Where: Horst, Limburg (Netherlands)
When: 13th April 2014
Course details: Pancake flat, 2 lap run - 1 lap ride - 1 lap run. All on closed roads. A lot of turns.
Distance(s): 4.8km run, 20km bike, 2.7km run
Marshalling: As good as it needed to be
Facilities: good, water station on run (not needed)
Technical: Chip timed.
Freebies: Tech T-shirt, race belt, bag
My second go at the European champs, and it was in the same place. Following last year I took on the services of Jase as coach last summer and have been working to a plan pretty solidly since July. Horst was my first A race of the year, and preparation had been a bit unsteady, I was training really well, and was teetering on the edge of doing too much. Thankfully some perspective from Faith helped me see it, and an email to Jase and things were changed and it was caught in time. An annoying track set without any timing meant I had no idea how my speed was coming on going into the race. From the knowledge gained last year we were booked into Center Parcs and I had Mum, Dad, and Jude joining me out there this year. A long drive across France and Belgium and we arrived in Holland late on Friday afternoon. Checked in my first order of business was to stick my running kit on and knock out an easy couple of laps of the park before it got dark. Saturday and I rode into Horst with Jase and his mate and we did a lap of the bike course and back, the single lap course was much nicer, although it was pretty exposed to the winds. No bother though, the forecast has said 3mph… Back home and a quick shower, GB kit on and back into Horst for a wander, some lunch and then register and race briefing. Race briefing also involved the opening ceremony apparently, including such highlights as the South African national anthem, pledging oaths from athletes and officials, and some weird ‘street dance’ then a rather hurried race brief which I didn’t really take in. We then spent an hour or some in the ‘Aqua Mundo’ at the park before dinner. I fancied ribs, not wanting to eat too much I asked how big the standard portion was to be told you got three pieces. Hmm. OK, I’ll have the unlimited them… Turns out it was most likely 3 half racks of ribs not three pieces as a mound of ribs appeared in front of me.
After a good nights sleep race morning arrived and it was a nice leisurely start. Got up and had a late breakfast, changed my wheels and brake blocks, reoiled my chain, pumped my tyres up (and filled my bike pump with tube sealant, idiot!). Faffed, grazed, drank, had visit from The Fear’s best mate… faffed, grazed, drank, another visit… Finally 11:30 came around and I got on my bike and rode the 4 miles to the race while my kit bag and supporters drove in. First thing I noticed was it was a tad breezy, nice easy riding in the tailwind though, then it became a cross wind. Oh god, felt a bit twitchy! Having made it safely I managed to see Jase out of T2, before racking my bike. Fun in itself as the organisers just used crowd barriers. Luckily the height of my handlebars is enough I was able to rack with the front wheel through a gap and the drops holding the bike back. Saw Jase come through on his final lap and we wandered up towards the start/finish. Quick catch up and the wind was clearly an issue. Now it was a game of time killing; toilet trips, photos, warm up, chats… Final it was time to take to the start line.
Squeezed in like sardines in a can it was actually nice and warm. Discussions about gun vs chip time came up. I thought it was gun time, so on the horn I started the Garmin, and stood still… finally a jog, then across the line and we were off. Although I’d started back a bit I was in the right group as we jostled for space. Through the twists and turns and the Garmin beeped. Kilometre 1 done. 3:50. Ooops, bit ahead of target pace. Not too hard now Jibby, pace yourself. Through more twists and turns. Beep. 3:45. D’Oh, I was meant to be easing up! Through transition and onto lap 2. Saw my supporters through town and I was in a good rhythm now. Beep. 3:57. OK I’m holding this. Got a bit of a stitch. Deal with it. Push on. Pain is weakness… Beep 3:55. Last stretch and into transition.
Run past the toilets to the parking sign. Shoes off. Helmet on. Bike and run out. Felt like I was walking. Changed hand position and found a bit more speed. Made the mount line, off to the left and on the bike.
Got some speed up, across a bump, right foot in, corner, left foot, corner through town. Over kerb and sharp left, congested, more corners, sharp right, finally out of time and I put some power down. Overtake a few into the next corners, lose out through the corners, feeling nice and fast here - I’m hitting 35kph+ on the shortish straights. Starts getting a bit congested. Long drag and I get some speed on. Corner and it gets busy, take and inside line through a corner and hear a shout from behind that I slowed too much. Red mist descends and I go for the nitrate boost. With tailwind assist up the one slope on the course I crest at 50kph, now for a nice long downhill and I’m flying. Should drink but don’t want to take my hands of the bars. Passing quite a few. I get overtaken by a couple of riders. Drop back a touch and take a drink as a draft buster comes past. It sits on the pack in front and the yellow card comes out. Another corner and now I feel the crosswind. Ouch, holding 30kph hurts now. Think I hear a motorbike behind as I turn straight into the wind, make sure I’m legal and it passes. Now to deal with the headwind. In the drops I’m just trying to tap out a steady cadence. This feels surprisingly good actually. Now for the long drag. Jase warned me about this. Hell to the turn, then heaven back. Riding on the wrong side of the road and riders are scattered everywhere. I try and pick my way through. Go long/wide at the 180° and then sure enough, heaven with that tailwind. Touching 48kph the turn comes pretty quick. Just a few km left now. Brief respite through a residential street, time for a drink, then no mercy as I turn onto the road home. Back into town and a couple of turns. Start getting my shoes undone. Feet out. Theres mum, and dad, and Jude! Dismount line comes up way too quick. I brake, I’m off.
Then it nearly all went wrong. I’m not entirely sure what happened, think my bike veered in front of me and started going over, and I nearly went over it. I pulled it upright to the amazement of one spectator. Run back to my spot. Rack. Shoe on. Nope. Try again. Nope. So dizzy. Finally get them on. Off and running out. Dad and Jude made transition exit. Man that must have been slow.
The run felt horrid through the town. Heavy legs. Yuk. There is the finish, but I have to do a lap first… Find a pace and settle in. The Garmin beeps, I dared not look. In the far reaches of the course and my mind wanders. Pull yourself together man. You’re in the European champs. Death or Glory. Soon I see transition. Last bit through town. I hear cheers and I’m holding the 2 guys in front. 100m to go and I dig in for a sprint, I catch them, but I went to early, they see me and make their own break for it. Outsprinted. Over the line and I’m dead.
Pick my way out then go and sit on the floor. Dazed, confused, exhausted. I did it. I raced my all. Had a great race, can’t complain.
Run 1: 18:43 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/480100532
Bike: 36:8 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/480100535
Run 2: 11:22 http://connect.garmin.com/activity/481233475
Time, decent improvement over last year.
Bike handling through corners
My sprint finish.
Really pleased with this result. I’d set myself a goal, which I missed, but I did manage to better last years time by nearly 2 minutes, on a course that was longer (finish was ~200m further away) after a much windier bike in trying to achieve it. Once again I raced to the best of my ability, and there isn’t that much I could have done better.