Karsten Ruf, that is. Dear readers, I present you my first guest blogger!
This was my fifth race and I thought I had it all dialed. However, there were still a few things to learn, and they all had to do with rain.
I didn’t think of rain. Neither when I booked the hotel, back in January, nor when I packed my gear, the day before. The hotel was by far the cheapest, at about E42 per night, but it was located about 3km out the city center. No big deal, right? 3km, even when really tired, can easily be covered in about 10 minutes on a bike. Well, now I know that 3km seems like a huge distance to cover twice when you’re soaked to the bone and shivering uncontrollably.
My version of where we would have missed each other on the course: I agree that the second food stop is the most likely candidate. I had stopped there after a *very* careful decent (still having the scratch from last time fresh in my mind), and while I had my back turned to get my favourite Coke and water mixture, Gerry must have zipped by. The band played on as I snacked (never “stuffing my face”) on dried fruit and banana pieces and chocolate. I must have waited about 5 mins before I started to get cold and decided to carry on. I knew how slowly I had come down the col, and how fast Gerry can go, so he must have been close, either behind or ahead of me.
As it turned out, I had arrived just a few minutes after Gerry, but we had missed each other at the finish line. I texted him, fully expecting a quick response, since he should have finished before me, or at least right behind me. Ten minutes went by, then 15 minutes. No response. Did he crash, puncture, bonk badly? After about 20 minutes I couldn’t control the shivers anymore and went to get the “repas”, the meal traditionally served to all riders after the races.
The hall was packed with riders and mercifully warm. Still no message from Gerry. Half way through my meal I spotted Gerry carrying his tray. Waving my arms like someone shipwrecked trying to attract a passing ship, I managed to get his attention. To my surprise, he didn’t want to sit down opposite me, but first drop his tray off. Then I slowly realized that he had eaten already, sitting in the warm hall while I was shivering outside waiting for him, or at least a text message from him.
Ah, he didn’t even bring his phone. Back in the hotel he had mentioned battery problems with his iphone and that he wanted to save battery power. I had assumed for the race, silly me. Which brings me back to the topic of the hotel. It seemed inconceivable to me to ride back, soaking wet and cold, to change and then ride back just to get soaked again. So, my new resolve is to book the next hotel right at the finish line, so we’d have something dry to change into, right at hand, should it rain again. In fact, for my next race I have already checked with the organizers if I can leave a bag with a change of clothes at the finish line.
The other learning moment was about rain gear. I forgot stuff for the opposite ends: overbooties to protect my shoes, and a cycling cap with a brim to keep the spray (at least a little bit) off my face. While Gerry had issues getting the wheel spray up is nose, I tried not to swallow too much water, while gasping for air. My glasses had spray on both sides of the lens, were fogging up, and I could see less and less. Gerry had reported similar issues. Maybe the brim of the cap would have helped a bit. I never tried it, but if it works for Evans and Vino…
…it should work for me. Plus, it looks totally pro.
The booties were sorely missed, not because my feet were cold and wet, but because my shoes were wet and heavy. They must have doubled in weight and towards the end it felt like riding in ski boots.
The one thing that did work for me was wearing short finger gloves instead of full gloves. They got soaking wet right away, but my fingers didn’t get cold. I think full gloves would have been worse.
So, it was a good race: I’m happy with my time and average speed, and I gained some valuable experience.