Monday, 18 August 2014

Eiger Bike - Swiss Marathon Champs

Post holiday it was time for another race.  Time to put all that road work behind me and back to the serious stuff.  Always one of those moments of how well has my training been going.  Especially when you have not really been following what your supposed to be doing and have just been doing it by feel.

The Eiger bike race this year was the Swiss National Marathon champs.  There were some big names there but once again I was too far back in the pack to see any of them.

To say that it was one of the nicest days riding of the year was an understatement.  There was a fresh round of snow above about 2800 metres and it was just on 4 degrees at the start.  Complete clear skies and the imposing north face of the Eiger as a back drop for the whole race.  I know it would warm up quickly over the day to start it was more or less straight up a big hill with 1000 metres of climbing before down a bit and then back up again.  The race course was 88km long with 3900 metres of climbing.

We got to start in one big group and I thought wow the big boys are taking it easy today.  Nice and relaxed start with heart rate in a good zone for me.  Wasn't long before that was all over.  Heart rate after about 5km was at full max and had a to back off that few percent to remain in control.  Tried to focus on staying with a woman but she rode away from me.  Turns out it was Ariane Kleinhans, last years Swiss champ and winner of a huge number of big races around the world.

Down the first hill and back up to First before going down some ultra steep trails on tarmac.  Narrow with lots of grip but oh so fast.  I was thinking it would be impossible to ride them back up the other way. Sure enough along came the steep bits to go back up.  Oh boy it was steep.  Smallest gear occasionally off the seat trying to keep the momentum going.  3-4 km long climb with extremely steep ramps in it of 22-26% at 200 metres long.  Small break and then repeat about 5 times with the gradient dropping slowly dropping towards the top.  However it went from tarmac to gravel before it was grass and I didn't see many ride the end bit.  Huge crowds were cheering everybody on and somehow I managed to stay on the bike and ride over the top.

Huge downhill after this for a big rest.  I was riding with two others and one of them was like a 14 year old kid.  Thought he was doing fairly well till I realised that he was doing a 20 km loop and I was already at over 45k.  All the guys around me were doing the shorter loops.  When we split it was a very lonely ride. All the way from 1000 metres high all the way back up to 2000 metres again.

Only a few riders around me and managed to pass quite a few on the climb.  I did have one steamroll past me at the top of the climb though.  The top of Kleine Scheidegg was a relief and the views were amazing.  Jungfrau on my left as I went through.  Two spectators were yelling Bravo, at me and I asked it they'd turned around and seen the view behind them.  Simply stunning.

The down was uneventful and I'm sure one maybe two riders came past me.  No big deal.  I knew I wasn't doing that bad and I'm not the fastest down hiller.  Something about age and fear I think.  I've also realised it's better to finish in one piece than die trying.

I finished in 13th place in class and 69th overall.  Very happy with this.  Such a dream day on the bike and the views just amazing.

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