Friday, June 24, 2011

Team Jamis: Ben and Blake’s Austrian Adventure

Blake checks in after the fourth and final stage of the Alpen Tour in Austria.

Well now that the Alpentour is over I can take a sigh of relief. Aside from the event’s stacked field, gruesome stage profiles, hectic neutral starts and an overall Wall Street-like seriousness overwhelming the the attitudes of most competitors, the event was good.

I battled my own cramping issues from day one which added an additional element of fun to my race. This race opened my eyes to real European racing. In all honesty I felt a little out of place. I understand racing, and being serious when doing so but the overwhelming self centeredness and entitlement of most people there caught me off guard. What do they think this is, a bike race?

I always get the pleasure to run into Mike and Marry a few time a year, though it’s rare that I see them in the US. Despite being far from home, in a race where I felt out of place and being generally confused most of the time, it was comforting to at least share my thoughts with someone I knew.

Marry killed it this weekend at the race, winning the final stage!

The race started everyday (except for the TT) with a nerve racking “neutral” start. Bar tapping, hip checking, yelling, skidding, wheel rubbing…it was enough to get my heart rate up to race pace before it’d even begun.

The race was fast and the knowledge I have acquired from racing both here and at Cape Epic is that Europeans have fitness, good fitness. But aside from the top pros they often lack even the most primitive bike handling skills. My days often consisted of jumping back and forth between groups, Yo Yo’ing on the climbs and slingshotting forward on the descents.

Ben had a good TT placing 10th on the stage, not shabby at all. With Ben finally off his antibiotics, and my cramping issues seemingly figured out I hope the remainder of the European racing will go better.

Poppa Benny get’s A++ for being PRO. He’ll do whatever is necessary to get the job done. He never missed a beat and is a veteren at team support. Often sporting a polo shirt which says “license to win” on it, Poppa Benny continually exceeds expectations, thanks!

Stage 5 of Alpentour was perhaps the hardest. The drive back to Haus Sonntag was roughly 9hrs. The car we’re driving doesn’t have AC currently so naturally the drive would be hot. It’s ok, just roll the windows down…nope. Poppa Benny is old school and denied Ben and I the luxury of fresh air as he didn’t want to get a stiff neck or a cold. With an outside temp almost at 90 degrees the drive home was rough. While Poppa Benny seemed unfazed by the heat Ben and I were struggling. Dragging our feet during fuel stops we tried to buy every second of fresh air we could get. Soaked in sweat we made it to Hause Sonntag and well, Poppa Benny feels fine so I guess I can’t argue. We are now nestled in rolling hills of western Germany. It will be nice to be here for a week where I look forward to relaxing and catching my breath. I’ll post some more photos soon.


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