Back to racing (sort of)

15 Sep

During this pandemic times it was a challenge to find a motivation and to go out and train. I didn’t had such a micro structured plan, but instead I tried on a macro scale to keep up my fitness and to take care of my lower back as much as possible. Due to more factors I couldn’t race this year.

Triada MTB Avrig – Foto: Tibi Hila

But in the end, at Triada MTB from Avrig I’ve managed to pin my number on the handlebar and (re)start the season. It’s was my first race since February and I had so many feelings about it.

Saturday afternoon together with Alex D. we jumped in the car and went straight to Avrig. Everything was on point. I tried to keep a decent pace after the start but not too high as I didn’t knew what to expect from my legs and lungs. The lungs suffered a bit in the first part as it was pretty dusty.

When the single trail descend started, I’ve lost some time because it was too narrow to pass over and then I started to push, maybe too hard to get back where I want it. It went well for a while, as I won more time on descends and everything was pretty smooth. After a quick refill at the feedzone and leaving the empty gel bags the steepest climb started and I tried to keep my cool and my pace even though some riders were passing me. After a few more short punchy climbs a flat dusty section on the side of river Olt started. I was pretty safe in fast group, but it started to feel really hot and almost 10km at ~40km/h was a high pace for me.

Stopped again at the feedzone just to refill the bottle and the “savanna” climb started. About 12km with +350m of climbing and almost no shade at all. Then my “engine” collapsed. My legs were fine, but I started to feel dizzy and whenever I was trying to push at my normal “race pace” everything was getting dark in front of my eyes. So I had to options: keep riding in the “extra saver mode” or come back and quit. But I am not used to quit. Remember that in 2014 at the World Championship in Norway I kept racing with my hand broken.

Eventually I found some shade and stopped. I would say for about 5 minutes but I am not sure how much it really was. I suspect that I had a heat stroke but I am not sure. A lot of riders passed me. Some of them asking about what’s wrong, others just minding their own race. Got some fresh water at the last feedzone and kept riding. About 5 km before the finishline Ionut Toncu from HPM Racing came by. We stayed together until the end so I would like to thank him for that.

I can only say that I’ve finished the race but I am not sure how I’ve managed to do it. This can be due to the hard week before the race, preparing myself for the double World Cup rounds from Nove Mesto in Czech Republic at the end of September, due to heat, or simply because my body failed after 2 1/2h of racing.

We will see what the future will bring us. Margaret Thatcher said that “you may have to fight a battle more than once to win it” and I think this time she’s right.

Last but not least I would like to thank Tudi Oprea for the great race and awesome organisation during these hard time, all the volunteers. Everything was top notch.

Also I would like to raise my middle finger to all the riders who were littering their gel bags on the course. Indeed, having 5 extra grams in the backpocket would make you loose the race.

I’ll keep on fighting. Thanks everyone for your support.


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