I travelled down here with Paul having decided nearly a year a go that a road trip would be fun and less stressful than packing up bikes for a flight. He collected me from my sisters in London at 6:30pm on Monday and we headed to Dover arriving early enough to get on an earlier ferry. This gave us a little head start on our near 1,000 mile trip.
A few weeks before Paul had emailed with “good news and bad news” – bad news being his 10 year old Golf GTI had been nicked, the good news was he now had a 2 year old BWM 3 series estate diesel. I’ll be honest I couldn’t see the bad news since
1. We now had a car that I was confident would get us there
2. It’s my favourite car, one I used to own back in my Investment Banking life
3. It was diesel so there’d be fewer stops for fuel and it would be cheaper.
As we packed my stuff in the boot my sister commented that we couldn’t have got everything in the Golf. Yes … we were boys packing like girls. Actually I need to be honest – Paul packed like a girl ;o)
Off the ferry at midnight and I did the first stretch surprising myself with how awake I was. My afternoon nap clearly worked as I managed to drive 4 hours before needing to switch. It did include the best part of an hour moving a matter of a few KMs just outside Brussels at 1am. Then Paul switched in and I snoozed … we had a slight detour but other than that the driving was fun. The german Autobahns are quite something. You can be doing 90 mph and in the time between looks in your rear view mirror there’s suddenly either a Porsche, Merc or Audi right on your bumper. Some of these cars had to be travelling 130+mph. That said, driving seemed good with people pulling over to let fast cars by.
Both of us were trying to eat well so we’d packed up our low carb snacks. I’d commented to Paul that Jo and I always take hard boiled eggs. We ended up with 19 hard boils eggs between us in the car plus 300g of pork scratchings, loads of sausage and olives. We didn’t go hungry so avoided the temptation of choccie, pastries etc… each time we stopped for coffee.
We arrived in Klagenfurt at 2:30pm. It had taken 14.5 hours from Calais. DIdn’t feel that long but both of us started to wonder about how much fun the return journey will be especially when we had a deadline as we have a ferry to catch.
In the afternoon we wandered down to the Lake. Turned out it was about 5km so any idea of walking to and from the race went out the window. We go the bus back which will be our preferred mode of transport. It was so hot. Fingers crossed it’s not this hot come Sunday. We had a quick tea then early night.
Yesterday morning we’d planned on swimming and having gone to sleep at just after 8pm I was confident there’d be no issue getting there early.
Thing is we didn’t wake up till 9am so canned the swim. We did ride a lap of the course and boy oh boy this course is beautiful. Wanaka makes a big thing about being the most beautiful race in the world but I reckon this is competition, though Wanaka’s run is definitely more scenic. I was intrigued by the bike course because it’s so quick. Well it’s not due to the road surface as there were some sections where even British roads would compare favourably ! On the whole though the surface was pretty good. It’s not flat either – according to my gamin a lap had 750m of ascent (it’s a two lap course). However, there are big sections that appeared super fast and the first major climb (per the course profile) seemed hardly a climb at all for most of it. The tougher bit is in the final third of the lap and there is a pretty substantial climb. It has given me some confidence about a fast bike split (more on that in my next post about race hopes / plans).
I ran off the bike for 5km and felt pretty good. That is more or less it for me now. 3 days with pretty much nothing.
Back out for our second excellent meal in Klagenfurt. It’s a very nice little town with lots of squares and cafes to eat at. We bumped in to Toby on the way back and chilled out with him and Stel over a coffee. Always nice when you bump into friends at these events.
This morning the plan was to swim at 8am and we’d made vague arrangements to meet people at the swim. Quick breakie then jumped on our bus. Like locals already… not quite. Right bus, wrong direction. Second time I’ve made that error. Hoping I’ve learnt now. Based on the bus times I guessed the length of our journey so we just sat on it for an hour and saw the sites and arrived about 40 minutes later than planned. Still managed to bump in to Toby and have a coffee together but not in to Ian – sorry. Hopefully tomorrow.
We then registered and looked round the enormous expo. Even got bargain – sleeveless IM Austria cycle jersey for EUR10 ! The race venue is nicely set up with an bar / cafe area for athletes to hang out in. Already there’s a nice atmosphere developing.