Kicking off my final three week block of races was the fifth round of the German Bundesliga XC series this past weekend. The course was set around a quarry in the small town of Ortenberg just north of Frankfurt. As a C2 classification race and a round of the German national series, the race had a few top riders including the German National Champion. After a not so splendid end to my adventures at the Vaude Trans Schwarzwald stage race, I was looking forward to getting back into some XC racing and letting rip for 1:30hrs.
Full gas in Ortenburg
The course turned out to be pretty cool, thankfully, as it can be a lottery picking a new race to attend. A fast but tough climb, took us up, and a tight-and-twisty singletrack descent brought us down. Pretty standard but it was a really nice combo of open and closed passing sections that made for cool racing. I’ve said cool twice now which is amusing given how this story ends …
I always struggle writing about how XCO races pan out. I must admit my mind wanders during longer races and I start thinking, “I wonder what I’ll write about in my race report.” But in XCO there is no time for any mental wandering! It’s all full gas. For this race I had even more pressing mental obligations than usual. The course might have been cool but the temperature certainly wasn’t. Pre-race I knew it was going to get up around 35°C but being Australian I thought I would be fine even though it’s not exactly hot at home. Wishful thinking… During the ‘warm up’, 35°C stopped being a number and started being the oppressive heat it that truly is.
Our pre-race cooling strategy took a bit of a hit with a mix-up of feed zones that meant Dad had to leave early to get to the top of the quarry and to feed zone 1, but again, I should be alright, I’m Australian. The opening sequence of the race went surprisingly well and I made it to second wheel behind the German Champ and hovered around the top 3 up to the first feed zone. This was a welcome change from the gun firing and me feeling like I’m standing still, which has happened at the last few races.
I didn’t feel I was pushing too hard but towards the top of the climb everything went dead. My legs locked and I could hardly pedal. Losing a lot of places, I crossed the line on the first lap in 17th, which dropped to 34th by the third lap as I continued around with dead legs. I felt like I was cooking and even had to stop in the feed zone to take two bottles on one lap as I was so thirsty. It wasn’t that I failed to drink as I was downing a full bottle every 10 min lap.
I wasn’t the only one feeling the heat though as a few people DNF’d and on the last lap I closed in on some guys who had passed me earlier. Somehow I pushed the pace and passed one guy and posted my second fastest lap which put me into lowly 27th after 1:49hr of racing. Usually this is where my story would end, but there was more drama to come. After trying to cool down, that included a swim in the river, we headed back home. I had a quick shower, then laid down on my bed and didn’t get up for about 1:30hrs. Curled up in the foetal position unable to eat or drink I thought I might be in a spot of bother.
I was pretty out of it so we trundled down to the Krankenhaus/hospital to see if they could fix me. Thankfully it was ‘just’ heat exhaustion and after stabbing my arm and filling me with liquid stuff I was somewhat all good.
☀️ – Yesterday race was fun! – Started well in top 5 up the first climb then towards the top everything switched off and I could hardly pedal – Struggled around for another 1:45hr in 35 degree heat – Ended up in the ER with heat exhaustion – Funny the Australian is the one to overheat though Hopefully I’ll have one race that goes smoothly this year #ortenberg #Bundesliga
So lesson learnt in regards to heat exhaustion, but I’m still annoyed that I couldn’t race freely. Although considering heat exhaustion isn’t all that great I’m lucky it wasn’t worse. I’ll be taking it easy this week and hopefully I can still race at least one of my next two races. The next race this weekend is a small local C3 XC here in Germany and after that it’s back to the mountains of Austria for one of their national rounds. I’m looking forward to that one! Thanks for reading!