Kosice Singletrack Marathon

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Ram Bikes

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After the finish in Slovensky Raj 2 weeks ago, I heard about this race and already the name got me interested! So, the plan was on, to hope to improve my leg-balance and to give it a second test in Kosice. But of course, as 2015 hasn’t been my year, apparently it ain’t over yet, I got sick on Wednesday… I stayed home with huge headache, pain in ears, throat, no energy to move at all. So, there went my idea, or not??

Well, I am learning a lot of lessons this year and somehow I start to realize all the mistakes I’ve been making for the past 15years, but it seemed that to ride or not in a half-sick state would be a lesson I would save for 2016. I really wanted to go, looked forward to it and so I decided to take a maximum rest and just give it a shot. My only activity was a small testride on the road on Friday to see if the plan was realistic or just suicide, but, although I had pain in my head, I could spin nicely…

Saterdaymorning, 5 o clock, time to get out of bed and to jump in the car. I was tired and not very focused, but with a perfect road all the way to Kosice, it was fine. Just when I arrived, a huge rain started to come down, hmm, not really what I need with my sickness, but the temperatures were ok and so I guessed that, even if we would get soaked, we wouldn’t get cold (took a long rainjack in my pocket just in case..)

10.00, time to hurt myself… The start was straight up into a short but steep uphill and so I immediately got into the troubles-zone… I decided to concentrate on my feeling and so I was in 10th position. When the climb really started, I was happy to move to the first group and the pace was perfect till… Karel decided it was time to make the race harder. Nobody reacted at first, but then Peter also accelerated and tried to jump to Hartl. I doubted some seconds, but hey, it’s a race, I will suffer anyway, better do it faster J. I could ride to Peter but I saw my pulse was too high… We stayed together and in the first decsent, we closed the gap to Karel. Just before the second part of the descent, we both jumped in front of Karel and we could even take some distance. Oh, great, I realized I felt confident again on the descents and I was ready to go fast! In the next climbs, we were 3 again, but in the following technical single, I got away. When we passed the finish and the parking, I started doubting if I was on the right track and so I waited for Peter. Together we continued and it was paradise! Great singles and with a loud jiiihaaaa we flew through it. After minutes of flowy trails, we jumped out of the forest for a couple of seconds to jump straight back to the trails. But, no more Peter?? I was wondering what happened, but nothing I could do then to ride on.. Only 2kms further, I suddenly noticed no more lints in the forest and I could see more trails left and right? Hmm… In this case, there is a choice: you can gamble that you are on the right track and go on, or you can take the secure way and turn around. I turned around, stopped Peter and went back together to the last lint. The moment we were studying this, the next group arrived and they were some local guys screaming “this is the way, follow us” and so we did. Apparently, I would have been on the right track L but I rather lose 1-2 minutes than a race…

So, back together with 7 guys after working so hard for 1hrL. But in the next climb, we pulled away and 4 of us were left. Together we enjoyed the great track and it started to rain, making the trails even more interesting! I loved it! On km 33, I had to stop to fill my 2*750ml bottles and once again, instead of being in front of the guys, I could now chase them… I also realized I started to feel my legs on strange places + my back was hurting and so, instead of attacking on the trails, I now just relaxed and followed my 3 collegues. At km 40-45, there was a split between the Rapid and the Yeti track and so, we lost one of us, getting us back to our original 3. Karel was super strong and attacked in every climb, but he wasn’t technical enough in the descents, so I could always get back but basically it was the same scenario as 2 weeks ago: Peter and Karel were stronger and were playing with eachother in every climb, I was on damage control giving it all on the descents and staying close. At km 57, they were still less than a minute away, but I had to make my second and last waterstop of the day, costing me again another minute. In the next and last long descent, I got back within 1 minute, but there was no way for me to close the final gap. Now, the track changed into more easy, more asphalt, but I wasn’t going to complain J. This way, the end was coming closer and so also the end to my suffering… When I jumped on one of the last trails, the conditions had changed again after a short tropical thunder storm- rain. It was extremely slippery and I guess this must have also surprised Karel as he was standing in the side with a flat tire. Unfortunate for him, but this way I was sure I could ease down. No way to catch Peter, and surely I wouldn’t lose 3 minutes on Karel by slowing a little.

So, 2nd place again, but should have been 3rd… Happy? Hmm, well, I can’t jump to any conclusions on lack of progression etc, as racing after/in sickness isn’t really showing the truth + somehow I had extreme pain in my back. By now, I noticed that my saddle must have moved / got damaged in my Belgian crash and so I’ll have to study how to fix this before the next adventure…

Another great day in Slovakia, thanks to the organization for a splendid day in the nature, see you around soon,

Wouter