Posted by Editoress on 05/3/05
Max Plaxton is living and racing in Europe this year. He has been sending in regular reports of his 'adventures'.
Report 4: Ups and Downs!
April 3rd was the Open de Espana # 2 on the Balearic island of Ibiza. I was pretty excited about going to Ibiza, mainly because whenever I watch one of those shows that rate the top party places in the world, Ibiza was always number 1. But this trip was not for partying, it was to race my bike. I met the team in the Barcelona airport April 2nd and flew there with time to check out the course in the p.m. I was excited to check out the course and try out my new bike that had just been built up with a 2006 Scandium M.S.C frame.
I managed to get out and ride before it started pissing down rain. The course was 5.5 km long; the first km ran along the beach, which was pretty nice, followed by a bunch of rocky loose single track on the side of a small hill. There was a major climb to the top followed by a super hairy downhill that seemed to get worse each lap. There was a little popper right after the descent with a long pinch flat fire road section and about 300 meters of pavement before the finish. I was really stoked about the circuit since I am a big fan of short courses with tricky single track and dry dusty conditions.
Unlike the NORBA's where some of the laps are so long you wonder if sometimes half way through a lap if you are still in civilization.
No national anthems before the race either........anyway.
So here's what happened: Little Miguel Martinez went from the gun, stayed away for the entire race. I worked together with my teammates Jordi and Marti with Marti jumping into 2nd until his derailleur broke. Jordi and I managed to stay around 3rd and 4th positions until the last lap where we both kind of blew. Unfortunately three guys passed us so we ended up 6th and 7th. Despite bonking I placed first U-23 with Mr. Lejaretta (Inaki) around 4 and a half minutes behind moi. I was the same time back from Martinez.
Sounds kind of complicated but its really not. Basically I was having a really good race always around 1 minute behind the leader in the top 3 until the last lap at around 2 hours when I blew fading to 7th. I need to learn to eat gels and that sort of crap even when I don't feel like it.
The bike worked really well except that this was my first race with SRAM's grip shift and I decided to wear short fingered glovesÃ¢Ë†â€˜not a good idea for my right hand's thumb. Got a really nice blister from the shifting.
The weekend was a blast and it wasn't too bad for the team. Marti would have finished a close 2nd to Martinez. Jordi finished 6th, myself 7th, and Alejandro 8th. Three guys in top ten aren't bad considering the level of racing in Spain right now is REALLY high. For those of you who don't know who Marti is, he was 2nd espoir at the Sierra Nevada World Champs in 2000. My other teammate Alejandro is a Spanish dood who placed 13th last year at the Madrid World Cup. All great guys.
Watching the Tour of Flanders and a Barcelona soccer game (my favourite team) finished up the weekend. I took a flight from Ibiza to Barcelona and then home to Trish.
The following week was a hard one. Many double days and lots of 3-4 hour rides at specific heart rates. Felt really good during the week so I was curious on how I would feel that weekend since there were races both Saturday and Sunday.
That weekend was April 9th and 10th, round two of the Copa Catalana International. Saturday the 9th was a 4 km time trial. It was good to get the feeling of the course at race pace since the tt was part of the xc. It started with a big fire road climb, followed by a tricky technical single-track climb, and a bunch of trails leading back down to the start finish. I knew that I should not try to ride the tricky single-track climb but I did anyway and that was the screw up.
I started 2nd to last because I finished 6th at the previous race and 4 of the guys that were in the top 6th weren't there (Hermida, Ravanel etc.). I felt really good right away and was climbing super well. I got to the climb and I tried to ride it. Bad idea, I fell back and lost some valuable time. I ran up and got on my bike and gave 'er to the finish. I lost by 1 second. Some guy I had never heard of won. My team-mate Jordi had a wicked crash finishing 4th, only 4 seconds behind. If it wasn't for the crash........
Trishie was second as well around 3 seconds down from fellow beaver Martina Feldman who took the win in the women's category. After awards Trish and I did a lap of the awesome xc course; Trish kind of bonked.
Sunday was the XC day. I felt really good. I actually came through the first lap in 1st place taking the 100-EURO bonus. After the first lap I kind of sat up and waited for a small group behind me including Jordi and Marti plus Lejaretta and the current overall leader Marc Trayter. Lejaretta blew pretty good so it was just the 4 of us. We constantly attacked Marc finally with Marti getting a good gap with 2 laps to go. I just sat on Marc's wheel letting him pull. With half a lap to go, I was told Marti's gap was too big to close so I attacked Marc on the last climb making it a 1-2 for Maxxis-Msc. Jordi, by the way, flatted and crashed.
Again I was first sub-21. Trish didn't have the best day finishing 4th, having mountain biked maybe 4 times since her knee operation last October.
The following week was a big training week with the focus on the first World Cups.
April 17th was the Open de Espana # 3 plus the Maxxis Cup International # 2 in Pontevedra just outside of Vigo in northwest Spain. I was excited for this race because I knew it was going to be muddy and technical, something I hadn't seen yet this year.
It poured rain the entire weekend and it was cold. The start of the race was on this skinny little road with about only 6 guys in each row. I had not raced the first Maxxis Cup because I was sick and the team had missed the first Open de Espana so I was not called up top 20. Some races are just organized very poorly, as was this one. They called up the top 20 and then everyone else just rushed to the line. Sounds pretty normal doesn't it? Well not if the call up place is half a km to the line. I got caught in the middle of everybody sprinting to the line with crashes and the whole works.
Nuff' said I ended up on the start line on around the 7th line surrounded by a bunch of jits.
I don't need to go into much detail about this race but I will just say that I lasted 15 minutes before pulling the plug. I was very close to crashing a lot so I thought it would be a smart idea to save my legs and body for the 1st World Cup in Spa. So I hoped.....
Spa-Francorchamps; some of you may of heard of area because one of the World Cup F1 races happens to be there. The venue was super nice, kind of reminded me of Sea Otter a bit. The start was on the racetrack etc.
The team left early Friday morning from Girona, arrived in Brussels soon after and drove to Spa. Got on the course for an easy first lap Friday afternoon and a road spin. My first thought of the course was a positive perspective. It was probably one of the harder courses I have done: hard rooty, muddy descents followed by technical uphill climbs with not too much rest. Not to forget the initial climb from the start on the pavement up the racetrack.
Saturday was a normal pre-race day, 3 laps of the course with the 2nd being a semi fast lap. I was super excited since I was riding the technical really well and felt smooth on the climbs.
Saturday afternoon: here is where things go wrong. So Trish, me and my team mate Jordi go for a walk and come across a friterie (hamburger place). I was hungry so hey, why not have a bite.
Saturday night: I wake up around midnight with stomach pains and nausea. The worst possible happens and I start puking like a madman. Diarrhea too, lots of it. After a good 4 hours of puking and crapping I finally get to sleep for a few hours. I was pretty doubtful of starting the race since I didn't feel like eating breakfast even though I had lost every ounce of fluid and food in my body. I felt like I had done a million sit-ups from puking so much. I manage too eat an egg and some toast and get out for my usual easy 1 hour ride. I was riding and thinking why does this shit always happen to me? I could hardly eat any more before the race.
I was called up 36th. Not bad, 4th row. Bang! I had a so-so start hitting the single track maybe top-50. Of course tons of cluster on the first climb forcing everyone to run (for me walk). It was just impossible to push myself. I ended up doing 3 laps losing around 30 spots each lap eventually dropping out on the start of the 4th lap (5 laps). It was a hard moment since this was the first race of the year that I wanted to have a good race. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh well.
Only thing I regret was not dropping out earlier so I could have gone and seen the Liege-Bastonge-Liege that went through the town we were staying at a few km's away.
Our flight was delayed Monday evening for 4 hours so we all spent some good time at the cervesseria. 3 beer 12 euros!! Not cheap but damn good beer, too good. Finally got home around 2 a.m.
Well I don't look forward to starting way back in Madrid but what can ya do. Oh and what's up with me being the only Canadian male at the Euro world cups?
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