Today was, in a nutshell, BRUTAL!
Due to our unfortunate Day 2 (Naomi’s muddy eyeball) we start each day in the mad house that is ‘Pen B’. Why is it a madhouse? Well simply put you have a serious mix of fitness capability, competitiveness and technical skill. This all culminates in a furious attack of the first kilometer that gives new meaning to ‘anything goes’! Riders are scrambling to get a clear line, chopping, hacking, running out of gas, shoving, its like a unidirectional MTB demolition derby. Stressful, but thankfully, for those of us with a big pair of lungs, over as quickly as it begins as the road pitches upward.
On paper today looked set to be tough, straight up, straight down, back up, then innumerable crocodile back rises and falls that tested the patience as well as the energy reserves. 67km total mileage seemed laughable when you looked at the Garmin to see 3:30hrs 41km! We were crawling! The hardest part of the profile was the lack of recovery, it felt like you needed to work for everything, you go for a gel and the bike loses all momentum, so frustrating.
Pacing in a mixed team is part ego management and part logical race brain, as Naomi grabs a pocket tow part of me is going, ‘you are MAN you must drag feeble woman at great speed, she will be very impressed’ and the other semi rational side is going ‘you are in a stupid gear stupid, set a good tempo, be patient, find a rythem, I hope I can keep this going!’. I’m constantly reminded of how killer my race partner is, in moments of frustration all I hear is some indesciferable Australian abuse and the tempo doesn’t falter, diesel, diesel, diesel!
Naomi and I tend to start harder than we probably sould for fear of getting stuck behind squadrons of nervous descenders, we do manage to get through most of the single track relatively unscathed but of course this year you need to expect the unexpected. ‘Hike and bike’, the most hated phrase in mountainbiking, arg, I was not a happy camper! All manner of colourful language was expelled as we battled our way inch by inch up vertical walls of muddy roots only to ride for five seconds and do it all again!
This seemed to be the theme of the day that stuck in my head but in all honesty today had everything, even a pause to let the local train go by! As we finally started descending the single track goodness just keep coming at us, I could have done the last run all day, had I not been 5 gels, 2 bars, 1 watermelon slice, 1 banana and 4 bottles down! It really took that much, we trucked along the final rising three kilometres, with the singular thought of ‘Please make it stop!’
We had pretty much done everything we could to make some decent headway towards the elusive top 5, we finished, checked out the standings, 9th! You know what, I’ll take it, huge respect to those further up the order, I’m not sure where they are finding the speed and skill but they thoroughly deserve it!
Only 2 more days than a well earned lie in, oh man, I could not want to see Riva More!
For full results: Datasport
For the hitters, this is pretty much how it went, in the Men it was a hotly fought battle with the top 4 teams being all of 1:30 minutes apart! 1. Team Scott took top honors with Franz Hofer and Daniele Mensi completing the tough day in 3:20 ahead of Centurian Vaude 1 and Centurian Vaude 2 edging out the Transalp veterans Team Bulls of Karl Platt and Urs Huber into 4th.
In the ladies it was a reshuffle of yesterdays result with the ever strong Team Nakita Powermums being held to 2nd by Crazy Velo Shop Scott’s Cornelia Hug and Andrea Fassler powering home in 4:30hrs, Mountain Heroes Damen taking 3rd with Sarah Bosch and Daniele Troesch.
Big fat shouts to ‘Iron’ Sally Bigham and Ben Thomas, commanding the Mixed with a finish of 3:55hrs ahead of Team Herzlichst Zypern I and Mountain Heroes Mixed Daniel Jung and Kristin Aamodt, top riding guys!!