to pass.
The race started pretty much at full speed ahead out of the box. Hurting a little going from zero to 100 so fast, warming up slowly as race progresses moving speeds around 40 km/h -- the roads were fully closed and all space was used, need to watch for those road dividers...! OK. Heading up the first climb was not near limit but for a cold start pretty tough. In numbers about 300 +/-50 Watts needed for this 10 minute climb sitting back in the pack to conserve and get a chance to warm up some what.

Unfortunately Py was about  3 riders too far back as in some near U-turn around a very narrow "pinch" at the top a rider in front went down and hit the pavement -- so narrow that this bike blocked the whole way and a few seconds delay until he got up and going again... opened a way too big gap to be chased down by just a few riders left behind :-( Trying hard for a while -- but the following flat part, then downhill and a even longer flat gave us just not any chance to catch up.
Working with a small 3..4 rider group, a pointless chase attempt -- long lost sight -- then no more but riding to finish the race as good as possible. Second "big" lap done, then 1, 2, .. of the smaller 10k laps with a great climb, putting a little hurt on at about 3/4 to the top with a steep section. Great to have a good crowd of cheering spectators up there!!! Just adds a whole lot of fun and motivation :)
No place to recover or sit in. Hurting badly with big efford in 2nd but last lap following a big guy... little odd cramp at odd position on upper left leg, easing up for 2nd but last lap to go, getting lapped on the last climb... and finishing with one lap down. Wow, that was fun and tough the same time -- and a great new experience as well! Py never raced on completely closed roads with all space available, even those both lanes may be narrower than a single regular lane in the US! Also a fairly good crowd of spectators at several climbs and locations along the coarse :-)
Calls for more and better knowledge of the laps!

Great event -- some what calls for one more attempt in 2014 -- may be a bit more ideal preparation and eventually even lined up post some big riding with a little recovery and not just right out of the airport??

Then, short cool down ride with Ben. Packing up and driving to Bern.

What a "crash" start into some riding to come -- stay tuned for 6 more pending ride reports in preparation of the past week!

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