July 27, 2012

Targu Mures Trophy

The Targu Mures Trophy was my longest and hardest race. I was thinking a lot before the race about which category to choose, the 65 km or the 100 km. I knew that I wasn't in a very good shape but I had a very stressful period and very few time to get out on a bike... These and the fact that the 100 km included the climb to Becheci made me sign up to the longest race. I thought that if I would be very tired I would abandon and race on the short track.
Thanks to the weight training and football I am in a good shape although I don't ride a lot anymore. In the last few year I raced a lot so know I know how to race and how to finish races. I've put a lot of thought in my race tactic and I decided to start slow and maintain a steady pace so I don't get tired.

I was expecting to have some cramps in my legs but I learned how to deal with them (eat a lot of bananas and drink a lot). I was also expecting to have a sore behind but luckily that didn't happen only after the race. Thanks to the weight training my hands didn't get tired like they used to and even my back pain disappears after about a half hour. I didn't expect the pain I had in my neck area in the middle of the race when I got so tired that I couldn't keep my shoulders up :)

The race started one hour later so I was starting to get hungry and I wanted to get fast to the first checkpoint to get something to eat. I started slowly, keeping a constant and pleasant pace to conserve my energy, I was just enjoying the ride. The first climb was in the forest and it was muddy and slippery so I had to get off the bike two times. At the first check point I was amazed by my speed, I had 16,7 km/h average speed. I took a lot of bananas and a cereal bar and a lot of liquids. It was my first race where I had an extra water bottle in my back pocket because it was very hot and I was prepared for a very long race.

I was heaving fun and riding steadily, not pushing to hard and soon I got to the the second checkpoint where I noticed that my average speed dropped only to to 16,6 km/h. After the second stop which was at about 40  kilometers I started to get tired so when stopped at the next checkpoint for water and food my average speed decreased to 15,4 km/h. I was eating a lot of bananas and drinking water and isotonic drinks to avoid cramps. I also had 5 gels and some magnesium candy which I ate before the hard climbs or when I started to get tired.

When I got to the big climb to Becheci I was already tired but conquering the mountain motivated me. It was a very hard and long climb, it took me 1 hour and 12 minutes to climb 9 kilometers. The only thing that motivated me was the thought that if I climb this mountain then the hard part is over and I can finish the race. Talking to the people at the checkpoints I found out that I was last and a girl was in front of me at a few minutes. The climb to Becheci was very hard, I had a lot of cramps and I was walking a lot to get rid of them, I was dreaming of just sitting down or laying on a bed. The other big problem was the sun, there was almost no shade on the climb.

When I got to the top the checkpoint was already gone, I found out from the mountain rescue team that they left about 5 minutes ago, after the girl in from of me left. I got some water and continued with a short downhill.

The path to the next checkpoint was very hilly and I got very tired from not being able to keep a steady pace. When I got to the checkpoint the people motivated me and I was feeling recharged. The big problem was that I still had a long way home and I was fighting with my thought and the cramps. The last 40 kilometers where the hardest, I thought that the race will never end. Two referees with an atv motivated me before they left me alone and went to the finish line. With a few km before the finish some people where congratulating and saying that I'm almost there, that was the best motivation :)

When I got to the finish line everybody was applauding so I instantly forgot all the pain. I didn't defeat anybody (I was last) but I defeated myself. I proved to myself that it's all in my head, you have to race with your head not with your legs :)

 - distance: 103.4 km
 - average speed: 13.7 km/h
 - max speed: 48.7 km/h
 - moving time: 7:30:24
 - race time was about 7 hours and 50 minutes

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