Hi folks !
here it is-my first race report on RST.I will try my best not to be to
Sunday, 13th July 97, 4 a.m. GMT+2: Getting up after 5 hours of good
sleep (thanks to the hot milk in the evening). Weather looks okay,
slightly overcast, Temp at 14 Celsius. Quick breakfast, loading stuff
into the car and off. Bike and helmet already checked in yesterday
(Lothar Leder checked in right before me, had to be a good sign), good
thing, takes a lot of worrying from me. Quick car ride over 15 k to the
start/ T1-area. Already lots of athletes + spectators at 5 a.m. First
wave will start at 6.30. My wave will leave at 7.20 a.m., 5 waves
before that. Usual prep with the bike + clothes. Watch start of first
group (Pros, women, older competitors). Wetsuit on at 6.45 (better be
early), everything well prepared. Feeling is okay, confident. Stand near
the gate to the swimstart, help people close wetsuits, smear Vaseline
etc. Enter through the gate at about 7.10. HR at 86, makes me wonder if
I will die in advance, would expect it to be much higher. Still feeling
confident and quiet. Slip into the water at 7.15, swim a few strokes
back and forth. Water feels good, soft and warm at 20 Celsius. Look up
to the bridge over the Rhein-Donau-C***(that is where we swim in, a
ship-channel). Bridge is overcrowded with spectators, yelling. Fantastic
atmosphere, gives me a shiver. Gathering behind the line 2 min before
start. Whishing luck to everyone around. Waiting...last seconds drop
away...BANG! Here we go..my first IM.
Nearly 400 competitors in 1 group, thought it would be better not to
stand in the frontline, started from 10 m behind-should be a mistake.
Find myself in the middle of hundreds of wetsuits, arms, legs. My
neighbour swimmer hitting my head at every stroke, get away from him.
Swimming in the swarm is very easy, you hardly need to crawl at all.
Draft sucks me away the first 400 m. Find some open water, find a good
rhythm. Swimming feels swift and fast. Passing by lots of swimmers.
Wondering..am I to fast? will I drown at KM 3 ? Arms feel good, keep the
tempo. Look up after about 1 k. See pink swimcaps (ours were blue). WOW
! Caught up 10 mins to the group starting before after not half the
distance. Swim further, more pinko caps. Turnaround comes fast, no prob.
Catch lots of green caps at 2,5 K (two groups before), now surrounded by
mostly green andpink caps, few blue ones. Last 300 m. Accelerate up to
the ramp, finally run out of the water. Volunteers grab my arms, want to
help me out. Not letting them (Who do they think I am ? Grandpa ?) look
at my watch: 1 hr 3 mins !! for 3800 meters-never thought I could swim
this fast. No dizzyness when getting out of the water, legs are ok. Run
into the tent for changing, grab bag with clothes on the half way. Into
the tent. HR 156. Sit down,breathe. Volunteer helps me to get out of
wetsuit, stuffs my clothes into a bag. 3 mins so far. Run out of tent.
Bike is about 30 meters away. Drink two glasses of water on the way.
Reach bike, neighbour bikes except one still in place. Helmet on,
glasses, shoes..run out of T1, press watch..4 min 12 sec seems alright
to me fot IM. Jump on bike and pedal off. Up a steep ramp, onto a
bridge. Road is lined with thousands (no joke) of spectators, shouting,
clapping, ringing bells. Sprint up the ramp with a big grin, enjoying
the noise and attention.Lots of bikers before and behind me now.
Immediately after the bridge steep downhill grade, 4-5 curves with
nearly 90 degree, got to be careful here, don`t want to chrash. After
that 3-4 K straight road, going slightly downhill at 2-3 percent. High
speed here, groups of riders in close contact. Drafting ??? No
possibility to avoid, except stopping and waiting for an hour til the
last biker has passed. People ride in groups of 30 - 50. Whole road full
of bikers, believe me, no chance to ride by the rules. Speed at this
time between 24 and 26 mph over longer distances, everyone drafting.
Race marshall passing by, only telling people to stay on the right side
of the road. You can`t control 2704 athletes in this race. If they
started giving penalties, they could advice the whole thing to stop and
go at once (sure would be funny-but would change nothing). first half of
bike round passes quickly, chatting, eating, drinking. No major hills in
First major problem comes up at 40 K - calls itself "Kavalrienberg"
(means "Cavalry mountain"). Upgrade at 6-12 percent over nearly 6 K.
Ouch. First part is the meanest, maybe 500 meters climb at 12 percent,
after that rest is steadily upward at 6 - 8 %. Uh-oh. What a mess. Speed
drops to max 10 mph. Crowds of people along the road helps a lot. Second
part of bike round is a steady up and down - 2 K down with 10% at max
speed nearly 47 mph, curves... quite interesting, some K up and so on.
Really a very, very nice course. At KM 71 comes the ultimate adventure:
The solar hill, a steep upgrade. Road absolutely crowded with
spectators. They say that 20.000 people stand on this hill. Only a small
passage between the spectators, as narrow as 1 meter. Incredible noise.
Feeling you can`t describe. People pushing bikers upward hand over hand,
hundreds of high fives to give, cowbells, rattles, everything that
produces noise..cooking gear, drums...you won`t believe it until you did
it. Ever thought sex was good? *** were interesting ? Try this one.
Even if someone got to hit you straight into the face to get the grin
out of it-it wouldn`t help.
Complete 1st bike round quickly with no problems, feeling good. My crew
waiting for me at the end of the first round. Short stop to tell them
how its going, quick hug for my girlfriend, and off for second round.
Average Speed for this part: Warp 7 (22,5 mph). Who the f... is Luc van
Lierde ? Time so far: 3 hrs 34 mins
-to be continued-