Saturday, 11 June 2011

TransGermany Day 3 - the migrating knee pain

The day with the best weather to date also coincided with the hardest route profile for me. Most people look at the stages and fear the days that look like a woodsman’s saw, by contrast I find that I flat-line on the flat lines. Needless to say, I seem to have totally failed to acquire any of the characteristics of the flatland time-triallists in whose lands I spent my formative cycling years.

A similar-distance route to yesterday, today was equipped with around 500m less climbing, and with almost all the uphill confined to the first half of the stage. These two 500m ascents saw me feeling strong, although I was suffering a bit with knee pains that didn’t quite know which knee to settle in. Initially it was the right, then on the second ascent, it abated only to come back on the other side, and by the top of the climb I saw suffering with both knees. It didn’t bother me unduly however, a chap at the top of the second ascent counted me through in ~200th place overall, which by my reckoning would have put me in about 130th in the senior men. All I had to do was hang on down the other side, ready for a 250m climb to the finish.

On the following 35km of gentle downhill, I found myself being passed by groups of 20-25 riders which I simply couldn’t hold onto. Ordinarily it wouldn’t have bothered me, as I would have been able to make the places back on the next ascent, but with only a short climb to the finish, they were gone for good. 183rd on the stage, both knees are killing me, my right ankle has got it in for me, and i’ve had the black eyed peas’ “I gotta feeling” rattling around in my head all day. It’s enough to make a chap quite, quite vexed! I’m now dreading tomorrow, which is longer and even flatter...

Post-stage finish, there was a nice little descent on open roads (and therefore untimed) to get to the main finish area in town, where the rather poorly-explained Scott sprint was happening; apparently you could win scott goodies, but it was far from clear how. Hamish, ever the serious one of our stage-race duo suggested that it might be judged on the “erotic content” of our sprint in an X-factor style. We struggled conceptually with how best to use this information to win bike bling, and decided (wisely I feel) that whatever it took, we probably didn’t have! We were determined not to get sucked into wasting energy, but with crowds of several hundred people cheering, we ended up drag racing one another down the main street – oops!

It took us a little while to find our hotel in Garmisch, but it was worth the hunting around; it looked like a good choice, and the fact that quite a lot of the organisation (including the legendary Uli) were staying there too only sweetened the deal. When we went to check in, however, we were told that there was no room at the inn – we would have to transfer to the 4.5* sister hotel across town; what a hardship. We got an interesting insight into how the other half live when we arrived at the Grand Hotel Atlas, seeing the Multivan-Merida mechanics prepping bikes in the courtyard definitely gave us a pause for “what if...?”.

Last stage tomorrow – Rachel’s sage advice by text message is to smash it. After all, how long can 100km take? Let’s see what, if anything, I have left...

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