Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Leading up to the FISU University Champs, training was going well. I was in Sembach putting in some mega-hours and felt really, really strong. In fact, I felt superb until the moment the gun went off….then horrible. First off, there were 70 men in the field, so it was quite a large field. It was a pontoon start with one lap, which is miles better than a beach start and two laps. Going out there was a channel of buoys that led to the 750m turnaround. I lined up on the left because it looked less crowded and a straight shot through the “channel.” As we stood on the pontoon, the announcer rambled on for several minutes in French. Then the horn went off. I think I was picking my nose when the gun went off. It was ridiculous. To add insult to my delayed response, the group on the right swam the tangent and cut the buoys. I not only was being clobbered by every drowning yahoo, I was also swimming longer than the “fast swimmers” cutting the buoys on the right. No matter though, because even with that situation, I still had a chance of making the front pack, and I was too tired to hold on. It was a horrible start to the race.
The bike course was crazy. We went basically straight up for 5k and then straight down for 5k. We had one descending section on cobbles with 160 degree turn at the bottom. I have never risked as much as on that course. I almost hit the barriers at least 10 times. My wheels were smoking and skipping on the descents. These weren’t even the ascents, which was were everyone was attacking left and right. To make matters even more hairy. A Japanese rider ran into my front wheel. The impact broke his rear spoke and popped his tire. He bent on of my front spokes and knocked my front wheel way out of true. So for the last lap, my wheel and whole bike would shimmy and shake when I descended. Super-sketch ville. Basically our chase pack swelled as we ran down stragglers, but we just couldn’t work together or bridge the original 20 second gap to the front pack. We ended up losing a lot of time.
The run was quite simple. I got off the bike first in my packed in 27th place. I ran down several front-packers, and got beat by 3 people from our pack. While it is not saying much, I did end up being the first American in the race, which is a bonus. We ended up 2 minutes down on the lead pack and it just ruined my run. I lost the race in the last 500m of the swim. Not a great race, but a good trip. All the good training is still in my legs, so I just have to capitalize in the next 3 weeks, because I have 3 more races. Should be interesting….Cheers!