Last weekend Kera and I along with our friends Matthias & Christian ‘raced’ in a 12 hour race in Külsheim. A tiny town not too far from Würzberg. It’s beautiful country with rolling hills, fields and small towns. Plopped right in the middle is former tank training base. Believe it or not, it makes for a damn good area to ride mountain bikes!
We headed up on Friday along with Matthias. I’ll have you know, the man knows how to fit a lot of stuff in a car. We managed to fit all of our stuff (3 bikes, camping equipment, etc.) in to his Passat. It kind of seemed a bit like loading up a clown car. Looking at all the bikes and stuff on the ground, I would have said it would never fit. In fact, I think I did say it.
We arrived around 9:30/10:00 p.m. to a mostly full parking lot and camping area. After looking a around for a bit, we said hi to a number of people that we know, accepted delivery of some stateside things from a buddy and then found a place to plop our stuff for the weekend. Thanks to the promoters, they’d put up military style tents that sleep 10 or about 6-8 comfortably (with equipment). We then had a couple of beers and headed to bed. Well… three of us did. I think Matthias & Christian stayed up till 2:00 a.m. or something.
The next morning, we awoke, wandered down to breakfast and COFFEE! Then I knew that I needed to get back and get ready for an 8:30 meeting and a 9:00 start.
One thing I need to mention. Something that I hope will always amaze me is the amount of love, blood, sweat & tears that local communities here put in to events like this. I’m sure most people in town ride a bike at least to/from work or to the store. However, I’m guessing 75% or more of Külsheim came out to help, donate food or time and then just hang out and support us.
This has happened in every race that I’ve taken part in here. It didn’t matter whether it was in Italy, France, Austria or Germany. It also didn’t matter whether it was summer or winter, people love to be a part of it. I think that I understand why I’m so fascinated by it all. It’s because in my 10+ years of race promotion I had a handful of people that were always there. It didn’t matter what you wanted or asked them to do, they came to help.
Then, there were the others. The were the people that would say “I’ll volunteer if…” or you’d have to say “I’ll give you or pay you….” Last time I checked volunteer had a little different meaning.
Main Entry: 1vol·un·teer
Etymology: obsolete French voluntaire (now volontaire), from voluntaire, adjective, voluntary, from Old French, from Latin voluntarius
1 : a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service: as a : one who enters into military service voluntarily b (1) : one who renders a service or takes part in a transaction while having no legal concern or interest (2) : one who receives a conveyance or transfer of property without giving valuable consideration
Back to my story.
I got ready, went to the meeting and then lined up for the start. We did a loop around the small base ‘town’ and then back through the start/finish area. Oh.. we were following the mayor/burgermeister wearing a Top Hat on the back of a tandem mountain bike whilst doing this. After the start/finish, they peeled off and we were off.
I say that we were off… In reality, I should probably use a slightly different term as the ground wasn’t really wet, just really soft. It felt a bit like riding continually through water. Having the constant resistance will wear your ass out. Trust me on this one!
My, should I say, everyone else’s plan for me was to do 3 laps or 3 hours right off the bat. I did two (I could have done more) and had Kera go. She did her couple and the course started to dry out as the wind kicked up a bit and the heat soared. By the middle of the after noon, we were racking up laps and we sat +/- the middle of the overall placings. We never paid much attention to our actual places though.
Later in the afternoon, I went out again, did 3 laps (2 of my fastest) and then Kera (who the heat really bothered), Matthias & then Christian. About 7:45 p.m. they announced that anyone coming in after 8:00 p.m./20:00 would not have that lap counted. So, we were anxiously awaiting Christians arrival to see if I could do another lap. Stupid me, I’d never checked what my lap times really were. It was all just ideas of time in my head.
Christian arrived about 8:10 and I deemed it a bit to late for me to attempt another lap. I knew if I did one and it didn’t count, I’d be pissed! As it turned out, I could probably pretty easily have completed a lap as my slowest lap was about 43:06 and my fastest was 37:02.
Anyway, we were just having fun and had no clue that we were even in the running for a place on the podium. We ate some awesome dinner provided by Anna & Christian, had a couple of beers and a lot of water and then wandered down to the award ceremony. The started working their way through the awards and then started reading off the names of teams in our class. They named a few, then 1/2 dozen or so with the same laps as us and then said (in Deutsche) that we’d gotten 3rd. What the….?!! Woohoo!
Up we all went. The mayor gave us our cool trophy, a cool book from Specialized celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Stumpjumper and we each got a bottle of local wine. Not bad for a 35 Euro entry fee. Guess we’ll have to go back next year to defend the crown.
I just wanted to say two more things. Thanks to Kera, Anna, Christian & Matthias as well as everyone that helped or was with the Külsheim race. A definite good time. I forgot to mention that 3 of the 4 of us were on singlespeeds for the race too. 🙂
Next up… SiS. PHATY…we’re coming to see you bubba!