The South Africa Trip and other experiences
The first stop of the Mercedes Benz UCI Mountainbike World Cup is already one month ago and a long period of training and season preparation came to an end. The first important races in Europe are about to take off soon so it´s time for me to recap the last weeks.
As I already said in my previous post my preparation for Stellenbosch wasn’t perfect. But to be honest I expected to finish in top 5 after I heard from Alan Hatherlys bad crash - luckily, he´s back on the bike now (and did very well at the Comonwealth Games though!). So, I was a little bit disappointed when I crossed the finish line in 6th spot but that was just for the moment and because of how exhausted I was. After some cold water and after-race-spinning I realized that it´s still very good and I´ll be in the front row at the race in Albstadt, which is way more important for me.
Then the hard work began. After a few days of recovery and easy spins the national teams training camp really started. We stayed in the Stellenbosch Academy of Sports (SAS) where we had very nice conditions including a nice gym and yummy porridge every morning which is important for me because I love breakfast and muesli – by the way: If you look on the clock now, it´s time for muesli too because it´s always time for muesli. :D Besides that, lunch and dinner weren´t really suitable for vegans because they never put spices on the veggies, it was mostly the same veggies every day and they cooked everything like twice of the time it should be cooked.
It was always nice to go out for training in SA. Of course, we did hard intervals and other exhausting stuff, but the weather and the awesome trails motivated me a lot. It´s one of the nice effects of training camps that you´re in a different place and that makes time on the bike fly by, no matter what efforts you have on the menu. Some of my highlights were the 4-pases-tour, the Muratie trails and the trails in the Jonkershoek nature reserve (you can check out the tours on Strava by following the links). And, not to forget, I’m really happy that my roomie Luca Schwarzbauer and I can still talk to each other after doing everything together 24/7 for almost 4 weeks.
During our training camp we followed the road pros on their way through the tough schedule of the spring classics. After our return Georg, Luca and I took part in some local road races by ourselves.
I´ve always liked training and racing on the road and finally I was able to do road races with my teammates: Schönaich and Waldrems. When I told Simon Geschke (Team Sunweb) about it he didn´t know anything about those races but Schönaich is actually a quite high rated competition for KT-, A- and B-category. Last year it was one hell of a ride with crazy rainy and cold conditions. While I was in a break away with four others including Sascha Weber (Maloja – Rocky Mountain Team) I had to quit after 92 of 140 km because my fingers were so cold that I couldn´t shift gears.
This time the weather was sweet and sunny and we were able to wear short sleeves – enough motivation in Germany. Nevertheless it was clear that 140km and 2000m of climbing are going to be hard for us. As I was still tired from the training camp in South Africa I was just hanging around in the peloton and trying to survive there, which was hard enough. In the end I had an average speed of 43 km/h and finished 59th – I reset my goal to top 60 after the finish and was happy. Six days later we met again for a smaller road race in Waldrems in A-/B-category with only 100 km but the course was way different this time: 40 laps, each 2,5km with a small uphill of almost 40m elevation. After we missed the breakaway which included a team captain of every team except ours we had to work very hard to close the gap again. Our main problem was that we didn´t know the riders and their positions in the teams but it was also clear that we still got to learn a lot to do better in road racing. Luca worked crazy strong in the wind and so he could´t reach a top15 result, Georg sprinted on a strong 5th place and I was still able to finish 10th and win the U23 ranking.
We ended this well teaching weeks with a nice dinner in Lucas favourite Spanish restaurant in Stuttgart and began a period of recovery with good breakfast at our favourite bakery, the Backhaus (Check it out! :D https://www.bio-scholderbeck.de/backhaus/backhaus-philosophie/ in Kirchheim (Teck) near Lucas home – that’s my understanding of racing with teammates and really good friends.