Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A new chapter with Team Stuttgart - Part 2

On a very short notice we then got invited to 2 Italian UCI 1.1 races Coppa Bernocci and Coppa Agostoni. My form was still not great but I was still looking forward to some hillier races again. The first one started in extremely foul weather and it didn’t get better throughout the race. Italian roads are terrible in the wet as there are thousands of oily corners and other hazards. Knowing that my form was not great I wasn’t willing to take any unnecessary risks and got dropped on the descent twice, but always came back until I got dropped for good on one of the super steep climbs again. I pulled out at the feeding point (wouldn’t have made any sense to continue) but there wasn’t any space left in the car so together with 2 teammates we had to ride over 40km back to the finish, all still in the rain. Not knowing the roads back and not speaking any Italian didn’t help our case much..

The second one of them had better weather, but I just didn’t have it in the legs. A long climb with about 8 switchbacks where you had to break for each corner thinned the bunch out each lap and I always got stuck at the back end. At some point I got dropped again, but this time at least I had a local cyclist guiding 4 other Italians and me back to the finish (another 35km). I might’ve never found back without her.

Highlight of Coppa Agostoni/Bernocci: seeing old teammates from the UCI center and MTN Qhubeka feeder team that I haven’t seen in ages. Riding alongside the likes of Nibali, Scarponi, Rebellin, Nizzolo, Trentin etc. was pretty special too. 

Back from Italy we slept a 2 nights in a hotel and continued on towards Sebnitz a small town so deep in the east of Germany that you could pick up cellphone network from the Czech Republic. It was a strange UCI race, almost like a criterium with prizes to be won each lap (like wine or beer or money). The rain was there too, but a little more on and off than in Italy. Lots of sketchy corners and descents again didn’t make it my favourite race and mostly I wasn’t to be seen at the front. However as the race went on I was starting to feel better and almost thought I could get a good finish in, but dropped my chain on the last lap and took a while to get it back on. I almost came back to the peloton on the climb, but was around 50m short and the headwind that followed made it impossible to come back.

Highlight of Rund um Sebnitz: one descent had a terrible corner at the bottom and due to the wet roads you had to slow down immensely to make it around safely. Sometime mid-way through, one rider started shouting from the back and just went straight where he had to turn 90 degrees+ to the left. Cleaned out two other riders in the process too. I think he will be happy to hear that disc brakes are allowed on the road now. 

A teammate in the peloton

Another 2 weeks of seemingly endless training (and a small crit) went by before it was time for the last race of the season. I was so over having to train each day that I was super motivated for this race just to get it over with and start the off season. Münsterland Giro is a very flat race but has a lot of high profile teams and riders. Most of the race was pretty flat though and you could just sit back and relax in the bunch while the pro teams do the work. On the run in to the line I managed to squeeze by quite a few riders with a cheeky move on the inside of a corner, but a crash right afterwards split the peloton and we couldn’t come back to the first 15 riders. 38th was my final result, which is far from great but showed me that you can easily get a top 20 if you have the guts to fight for position at the end. Confidence is what we need to work on then..

Highlights of Sparkassen Münsterland Giro: on one of the early climbs Sep Vanmarcke tried to split the field and a 25 man group got away for a little while. Massive confidence booster to be amongst those 25 although I started the climb far back. 

Off season at last!!!

The off season has been great so far. Firstly I took 2 weeks off completely, just playing volleyball etc here and there, but mostly trying not to move too much. Then I had a little roadtrip with Georg to visit friends in Hamburg and my brother in Bremen. The roadtrip continued with a few more friends up to Sweden where we stayed for 2 weeks. There I started doing a few non-cycling related exercises again. Unfortunately the kitesurfing course was a little too expensive.

Off road run in Sweden

Coming back to Germany I had a few smaller rides before flying to Ireland to visit my girlfriend in Dingle. I immediately fell in love with the country, just absolutely beautiful! So beautiful I was tempted just to stay until the end of the year. Unfortunately both of us had to leave again after 7 amazing days. 

The traveling continued back home to the motherland (Namibia), where Georg followed me a few days later and I could show him around where the white African comes from that lives in his house. I bought a mountainbike too (or rather my lovely parents bought it for me) which I’ve been wanting to do ages ago and went exploring the new trails and routes that have been made since I stopped going off-road.
Then it was time to take up the support role at the Desert Dash once more, where both parties that I supported won in their respective category. Vera Adrian and Norbert Meyer the Mixed 2 man team category whereas Konny Looser (my training partner these days) absolutely smashed the solo category. Hats off to every single participant. Next year I might do it myself. 

 The week afterwards we stayed in Swakopmund and went Duneboarding (like Snowboarding except down the dunes), fatbiking in the dunes and on the beach and played beach volleyball next to the usual MTB rides. Good fun, good fun. 

 The plan for next year is to stay in Namibia until the National Championships (7th of February) before I head back to the colder sider of the earth and start my first full season with Team Stuttgart. Hoping to pass all my subjects in the online course I’ve recently started too.

That’s all for now from my side.
 A wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you.

Au revoir, good bye und auf Wiedersehen,

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