The hardest race

Oct 4, 2020

The penultimate rider crosses the finish line

Last weekend I participated for the first time in the Mesa Parts Trail Hype here in the deep south west of Germany in the Black Forest. I thought it would take me around three to four hours knowing that I’m not at my best at the moment. In reality it was much harder than I anticipated. In fact it might have been the hardest race I ever did.

The pure facts of the Trail Hype look like this: 69 km with 2400 meters of elevation in two laps. That’s hard but nothing I havn’t fone before. The Hero Dolomites with 86 km and 4500 meters of elevation I did in 2018 is considerably harder. But somehow I was already empty after around ten kilometers. Normally I’m one of the fastest uphill and I overtake people there. This time that only was the case on the first climb. After that I got overtaken uphill all the time. But - and that’s the only posotive insight from this race - I seem to have become faster on the downhills. Only two people overtook me downhill. Normally all the people I sacked on the uphill overtake me on the next downhill. Maybe my tire choice played a big role here.

After ten kilometers I thought about giving up after the first lap. At one point I was shure to give up. But then I thought I will go slow because I felt that I’m still somewhere in the middle of the field (as usual) so there is enough time to go a little bit easier. After one climb on the second lap I stopped to stretch my back which was hurting like never in a race before. Two racers overtook me there and after them an eBiker stopped next to me. He asked “Did you give up”? I answered with question marks in my eyes: “Nooo, whyyy?” “Because I’m the broom waggon.” Shiiit, I was the last rider. That was very unexpected and I felt a little pressure now although the guy calmed me down and told me I didn’t have to hurry for him. At this point I had still around 20 kilometers to go.

On the next downhill I overtook a really slow downhiller - could have been me after my collar bone fracture. Shortly after I overtook a fat bike rider that stood on the sideline with a cramp. He looked like he is about to give up. But after riding completely on my own for at least 10 kilometers he suddenly appeared behind me and even overtook me on the penultimate climb. I managed to stay more ore less on his wheel until the very last climb. This climb was not very steep and pretty consistent on a smooth and wide forest road. Apparently I had a little bit more left so I slowly overtook him and put about 100 meters in him before the last downhill. I was able to carry that distance to the finish line and that’s how I proudly became second last in the Trail Hype 2020.

Why was my performance that bad?

In retrospect, there are several reasons for my poor performance.

  1. My training this year was far from optimal. There were many breaks: moving in february and building a kitchen, tweo weeks vacation shortly afterwards, a broken bone in June, … I didn’t have a single week of structured training this year I believe. Also long efforts over 30 kilometres wre very rare this year.
  2. Another vacation only one week before the race. It was only one week off the bike, but it also was a week completely without any sport.
  3. A three days MTB tour to the highest point of Baden-Württemberg, the Feldberg, only tweo days before the race. I suppose those two days were not enough to recover properly. Especially because those three days were also pretty hard for me.
  4. I didn’t eat enough in the days before. Because of my tour and some relocation afterwards I didn’t find enough time to eat. I think I was not able to compensate the energy loss of the Feldberg tour.
  5. I only slept for three hours the night before the race. I didn’t sleep much before other races in the past but it was never so little. Some weeks ago I felt surprisingly good after multiple nights with nine hours of sleep. I suppose the opposite has also the opposite effect.

Looks like I did almost everything wrong I could. In summary I have to plan my races better. Not only orgnisation wise but also already in the weeks before to prepare my body for those kinds of efforts.

How will I go on from here?

Although it was a new experience for me to almost get last in a race or even not make it in time it was not the end of the world for me. I’m an amateur and those things can happen. but of course I want to make sure it will never happen in the future again. The feeling of no energy during a race is the worst.

For now I will recover. I will do easy fun rides and work on my technical skills on the trails. Some time in October I will start again with structured training and weeks and weeks of endurance rides to build up my form from the ground. Until christmas there shouldn’t be any interruptions. And then lets see year which races I will do next season.