Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Kitzalp Bike Marathon, Kirchberg, Austria

The day after the World Marathon Champs we drove from Montebelluna, Italy to Kirchberg, Austria - well I say 'we', but I just chilled out in the passenger seat while Dave drove ;) We were sad to leave Montebelluna and the lovely singletrails but it was really nice to be in the Austrian mountains.

The next day we went for a gentle ride in the valley; however my legs were still tired from the World Champs and I found it tough even to just spin! We got a map of the marathon course from the very helpful guys at the Bike Academy so the next day we rode the first climb to the top of the Guggenkogele at 1750 metres. The majority of the climb had a nice gradient and my legs felt good; the last part however kicked up very steeply on grass and it was a real battle to keep the pedals turning! At the top the view of the valley below and the neighbouring mountains was really breathtaking. Fortunately I'd made it up a long time before Dave so I was able to spend time admiring the view and watching him push his bike up ;) The descent back down was fast and fun, and included some steep, loose singletrails. 

The following day the sunshine gave way to rain and the temperature dropped from over 30 to less than 10 degrees; we ordered hot chocolate rather than ice cream that day at the cafe! The clouds were low and the tops of the mountains were hidden, they stayed hidden until the day before the race. Thankfully there was no rain on race day but it was cold; I used arm warmers and a gillet - sunscreen was not necessary! 

During the race I felt strong on the first climb, reaching the top with a lead of more than 3 minutes ahead of Jane Nussli. On the second climb however I felt awful and I started to get blurred vision, which spooked me. The next steep, rocky singletrail descent was fairly technical and I had trouble seeing where I was going! My vision returned to normal on the next climb, but my legs felt heavy. On a steep hike-a-bike section I could see that Jane had closed the gap to less than a minute. I had to dig really deep for the next 3 hours to maintain my lead. It was tough and I was relieved and very tired when I crossed the finish line after nearly 6 hours of racing.

It was a really successful day for Topeak-Ergon Racing Team: Alban Lakata won the men’s race and Robert Mennen finished in 2nd place. Two wins and a second place in the first round of the UCI Marathon Series, it couldn't be better :D

Sally Bigham (GBr)        5:48:05
Jane Nussli (Sui)           0:02:00
Elena Giacomuzzi (Ita)  0:12:50

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