(English) Trofeul Comitatului Hunedoara, 80km, 2900 denivelation: 1st place

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Well, after not finding any confirmation on my improving shape in the singletrack marathon, it was time to go for another test 2 weeks later. This time, I had found a nice challenge in Romania, in Deva. As I couldn’t remember ever exploring this area, (oioi, old people forget a lot…) I made a plan with Marci Blazso to go together to this event. Racing with Marci is always good and for sure it would tell me how much more progress I would need to make + to explore a new area in the most beautiful time of the year, autumn, I had to do it! But, in the week before the race, Marci had gotten a cold and so, especially for me J, he had to fight on only 90-95% of his normal shape… Perfect! This way, maybe, we would have a nice fight once again!

After a long ride, we arrived at 20.30 in Deva and we tried to register. Although the registration was normally already closed, we were welcomed by super nice people and within 5min, all was arranged. Time to look for our Hotel, a good dinner and a short sleep. With the timedifference of 1hr, it was perfect for me being an early bird and so, we jumped out of the beds at 7 (=6) to take a relaxed long breakfast. After that, we went to the start. As it is the end of the season, the atmosphere is different. Everybody is more relaxed and so it was even hard to push ourselves to go for a little warming up spinning. At 10, we rolled to the main square and from here we went to the real start, under the castle. 10.05, time to start the suffering! Up, up, up, a good way to feel the shape right away. I felt ok and so I took the lead. I heard Marci having trouble breathing and indeed, he was suffering. So, being a racer, I took a strong pace, and after 30min, he told me I could go, that he didn’t feel too good, but, being scared to get lost + to get in physical troubles like the weeks before, I decided to go just a little slower and to stay with him. It was the best choice as we needed 4 eyes from time to time to find the trails in the autumnforest. With all the colors, it was hard to see the red and white tape. But, we were concentrated and it went perfect. After 1.5hrs, I realized our averages were low and that this was going to be a tough race. And sure, that scared me! So, I asked Marci to come to the front to help a little and as expected, this also gave him hope for winning. I think his breathing became better now completely warmed up and so, we worked together now through the ever changing landscapes. From steep forest over high open fields with magnificent views all the way to the carpates to small valleys and through remote villages: great! We enjoyed it and relaxed as no one was planning to attack the other. But, sure, it’s a race and we are both racers not afraid to suffer a little. So, when we reached km 65, we were at the bottom of the mountains and I expected a long climb. I knew this suited me best and so I started my attack, gradually going faster and faster, but Marci is strong and, although he was suffering to the limit, he didn’t let go. I didn’t know how many more climbs would come and so I wasn’t ready for a suicide attack… After the long climb, we finally made a mistake and so we had to turn around, up again. Now, I saw the body language of Marci and I realized the attack had hurted him and so I had to go again, on every small or bigger climb, I pushed hard. Finally, I saw the castle of Deva and so I realized we were close to the finish and I went even harder. But, even uphill, orienting was hard (and when you suffer, you don’t see that well J ), so I missed a turn left steep up. I hard to stop, turn around and start with a wrong gear on an impossible hill, so I decided to run it up. Marci has better gears and saw the line in time and so he drove it up (respect!!) I knew I could recover running while it would all the energy to drive it and so I decided to sprint away when I jumped on the bike on the top. And yes, I could take some distance!! Now, we were on a nice single, even a small tunnel and a final descent to the asphalt road where we started. When I arrived on the road, a lot of people stood there cheering, but no one told me right or left and so I lost some seconds, but with the finish only 300m further down the hill, there was nothing Marci could do and I won.

It was great! I enjoyed the whole trip! Good company, beautiful tough track with damned hard climbs! Spectacular views and even a good fight thanks to Marci’s cold. What can an adventure racer ask more?
After studying the power output on Blazso’s powermeter, I think I am getting close to my shape, will need another 5%, but that’s already a realistic number and with the end of the season, it means I have all winter to find that good shape and power back…

Thanks a lot Marci for the great company and for giving me a good fight, I need it! Thanks to the organizers for making all the efforts in making such a nice race. A shame that the Romanian federation suddenly had put the national championship xcm on the day before this race, so not a lot of Romanian riders made it to this event, but, let’s hope we can do it again next year!!
See you next week for the last marathon on the beautiful north side of Balaton,
Wouter

deva