Bike Maraton Wrocław 2011
There are more and more people owning a bike in my city,and during the last past few weeks, everyone kept repeating in every corner of my life who would join the Bike Marathon Wroclaw or not.
I did many rallyes and races like this when I used to be in France, often in the company of my father. But I tend to be a quietness lover, and enjoyed so far cycling in mountains, my favourite environment. However, this does'nt mean I don't like to have fun from time to time, and since my Basque fellows invited me to join their team, I decided that taking part into the main bike race of my city would be the least of all. The day before I also knew that Grzegorz, a friend of Consuelo with who I rode, the guy who sold me his North Wave Mission, and his girlfriend Kasia who usually always accompany him (as she did across the whole country last summer) were joining too. As they live two blocs away we drove together to the starting place. At least half of the cars going to this side of Wroclaw were loaded with bikes !
Once on the spot I have never seen such a crowd of mountain bikers, even in the past in France. How many ? Thousand ? More ? The main newspapers will told we were 1900, a sort of record in Poland ! TV helicopters were turning in the sky to film the start ! I met Alvaro, Unai (with who I rode in Feb) as well as Jorge, owning an identical sussie bike than Alvaro, just before the start, in conformity to the Spanish way of life: never too early ! We had to meet them as they had picked my number and registration.
We stood consequently quite far from the starting line. Between the moment the start signal was given and the moment we really moved (let's call it like this, it was rather queuing !), at least five minutes passed, as the large starting corridor was soon reducing as a double-singletrack. The first fifteen kilometers were just waiting into a long double-queue of slow cyclers, overtaking few only occasionally. Some guys were swearing loud "keep riding right please, we're not going to wait all night like this, shit !". Few moments later you would overtake them walking at the foot of the first slope. The way Poles behave in a bike event doesn't differ much from the way they drive !
The opportunity to cycle faster came as we reached the first refreshments, and the split of the Mini circuit (some 20km) with the Mega circuit (57km). The Mega circuit was indeed very nice, and very well designed. As the race was close from Wroclaw, the land was mostly flat, crossing meadows and pine forests, sandy in places. But every time a hillet stood somewhere in a forest, they made the most of it and the track went as steep as possible over them. Unfortunately, queues again forced us to walk behind other for slopes that would have normally been manageable to pass.
At half distance, after a huge muddy marsh that split the pack, we lost more of less each other (so far Unai, Grzegorz and me were together, Alvaro and Jorge slightly behind). People who started too quick were seen more and more often aside the trail, amongst millions of items people lost: spare inner tubes, pumps, bottles, even a seat ! And I was still amazed to see after such distance, I still overtook people who I hardly could understand how they were still ahead of us, like fat women moving at snail pace... They must have been really close to the real start line, and must have waited perhaps two hours before the signal !
I had never ridden my TOMAC in race conditions, and I must say I am amazed by this bike. It is very nervous, very dynamic. As an element of comparison, the QBikes, even with the former configuration, was kind of ofter. As the arrival was getting nearer, I rode mostly with people with the same pace as me. I still passed some girls going really strong near the end too. No doubt Maja Włoszczowska inspired more than one and the importance of her role in promoting this sport in the country.
But five kilometers before the end, the screw of my sit played me a bad trick: due to a very bumpy trail portion, it went slowly pitching backwards, and the last two kilometers were a real calvary. I had to make the most of cycling out of the saddle, or be forced sit like on a harley davidson or a deltaplane. The soonest the best, and thanks to it I finished really quick.
What was my surprise to see Alvaro waiting for me at the arrival ! My unfortunate friend had a broken chain, had to wait for a generous mind that dared to stop and help him, and did instead the mini circuit. So did Kasia the mini too, without any technical incident, and she was really glad of it. Moreover I was impressed by her ability of looking as good as before the start, without a single drop of mud ! Five minutes later came Unai, and five more Grzegorz. Jorge finally arrived much later, swearing in Spanish and out of strength, perhaps due to lack of condition and training. I suspect that for him, like for my friend Alvaro, their huge 2'20 studded descent tires didn't match much today's greasy flat terrain. I even saw couple of folks riding cyclocross !
The event website shows I arrived 64th of my city Wroclaw, Unai 91th Grzegorz 119th and Jorge 181th. However our positions in the general final rankings are much lower as many more participants from the rest of Poland took part. I am just a bit frustrated of the loss of time during the first half due to traffic, and wonder how would have we finished. But the most important is that we all had a great fun ! Perhaps I'll manage to add more photos of us since a lot of people were taking all competitors with automatic cameras.
I don't know if I will attend such event soon, but some of us already agreed to join the event of the Śnieżka Uphill Race in August, an occasion to cycle the top of the Sudetes legally and in the background of a race.
I saved the GPX trace of today's circuit :
Pictures during the rideEric