Spring in Hamburg
It has rained here every single day since 23 March. So that means that, since I got here from Majorca on 19 March, I've only managed to stay dry for 2 days of training. very nice.
Today was another exercise in stupidity as I was dressed for 12 degree dry weather, but the weather changed 50km from home to become icy rain mixed with hail, 4 degrees, and violently windy (headwind, naturally).
So as the more astute of you have by now realized, I did in fact race twice last weekend. Saturday was a relatively low-key affair (no Pro Contental or ProTour teams allowed), and yes, it did rain for the whole 120km. I spent the day cruising in the group under orders to be saved for the finale along with Sebastian. Unfortunately none of our guys got into the early break that ended up going to the end, and some confusion with the lap bell meant that I set Sebastian up with a perfect leadout to win the bunch for ninth to start the last lap. Oops. Not just us though, everyone thought that was it and after we came to a halt en masse we had to get going again for another 16km in the rain. Uphill start too. Bummer. Needless to say a lot of guys just turned around and hit the showers, which meant they were nice and cold by the time I got there. Oh yeah, and I ran out of rear brake with 50km to go and rode the front brake the rest of the way which was at complete zero when I finished. Scared.
Sunday was a little more high powered, with full teams from NotebooksBelliger.de, Heinz von Heiden and Milram TT3, plus one lonely looking Wiesenhof-Akud rider and three (only, long story) Stevens riders. The balance of the 100 man field was made up of really strong amateur teams. 160km, out-and-back, heavy duty crosswinds. The word from on high said to be well positioned in the first 10-20km, because a large group usually gets away then and goes the distance. OK, so I'm in super-good position for the first 10km, then I get stuck on the wrong side of the group as 40 guys charge up the other side of the road, make the corner and then the entire NotebooksBilliger squad goes to the front and splits the field in a crosswind. At like 50kph. So I chase really hard around all the dead bodies and get to within 15m, I can practically reach out and touch the last guy in the group, and then I blow sky high. I hook up with the chase group as they come blazing by and the next 10km are hell as I try to recover in a deathline at 45kph from my chase effort. We ride pretty hard for the next 60km or so but we get a split on the circuit in the turnaround town (which included two times up a 4km climb and twice up the cobbled main street) of 4 minutes to the leaders and then everyone pretty much sat up and we had a nice and social ride back to Berlin taking pulls in 2-man turns. Very gentlemanly. We eventually finished 15 minutes down or something, apparently the guys up front were killing each other all the way home. One of our guys didn't make it past the first 20 km, and the other guy got in the split but got spat out 10km later, so not a good day for us.
Did 500km in three days this past week, plus some intervals, and now I'm ready for our first criterium of the year in Brackwelde tomorrow. I am praying for a dry circuit because I really want to stay upright.
I lied earlier, we do have a UCI race on the calendar. Next Sunday is the Rund um Duren UCI 1.2, precursor to the 1.1 Rund um Koln (for which we do not have an invitation). Duren is reputedly very difficult, as the German Div2 and Div3 teams are usually all there, plus some good Belgian Div2's as well. Just look up the results from last year on cyclingnews.com and you'll see. Hilly too.