Stage 4 Bardo to Walim, 44.2 kilometres
With plenty of rain from the award ceremony onwards, Stage 4 would be wet. And it wasn’t a case of the water just coming up from the ground, it was falling from the sky as well. This race has a jovial vibe, people are having fun. They are racing hard, but just having a ball riding their mountain bikes. This morning, that shine was missing. Probably due to a combination of tiredness from the previous days, and the weather, but it was a shift in the mood. The start was fast anyway, as it was along the fast flowing river before heading onto forest roads. These were gravelled for perhaps the first kilometre, before giving way to a lot of soft mud. This made up a lot of the first half of the day, with a gentle gradient, soft ground, and rain. The latter half was chock full of steep technical climbs and sharp descents. Roots were everywhere, as were big rocks, and towards the end of the stage the final climb was flowing like a stream. It was very wet. This also influenced the results, and there were a lot of Danish riders on various podiums. They are more used to mud, we’re told. Full results can be found online.
Imogen and I were consistently out climbing many of those around us on the technical climbs, perhaps due to a slower start, but it was still a high point. Given their steep, wet, muddy and rooty nature the climbs were satisfying to clean. But, nothing can beat the high of being dropped off at four star hotel for the evening, having a long hot shower and finally getting clean and warm after such a long time in the mud. Ending up 3rd again and consolidating 3rd on GC was a very unexpected bonus.
Right while topping out for the last climb I’d let myself get too cold. Despite riding with a jacket in my pocket, I hadn’t reached to put it on. This caught up with me on the final steep descent, as I was all over the bike. Once I pulled my jacket on I was better, but it took a long time to warm up from a whole lot of shivering.
The internet says
Not that much… but I’ve heard from race organiser Grzegorz Golonko that as Warim was part of Germany until 1945, munitions were being made in underground factories in the hills nearby. These kept operating for months after the war was over – as no one was told to stop!
Surprise of the day/on a personal note
The beauty of the Polish mountains and countryside does not stop amazing me. Sure, we are racing through, but we are crossing some stunning land, with a very lived in history that I just want to know more about. Today we rode over an old bridge, before climbing up to a 16th century fort and racing along the overgrown outer moat wall (it’s just singletrack, but don’t look down).
The last day tomorrow is the longest, at close to 80km. And with about 2400m of climbing it won’t be easy. We have a lot of time on border trails and a lot of steep climbs. With the amount of water on the ground it will be slow going. But, we do get to finish in Kudowa Zdroj, a beautiful town close to the Czech border, where about half a ton of meat has been ordered for the finishing banquet!