Having spent the last ten years honing my skills in the Colorado racing scene, I have raced some very fast, strong riders. It seemed like all of those experiences/ skills where lost on Saturday when I took to the line at round one of the MTB Bundesliga in Muessingen.
Foul spring weather had been soaking the course all week like most of Germany, so in my pre-ride, my bike doubled its weight in mud. The course was crazy slippery, riddled with roots and rocks, tight twisting sections and some steep climbs. It felt great to be back after a sabbatical last season from racing.
After being called up to the line, I took position behind the German National Masters Champion, someone who obviously doesn't have a day job due to his ultra-fit appearance, and dark tanned skin probably courtesy of some training in Mallorca or the Canary Isles. Did I mention he has a PRO German Champion kit from the Dolphin Trek squad???
From the gun it was 100% on the gas, f-ing fast. We slammed into the first major obstacle of the race, a 100 meter run up, and I was going backwards fast. I was thing of Greg as this would be something he would enjoy. At the top we hit a half-kilometer pave section that saw us draw out in a long drafting line. The speed on display was mind blowing, these guys were FAST! Once we hit the woods, I was moving back in the right direction, but I could feel the legs weren't there for any serious contention, so I set out for a descent finish, or atleast to finish.
I plugged along each lap, my victory was in being able to clean most of the sections on the course while everyone else was portaging their rides. I even threw a couple of cross-ups over the doubles back down in the mtb park in the race village. On the pre-ulitmate lap things went really wrong. I lesser-skilled rider tried an impossible pass to my inside, losing control. The consequences sent me hard over the bars. While trying to get my breath back Paramedics attended to me. I saw blood, and couldn't feel my left hand. After the leaders made their way by I was able to get to my feet, but it was long over. I limped back to the the base area, and retired my number.
It was not to be, but I still enjoyed the experience and look forward to future races. My homework is clear, speed over here is the trump card, something I didn't need in my vertically challenging world of Colorado. I am training with a local road pro, he will surely help lead me to the promise land and I look forward to round 2.