In my youth I traveled with my parents every year to the slopes in Małe Cichy. I was the king of skis. I do not know if it's the best but definitely the fastest one. Braking, turning, slalom - these are unnecessary tricks when you can go down to the creche. A few years later, when I first appeared on the Austrian slope, I immediately turned onto a black route with the beautifully sounding name of Harakiri. 20 yards later, my pants were torn in a pace, I was riding this huge plow. True story. I have similar memories from Bike Maraton Jelenia Góra.
Once, a long time ago, when my feet were overgrown and my stomach was shaking a pleasant shade, I used MTB. Sometimes I even raced. Somehow it was so strange that I never got a thick tire in the mountains. The Mazovia route in Supraśl was the biggest hardboard for me. I thought it was time to change that, and from time to time I speak here on topics related to mountain biking. Now, instead of per "a guy who has never been a mountaineer in the mountains speaks" I will "A guy who once went to the mountains on the highlander and thinks he knows everything". It's always a qualitative leap. Is there a better excuse to try this sport than the race from the Bike Marathon series in Jelenia Góra? I doubt it. Let's start in turn.
We arrive in Karkonosze on Friday. Leaving Warsaw before 18, we check in at around 22pm. We live in the Śnieżka settlement. If you've watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Lost Skull, you may remember how he ended up in a town built only to experimentally blow them off the face of the earth with a bomb (link to youtube). Local ecosystem, identical and ideal houses, minimal equipment, eateries, swimming pools and Swedish tables, through which the average of 1 kg per day on the back. A bit artificial, a bit strange, a bit like a new, guarded estate in Kabaty.
It does not matter. In the first weekend of June, the Śnieżka settlement was the capital of the MTB. All licensed players, team service, coaches ... and us lived here.
In the picture from the left: Ania (25/7, Bike magazine), me, Pau Salva (Kross New Race Team), Panda, Majka Włoszczowska and Jolanda Neff. A working eye will pay attention to the plates here. I am delighted with Jolanda, because normally it's my plate, because of the exceptional laziness and greed, looks like a student refrigerator mix, meanwhile, we can see the leftovers of the meal, which consisted of everything. Including broccoli and puffs topped with strawberry sauce. Kitchen fusion in the best word of it.
Getting back to the point: thank you Maja for the invitation, as a rule, thanks to which we suspected the licensed world from the kitchen.
The first day - Karkonoska Pass
It's funny, but Panda has never been on the Karkonoska Pass (a link to the description). She heard about it about seven thousand times, always in the worst epithets, but at the same time admiration. That he kills, that he is unsuspecting, that same suffering. After driving Punta Veleno a month earlier, the pass can make an impression? There is only one way to check it out.
We are starting at 8am, because before the 14th the elite races begin in XC, which we really want to make. There are only 3 rides through the Giant Mountains: near Harrachov, Karkonoska (called the Rebirth from the shelter located on the top) and Okraj Pass, which we are returning. In the minimum version, the loop is approximately 110 km and more than 2000 m vertically (Strava). That's a lot, and the Czech Giant Mountains are difficult. Really difficult. You can read a little more about them entry about Kross bikes, which I had the opportunity to test there.
Moving from Podgorzyn, the driveway is almost 10 kilometers with an average gradient of 8%. A lot, but the key are the last 2-3 kilometers, where the inclinations exceed the average 2-3 times. Is it hard? Is. After all, it is one of the most difficult climbs in Poland. Asphalt is contrary to the general opinion sufficient, passing moderate with approaching the top (huge holes that can kill at the exit) - that's why this road goes only up. There are no impressive views, no curves, nothing interesting. The beginning is a bit Liguria looking at the buildings, then there is only forest and funny signs on the asphalt, to admire which is a lot of time, because the speed is circulating somewhere around the autopause.
A real driveway starts behind the famous barrier. All seriously training people turn around with him. Only madmen run for him.
Markings on the road precisely inform us that it is still 300 meters, and a moment later a kilometer etc. They also inform us that we are horses.
Panda drives the whole thing. Let's be honest: the uphill is very steep, but it is short. The worst of a few to a dozen or so minutes can be pushed through with teeth. I think that 36-28 should be enough for the golfer. As soon as we start exploring the Czech side or go to the area on the MTB (which is about to happen), it turns out that such slopes are not anything special. Although probably in racing conditions, taking into account all the ramps, it is a killer .... in contrast, what is ahead of us. The exit towards Spindleruv Mlyn is a complete opposite - a wide and perfectly level highway. Through forests, towns living from tourism, by the lake and by the river, very charming.
On the way back we still have Okraj, which as a driveway is nice but extremely boring, and as the exit to the north is like riding a racer. Mainly thanks to the surface and gentle bends (it's about 15km of non-stop). We still have a little surprise ahead of us - the way through the Black Bottom. Last year, when I hit her on a full bomb, I was sure I would die. Nobody would find me a minimum for a month. The path is exceptionally pretty:
Like Czarna Wisełka in Szczyrk - narrow climbs up through the forest and along the small river. Only that it is narrower, much steeper and definitely less visited. 8.5 kilometers with an average of 8% is a surprise that nothing is announced. Especially that the middle 4 have more than 11%, and in places definitely exceeds 15%. You go and think that you will die, but at least in the wonderful circumstances of nature. Then there are only terrains of ski slopes and tourist resorts - it means again big inclinations, but about it at another time (or in the previously linked entry about Kross).
We reach the point of contact, because our average is dizzying 22km / h. At the time, I thought it was ridiculously little. A day later, my perception of speed has changed significantly.
Jelenia Góra Trophy Maja Włoszczowska MTB Race
Very long name, very difficult race. That's how I remembered him from two years ago (here is the report from 2014when I was editing boring movies). Loops, stones, drums, roots, driveways, crazy descents, dumps, defects - everything the fan likes the most. Especially if we add a hellishly strong cast to it. There is a lot of people, you can only dream about how beautiful it would be if there were such crowds on each race. Although we all know well that they did not come here to watch the race - they came for Majka, who is Michael Jordan cycling in Poland. Really, if you ask a random person on the street for a known cyclist, the answer in 86% of cases will be one. A statistical passer-by does not associate Kwiatkowski ("this vocalist?") Or Rafał Majka ("hmm, this guy from the polka-dot shirt?"). I think that no sportsman has such recognition as Majka in Jelenia Góra.
The race is watching great. It is also one of the few disciplines in which women's race is more popular than men's. Half of the people are left in the elite. This is another proof that we do not always watch sport, but rather prefer to look at our idols.
I am observing with some anxiety about what is happening on the route. I remember slowly how racing in the field looks like. The next day, the same thing awaits me. Everyone points out that the Sunday route has nothing to do with the Saturday XC, but I know they are lying. Here is the area, there will also be an area.
In the morning, when I check the description of the upcoming race, it sounds something like: "a lot of steep climbs, technical descents, background of roses - a lot of loose stones, descents on large stones, ground driveways" - 6/6 scale of difficulty. This is of course Giga, because Mega is for girls, and Mini for children. As it turns out later - Jolanda, who goes Giga, pats me 70 minutes. Yes, 70 minutes on 87 kilometers. A girl younger than me by 7 years, in borrowed, too big shirt ;-) Not only that, in total, 8 out of 9 starting girls have overtaken me.
Bike Marathon, the day I understood
Sunday morning is the moment when I get on the bike for the first time, which I will ride. On the steering wheel it has over 3 times more buttons than my car, fortunately I have a lot of kilometers to master this. It's Scott Spark 910 on custom wheels. The Internet says something about PLN 20,000, it will stupidly break it.
In addition, the bike is heavy, which makes it hard for me to wear it on the road and pushes uphill, has a wide tire, so I drive slowly on the asphalt and is black and red, so I do not like Panda. Przemek, who lends me a bicycle, suggests that I put my saddle in. Subconsciously I sense that it has to do with the fact that he knows the route of the race, and I, when it comes to reunions, am quite timid ;-)
[pullquote] People are divided into those who have backups and those who will have them. [/ pullquote] As if that was not enough, GoPro dies with me all along with all the photos I had on the card. Therefore, instead of photos from the race, I paste photos from the Sunday walk ;-)
The route has 87km and 2690m surges, of which the first 15 and the last 15 are almost flat. As a roadster, I find this impossible and misrepresented. It was not like that. I am standing in the last sector, where the atmosphere prevails a bit like during a family parade. Children, gentlemen with a tummy, hypermarkets - most of them are technically better than me anyway. For the 50 minutes that I spend there, I hear many interesting stories that I will never hear again. The plan is simple: on the start full gas, because the asphalt, and then I keep the pace (the famous technique of the time: half as much strength in your legs, and then you keep it to the finish line). I try to survive the reunions, I make up for the climbs because I'm strong after all. It sounds brilliant in its simplicity.
The plan works. on the first several kilometers I overtake hundreds of people. I pass hundreds more on the uphills. I am driving 8km / h, they are 6km / h - we are overtaking like a TIRy A4. I think I missed my calling, I'm a born MTB. Even at downhills is not so bad. I go where everyone goes down, run away where others are running away. I wonder how much I will catch up with Jolanda, who started 20 minutes earlier. At the 10th kilometer (ie 18 minute drive) there is a Mini turnout and other distances - half the people disappear.
It turns out that for 1278 people who completed the Bike Marathon, 153 went on Giga, on the Mega 460, and on the Mini 665.
At the 34th kilometer on which the Mega-Giga is located, I am already traveled, and it is only a 2-hour drive. According to the description of the route, I remember that this is where the real ride begins. I am practically alone, everyone is either turned for short distances or they are far away from me. The winner of the race has 40 minutes of advantage ahead of me. The calculation starts - I take my current speed, I divide my distance and I am not going to work on Monday. But how, after all, difficult downhill runs and tiring driveways were already ... well, no!
The route is difficult. Assemblies often consist of stones, which not only that I can not drive, even to carry a bicycle. I go with him or next, or move. Each of the stones is already seriously scraped from the gears of people who were here before me. Similarly, I pass the mud sections ... and those with roots. From time to time, someone is ahead of me at the exit going around 20km / h faster. After a moment, I see a person making up in a ditch - in a moment he will overtake me again. These people are probably rubber, after such a flight by the steering wheel on the road, the collarbone is growing a month.
I will say it directly: I can not imagine that a road route could be so difficult, not only technically but also effortlessly. It is not possible. Yes, Tatra Road Race it is difficult, but it is a different league after all. Here is the pogrom. I'm not racing, I'm fighting for my life. The climbs are so steep that it's quicker to go with a bike than to go there. Authentically, sometimes I'm driving after someone, and then to get out of it I get off the bike and in this way I'm going to the top. It's not even that I had a bomb - I felt great. I ate, drank, topped up at the buffets, but I was just too weak for this tour. I understand why not everyone chooses Giga. It's like throwing yourself at a marathon knowing that you'll be able to defeat him in six hours. As a trip - great as a racing - no sense, because it is no longer racing. Of course, the sick ambition reminds me that when I come back someday, I will again choose the longest option.
The ride is so embarrassing that trying to get off the bike before the next impassable section for me, I pass my leg over the saddle ... and I forget that it is much higher than on the road. I get stuck in this position - the leg hooks with a knee against the saddle and does not budge. It does not seem to be a mycan that leaves the seatpost, for too little pressure. You're catching up with me from a shorter distance and asking if help, pushing my thigh. I'm beginning to consider participating in the nearest Critical Mass ...
When everything is all right for me, and even at downhill rides, I start to go boldly, a long-awaited storm comes. The wall of rain gently cools the body, the surface becomes slippery, and the mud, flying in all directions, tilts the lenses in my eyes. A beautiful life, a beautiful weekend, an excellent choice. I am proud of myself.
On the flattening at the end my strength returns, it only confirms the fact that it was not a bomb, but weakness. At the finish line I register as 131, 181 starters and 153 who have finished.
I got a school of life. I reminded you that the mountains verify the form - even if you are a good Mazovian cyclist, you come in the main group and sometimes even take a break, in a difficult area you are half as weak as the elite (my 5:43 vs 3:48 Adrian Brzózki).
In the shower I spend in full dress with 15 minutes trying to wash away mud and shame. I do not even take my bathing shoes off. I know well that the sand will be in them until November ... just like the one in my teeth. My hands look from this moisture as if I have already spent 4 hours in this bathtub.
Was it worth it to go crazy?
Well, in retrospect, such events always seem cool. If you would ask me somewhere between 40 and 70 kilometers, my answer would be: NEVER AGAIN. One thing is for sure, MTB in the mountains is a completely different sport than MTB anywhere else. I can understand that with the right technique, it provides a lot of fun. I also stop laughing today from people who choose shorter distances. You need a really solid form to race on jigs and get joy out of it.
In MTB, it hurts me that the bike needs to be serviced. Especially in Warsaw it is painful because the trip to the site is half a day and half a wallet. Locks, shock absorbers, cables and armor, saw plates, bearings, supports - all this suffers. And unfortunately, in mountain biking equipment is DEFINITELY more impact on the ride than on the road. Smooth-running shock absorbers make it easier to overcome the route, and changing gears with a frozen hand in very muddy conditions is not always easy. Not to mention the weight of the whole set, which we jump at every moment, we throw or wear.
On Monday, the Lord rested.
It is not often that I do not want to go on a bike having a day off. Especially when I'm in the mountains. This time it was like that. Despite Modra Sedla and Zlate Navrsi planned for this day (I do not know how to change it), we decide to take a walk to Śnieżka. Karkonosze are brilliant for walks, because there are many trails, they are well-marked, and the routes are not very difficult. Not only that - we buy a ticket to the park via the Internet. I will say this: it is beautiful, but the socks after more than a 20-kilometer walk have not passed today. Walking, however, is difficult ...
The worst of all is that if we are invited again next year, I am sure I will start again. Again, I will choose the longest distance and again I will think it is a bad decision. The damn syndrome of Stockholm ...