Обиколка на Витоша 2014

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Ram Bikes

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Tour de Vitosha 2014: 96.6km, 2100hm, result: unknown….

Well, it seemed some people still liked me in Bulgaria ;) and so I was asked to come for the biggest race of the year: TDV or Tour De Vitosha. Also, people in Macedonia hadn’t forgotten me and I was also invited to their biggest marathon in Mavrovo. Hmm, one race on Saturday and another one on Sunday? Yeah, that seems crazy enough!! So, I found 2 friends from the Alpinbiketeam, Dani and Veronika, who wanted to join me in the search for adventure. And adventure it would be, perhaps even a little too much…

Saturday-morning, 4 o clock, time to wake up as the race was starting at 5. Yep, 5, because I live now in Budapest and that’s in a different timezone. So, if 6 wasn’t bad enough, we would do worse this time ;). Anyway, 4 o clock, putting on clothes and trying to eat something, not so easy at this time… 30min later, we walk to the maxcom bikeshop, the usual meetingpoint before the TDV. Luckily, they also have a super coffee machine and so finally, my body woke up. 4.45, rolling to the start. 5.00, there we go! As in the previous year, the start was going easy. It’s too early for everybody and so we all prefered to use the first kms to wake up, have a chat, warm up,… Then, when we entered the dirt roads, the speed went up and the race starts. As I had heard about changes in this year’s track, I had made a decision not to attack till Iarema. This way, I would minimize the chance to get lost and I would be able to save some power for the Sunday race… Well, I should have done this more often, because for the first time the TDV felt like a real tour! Talking with Todor and Vasko, safe descents, great! A couple of kms further, we arrived at the steepest climb of the day. This used to be the place where I always jumped away, but now I stayed behind Todor. Just before the switchback, I decided to pass to get a clear line. When I looked back at the bridge, I saw them 5-10m behind. Now, it would be 40min of easy trails and so I preferred to stay in this 1st position. This way, you can choose the line, no braking, just surfing… When I jumped to the road in Kladnitsa, I noticed the other 2 weren’t following anymore. So, I made a stop in the village next to the jeep from mountainrescue. There used to be a waterpoint here, but now was only a jeep. The guys were super helpful and they took some water from the trunk to fill my bidon. When I continued, I saw a big super equipped waterpoint 500m further, aaaahhh. But ok, I had everything and I continued. Within some minutes, I was rolling down to the lake and I had expected some mud there, but it was fine. On the small climbs where I used to push hard, I went smooth and I arrived at the second waterpoint. A quick hello, some water and time to go. Now followed the climb to Bosnek and Chuipetlovo, for me to worst part of the day. I stopped to lube the chain and kept a steady pace to the first timecheck. From here, it would be more fun, into the forest and the trails again. Signs were better than ever, I loved to do this road again! On the top I had a great view on the snowy Rila mountains and with a smile I flew down direction Iarlovo. Hmm, so, against the plan, I was ahead and now would come the change to the track. Although Boyko’s brother, Yanko, was waiting me in Iarema with 2 fresh bottles of Hi5 drink, I decided to make the stop in iarlovo and to fill up to 1l of water. Out of experience, I just knew that now I would have a 50/50 chance to get lost and I also learned that if you get lost, you better do it with enough drinks and food… And so the adventure started… I had heard that the track would change after the first rivercrossing and so it did. The whole day, signs had been perfect, and so also here! As it is a change, the organization had made efforts to put more than enough lints to show us the new direction. So far, so good. It was a nice dry jeeptrack up and I felt confident. I was now paying double attention, but sign were always there (perhaps a little more would have been good for the confidence). After a while, I arrived at a hut. Again, really a lot of signs to show the change of direction and hop, back to a steep jeeptrack. I liked the climb, but I didn’t see any signs anymore? Aiaiaiai, there we go… 2km further and 200hm up, I came to a split with nothing and the logical right side was a dead end! So, game over… I turned back, planning to find whatever sign I had missed, but I was out of the race-mode and not too concentrated. And then it happened: my frontwheel slided away in some mud and I went down hard! I heard-felt a crack in my shoulder and the next moment, I couldn’t move my rightarm anymore L. I had to use my left hand to put my right hand on the bar to continue… Hmm, I was angry and concerned, this could be the end of the summer for me? Anyway, I continued further back and met Todor and Emo. I explained them that this was the wrong way, but finally we all went up again to see the dead end. Now, I decided to turn back the full distance to the hut where I had seen the last signs. I remembered that there were more options from there and so I had to check them. On the way down, I met 10-15 other riders, but most of them just continued, nobody wanted to turn back and lose time ;)… So, together with Toni from RAM-bikes, I checked the other roads at the hut. Result: no signs in any directions. Hmm, so , what to do? As everybody was going up, I put on the turbo for the first time this day to fly up. At the top, I joined the “walking-group”. 10 guys were walking into the forest with the bikes on the shoulder. But, then, the plan changed and we all got back to the end of the jeeptrack. Here we jumped over the river and went for a search of a trail in the good direction, being direction Yarema. After 10min, someone spotted a trail. We waited the others of our group and all went down the hill. The trail was nice, became jeeptrack and finally, it brought us to Iarema, hooraiiii! Here, most of the guys decided to go home. We had lost 25-40min (depending on position) and so they were disappointed and just wanted to go for a shower. As I had driven 770kms for this “race” (+ with the shoulder, I was almost sure this would be my last ride for a while) , I wanted to continue. And thinking about it all, I went to racing speed, to full 100%. The new part from Iarema to Plana also had some sign issues after the bridge, but I knew the area and so I found the asphalt road. From here, signs were perfect again and so I got to a furious speed. I never backed down again and I started catching other riders, motivating me even in going faster! At the switchbacks above Simeonovo, I catched Fyodor and in the last 8kms to the finish, I would even take 10min on him… When I finished ( I was the second place to reach the finish), I was angry. Not so much for the getting lost -you cannot be disappointed if you expect something- but I was angry with the world because of the stupid crash that could take away my passion for weeks. So, I want to apologize to all the people at the finish for not being too positive J. I just wanted ice on the shoulder and to get to the hospital. Really sorry I could not be more of a gentleman, but I guess other sportsmen can understand my troubled mind… Just before heading to the hotel, I asked Christo (the first) how he managed to find what I (and all others) hadn’t been able to find. His answer: he followed the old track to Iarema because there were no changed up till there??? But what about the 20 good signs on the first rivercrossing showing us the new track to the left instead of the old right???? No answer there?? Strange, but it was a strange day ;). So, what was my result? What would happen now? Well, I leave it to the organization to decide that. Most important: I got to ride the tour, I found adventure, we had a good time walking in the forest with the familiar group of crazy riders, so, was fun J. Only crashing ruined it, but that was my fault… For the organization: well, only good things I think. New chip time measurement, more professional waterpoints, great atmosphere, better (close to perfect) signs, I think big improvements again compared to 2013, way to go!! For the missing signs, well, I heard this was sabotage and this was a (shamefull) first time for the TDV. It’s something you, as an organizer, cannot do too much against… Perhaps to send a motorbike before the first person with extra signs in his backpack. If and when he spots problems, he can guide the racers in the good direction and solve the problem quickly, after that he can use the motorbike to get in front again… It’s the way it is done in most of the races…

About my arm-shoulder: After doctor and hospital, It seemed that my arm had popped out of the shoulder because of the crash. It was back in good position and no bones were broken, but the tendons and soft tissue could be damaged. To know this, we needed nmr-mri scan, but the machine in the hospital was broken and so I would have to get it at home… Now, writing this report, I am still in pain and things don’t look too good, need to find the machine to have it checked, hopefully this week…

Ciao, Wouter