Eplény Bike Fest: 2 days of fun, 1 xcm + 1 xco: I am back ;)
2 Races in 2 days? Great!! First a marathon and then the next day a x-country? It’s a little bit in a strange order, but why not? 2 is always better then 1 J. So, last weekend the place to be was the area around Eplény. In this nicely located town there is a small ski-station and yep, if you can ski there, then for sure you must have some interesting trail options…
Saturday, XCM 72km 1500hm
After finding the –almost- complete Alpinbike team in the rental house in Epleny, I quickly changed into the ridingoutfit, took my bike from the garage (thanks Dani!!) and we warmed up on the way to the start. Quick registration (thanks again Veronika for always saving my ass… ) and time for some small sprints with Dani and Viktor to check the legs… Hola! Well, what is this? For the first time since I am back from Japan, my HF is reacting normal going up high and recovering fast down. Super! That’s already a good sign!! Another good thing: I would be doing the first “fieldtest”on a new prototype carbon hardtailframe from RAM. And yep, testing is also part of my “job”and I have to admit: it’s the best job I can imagine J. As I had built the bike on thursdaynight, I could only hope I did it correct and that I had found the good position for bar-saddle etc..
10.30, time to get going.. As usual, Búr didn’t wait and put us straight on a strong rhythm. Within a couple of minutes, we were only 5 left. Now, all of a sudden, we arrived at big mudpools and some of us crashed-got stuck. I was lucky to get through and when I looked back, I realized we were only 3 left: Búr, Marci and me. Working together with these guys is easy, everyone is always willing to work and so no communication is needed, it works like a machine! By now, we arrived at the first real climb and I really wanted to test my bike and my shape so I pushed hard. Wooow man, it felt great! The bike reacted perfectly, position was top and my body only wanted to go faster! But, I had to be careful not to be too enthusiastic and to commit suicide here ;). Tomorrow was also on my mind and so I tried not to overdo it. We lost Búr, but also Marci was slowing down. Was I good? Was it the bike? Or was everybody thinking for the xc race? I didn’t know, but it felt great. After 40km, I noticed Marci was getting nervous, constantly checking out his bike. I heard some noises coming from it and so I asked what the problem was. He told me he had a slow puncture and that he would go easy, trying to survive to the finish. And so I was alone. Is that bad? No, surely not! No stress and more time to enjoy the lovely scenery, the waterfalls etc. Fun slippery descents, but also long –little boring- asphalt stretches. But hey, this way, it only took 2hrs43min to reach the finish and this ment more time for the legs to recover for the Sundays torturing J. My apologies to the organization for not waiting for the podium, but I was required at home as a husband and father, my other job ;).
Sunday, 6 loops, 17km 1200hm
13.30, time to check out the loop, because I had heard great stories about it. Everybody was sure about 1 thing: it was steep, very steep! And so I had brought my smallest frontring -30- today for this race. When I started the loop, it only took me 30sec to realize that it was true, today would be suffering day J. And after a couple of minutes, I understood that those first 30sec were perhaps the easiest, waaaaw, a real powerloop! Even going easy was pushing myself to the limits! So happy I had the 30ring and I prayed I would have the power to survive this loop 6 times!!
14.00 Time to work. I started a little bad, was pushed away in the turns and was in 7th-8th position, but no stress: with all these climbs, there would be time enough to make a pass. On the first part, I could get back to 5th, but I was also passed by a bullet: one of the Slovakians was sprinting up like it was flat, incredible!! But, no panic, I was watching Búr and Marci and I stayed close enough. By now, we got into a small recoverypart and on the next steep climb on the skislope I got to 4th. Here, we jumped into the most extreme technical climb and it was this kind of a “just possible-just impossible” climb. The Slovakian was leading now, Marci 2nd, Búr 3rd and me in 4th. In the last part of the descent both the Slovakian and Búr made some small mistakes, getting me to 3rd. In the second loop, we all stayed together, but in the most difficult turn of the descent (the last switchback in the forest), the Slovakian crashed in front of me, slowing Búr and me down as we had to stop to pass the guy. Marci had a small gap and I pushed a little harder to close it. Now, we were 2 with some seconds to the others and Marci was pulling a nice tempo. I stayed behind him, but at the start of the crazy technical climb, something happened when he shifted down and I passed him. I had already felt in the previous laps that I had more speed (well, …. Wasn’t fast ;) ) in this section and so I went to full power taking 6 seconds on him. After this came the descent and I concentrated well on keeping those seconds because I know Marci has a great technique… In the 4th loop I decided to keep pushing to open up the gap and it worked. Waaw, my legs felt good, the new bike reacted great, both for the climbs as in the descents. The geometry is not identical to my aluminium xc1 frame, but still, it felt like I had been riding this bike all year, worked super! In the start of the 5th loop, I looked back and realized I could slow down a little and control the race. I enjoyed the loop very much and had good fun on the longer descents, what a day! When everything is going well, you even don’t feel the pain in the muscles, you think you can fly and so I finished the last loop with a big smile!! I also want to thank Gergo for always helping me in the races by giving me fresh High5bottles, keeping my clothes etc! It really makes a difference!
So, Epleny bike fest was good to me! The weather was good during the 2 races, I had enjoying 2 very different races to the maximum and I think I saw a lot of smily faces around, so I think: big bravo to the organizer for making these races for big and small + a testday on Sunday for everybody who wanted to check out the new stuff! Thanks!!