So my time in Germany is up, and I have touched down safely down-under to enjoy a bit of time off racing. The trip was honestly one of the best decisions of my life, and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again if the opportunity came up.
The last 6 weeks away were a hell of a lot of fun, visiting a few different countries, and meeting plenty of interesting people along the way. Mum spent a week in Crailsheim with me, which was nice…don’t underestimate how nice it is to have some clean up after you and buy you food every day! The last 3 league races were vital, and the team had to produce a few special performances if we wanted to win the league overall.
Race three in Schomberg featured a very strong field, and Germany put on its best weather for us (a storm that hit us, hit the women’s WCS field in Kitzbuhel only a few hours later – not much fun!). A few issues in pre-race prep didn’t make for a very good race. I missed a small break group on the bike, and got dropped once or twice from my pack going up one hell of a climb, and ran to a disappointing 17th place...Luke had been saying that everyone needs to have at least one bad race per season (so I can safely say mine is out of the way!).
One week later our next race in Erbach…the weather put on a better show for us. Some of my family made the trip down from the UK to watch me do this race (no pressure James!). No complaints today – made it safely into a 12-man lead bunch. El Capitano Luke Dragstra didn’t make the lead group, and sacrificed his race by sitting in the second pack rather than dragging them all up the road (which he could’ve done quite easily!) – Cheers Brother! Off the bike our gun Frenchy Cedric “Wild-Schwein” Oesterle was quickly up the road and cruised to a 70sec victory, with me securing 3rd and Luke finishing 12th. Benno suffered bad cramps during the bike and run, but to his credit got across the line as our 4th man, and he secured us a team win by 20seconds!
A couple of weeks later I was lucky enough to travel with the Magic team to a little town in Germany called Roth, which every year is host to one of the most competitive, and certainly the most spectacular long distance race in the world, Challenge Roth. There must have been something in the air that day, because both the men’s and women’s long course world records were broken in a superior display of strength by Andreas Raelert and Chrissie Wellington, and I got to witness it all first hand. This weekend was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
Liga Finale – Schluchsee: A truly amazing town hidden in the Black Forest at 1000m altitude. I made sure I was well tapered for this race…as it was very important to do well (Team Magic was level on points at the top of the table with Team Heuchelberg, so whoever had the best day here would take away the LBS Cup). Another race where not much went wrong…rode in a 4-man breakaway over a brutal bike course, but we were caught by the bunch at about 20km. Once again just didn’t have the speed to run with the winners, securing 4th spot. Magic got 3 in the top 10, including 1st place from Cedric, which was enough to beat team Heuchelberg and take home the LBS Cup for a second year in a row! My 4th place meant that I also took home 1st in the LBS individual category.
The last two weeks in Crailsheim got a bit hectic with travelling and packing and unpacking, and training got a bit left behind. I travelled to Lecco in Italy (a fantastic city on Lake Como) where I met up with Ben and a few other athletes and friends. We spent the weekend sitting in Caffe’s and Pizzeria’s, also competing in the Lecco International on Sunday arvo. It was a fantastic sprint distance race course along the city’s main streets. I was lucky enough to place second. After losing a bit of time in a very choppy swim, I tried to make up as much ground as I could on the bike and run, but just couldn’t reel in the eventual winner Mattia Ceccarelli (hope I spelt that right) who led from tape to tape. In Italy, every is allowed to draft, and there is no lap-out rule, so things got a bit confusing when I would see three people sitting on my wheel who seemed to come out of nowhere…I’d later find out that they were a lap down!
A long day of travel back to Crailsheim, only to have to jump on another plane in 2 days time. So I was frantically packing for the final day, and by the time Thursday came around, I was landing in Singapore where I met Dad and the West Aussie ‘Triathlon Excellence Program’ athletes and coaches. I had a few days to acclimatise to the extreme heat and humidity before Sunday’s ITU Asian Cup race, which would wrap up my season. Race day came, and I felt very twitchy…having too many rest days can do that to you! Another choppy swim had me swallowing more salt water than I would have liked to. Unfortunately I just lost the front bunch in the last few hundred metres and through transition, and found myself with another Aussie riding in no-man’s land. Things we’re going well for us and we were pulling back time on the group in front, but that is about where my luck ran out, a tiny little stone got lodged in my tired, and within a kilometre or two I was riding on my back rim. I was a good 2km from the spare wheel station so any heroic attempt to run to the station would have me at risk of getting lapped.
Not a great way to finish the season, but what an awesome season it was! So now I’m back home, enjoying a bit of rest & reflection time, and already getting a bit of fire in the belly for what promises to be a great 2011/12 season.
Until next time,