Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Within ninety minutes after crossing the finish line in Edmonton, I was checking in at the airport ready to travel to Germany for the my first WCS debut. For me, my world ranking is at the level where my entry into WCS events is possible but not certain. It was 10 days before the race that I found out I had rolled off the waitlist and onto the startlist, I was excited for the opportunity to race the best in the world.
So, arriving in Hamburg late Monday night the key to the week was to fully recover and keep the body moving. It drizzled throughout the week as we did our swims at the Alsterschimmhalle and ran and rode throughout the city and its beautiful parks. Saturday morning came and the skies were clear. A beautiful day ensued for racing.
I look at this event as the pinnacle of our sport in terms of organization, course layout, crowd presence, and overall atmosphere. Transition is within the city hall square and tens of thousands line the streets to cheer.
On the pontoon I set up shop right in the middle. I had a good start and avoided most contact with good water until the first right hander. Things started to pile up here quite a bit there as we made the turn. The swim didn’t seem any harder than WC level, or even a swimmers CC. It was however much more tactical and strategic, constant awareness of placement in the pack was always the task at hand. In this swim we went through a tunnel about 50m long three times. Having a pack of 65 men swim through a 10m wide tunnel is like floating down a river, the current was amazing! I exited the water in about the middle of the pack. I thought I had had a good transition however once onto the bike there was already a split in the group with the leaders of about 20, 15seconds up the road. Macca joined our small chase bunch mid-way through the first lap, a surprise but a pleasant one. The gap to the leaders stayed about the same for three laps and then suddenly it was closed very quickly. Once all together the pace did not slow. The bike was definitely another league in terms of pace, placement and handling. I struggled a bit here and could never work my way forward. More work to be done in this regard. With the addition of the Specialized Prime every lap and perhaps Macca this bike was a full minute quicker than the fastest bike split here in years past. It was on, and unfortunately my power meter was not working.
Into T2 I was in the back third of the group. I had a quick transition and got out at the back of the long chain of runners that snaked through the city streets. On the run you fully got an appreciation of the crowd intensity. I don’t think there was a section of 5m where there was a break in spectators. The bike had taken more out of me than I would have liked but I found my rhythm and focused on holding form and picking off guys ahead. On the last lap the crowd took me home, simply outstanding to have that type support inches from your skin.
Crossing in 37th was not great but I had weathered my first WCS storm and had come out on top of some established athletes and many others that simply didn’t survive the swim/bike.
I am now waiting to meet up with Kyle and Coach Jon here in Barcelona before we travel up to meet the rest of the Canadian crew in France.