Tara Hategului Stage Test Race

19 Jun

It’s even hard to start to write about this one. This was a test event, a friendly race, a preview for the next year “real” race. And overall was pretty fun. I am not used to marathons, not even mentioning that this was my very first stage “race”. It was also a great way to test myself, my gear, new products and how to act as a team. Talking about teams I had next to me Sorin Simu from Velocitas. He might not be the fastest out there but he has a good endurance -> Ride Lefty Team

Let’s start with the gear, setup and other information:

Bike: the usual Cannondale Scalpel-Si with the XCO preferences, 95psi and 2 tokens in the Lefty Ocho, 110psi in the rear shock.

Wheels: Tune BlackBurner Carbon, Schwalbe Thunder Burt Snake Skin 2.25, PTN Pepi’s Tire Noodle Race insert, 1.1 bar/fw, 1.2 bar/rw.

Extra: Maxalami K13, Maxalami Basic Tube, Hydration Backpack, Tube, RD hanger, chain quick link, Garmin Edge 1030 with preloaded stages, GripGrab Custom Pink Racing Gloves and the new BioRacer kit.

First Stage: I’ve missed here because some family things I had to deal with, but as it wasn’t a timed race it didn’t really matter.

Second Stage: 51 km / 4:06h / 2000m elevation gain, temp. 18C-36C

I didn’t knew what to expect so I tried my best. Right from the begining I started to push (literally) from behind my team mate Sorin in order to keep as close as possible as long as possible with the front group. Then we tried to keep a constant rhythm. We’ve stopped at every hydration point. On the last big descent I’ve hit a pretty sharp rock with the rear wheel and cut a bit the tire. The sealant couldn’t fill it so I’ve stopped, used the Maxalami kit and put some air in it and went back. Everything in less than a minute. Once we’ve finished the mountain part we were hit by the heat: 36C. That hurt a lot but we’ve finished 4th overall. I had 5 liters of water, 0.6L of isotonic and 0.7L of cola.

Stage three: 81km / 6:41h / 2500m elevation gain / temp. 13C-32C

It all started as a sunny dry ride with steeper climbs, longer descents, gravel dusty roads. Then the rain came. In a valley we had both some issues with the marking, with the GPS devices and we’ve lost about 18 minutes there. Then we had deep mud a flooded river with water over the knees, passing there about 10 times. The motivation was lost over there in the river. At the last feed zone I’ve stopper for some cookies and more cola and then it all came back but it was a bit too late. Sorin was also tired, the chains were screaming because of the dirt inside so we took as an easy ride. 4L of water 0.6L of isotonic and again around 0.5L of cola. 6th in the end.

Stage four: the grand finale. 41km / 2:35h / 1245m elevation gain / temp. 16C-24C

It rained pretty much in the area the night before so we’ve took the longer but cleaner way, with a tarmac zone. Then main climb started: 1200m of climbing out of 1245m. It was pretty much insane. Sorin wasn’t feeling pretty good so I tried to push him as much as possible especially in the zones where he couldn’t find a pace. Pretty close to the top I’ve stopped to refuel and to take a gel, he didn’t so we won some seconds. Then on the crest I tried to motivate him for the last descend which was pretty tricky and loose. He had a crash but nothing serious. We finished 4th again happy for being safe and sound.

What I’ve learned? A lot about being a team and running with a team mate. To support and motivate each other, to help when needed. I could have pushed to stay with the leaders but what’s the point? In the end the time of the last rider was counting. I have also know for sure that Schwalbe Thunder Burt are now my all time favorite tires even on unknown terrain. Pepi’s Tire Noodles are a great add-on. Hydration backpack was a great thing, easier to drink water even on descends. Maxalami kit is a must on such kind of races.

I am happy that Simona and Felix were with me even if they were a bit sad especially on the 3rd stage that it took so long to came back home and spend some time with time so for that I would like to thank them.

I would also like to officially announce my new partnership with PTN Pepi’s Tire Noodle and Maxalami, both brands available in Romania through Cycle Master and some local shops around Romania.

Last but now least you might have seen the new pink equipment from BioRacer. More photos and details soon. For the moment I just wanna say that it’s uber cool.

In the end I would like to thank to my sponsors for their support, to Sorin for being a great team mate to the organizers for their effort and hopefully we will see again there next year for a timed race. Why? Because Tara Hategului is an ecotourist area near the Retezat Mountains, with a large area in the UNESCO protected areas. There are a lot of natural and historical places but also about 40 hiking and biking routes. This is the 3rd are certified by the Ministry of Tourism and offers a unique experience. But in the end it all depends on you to keep it clean and natural.

Cheers, Vlad

photo credits: Cristina Maciu

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