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Race Report: Double Insanity Weekend (2)

Part 2: Salzkammergut Trophy, 208km MTB Race

Given that my plans included more than just one race, I took it very easy, especially on the first few climbs. After the start, the course heads almost directly into the first long (~10km and 900m vertical) climb. Which is actually one of the things I really like about the Salzkammergut Trophy: most of the climbs are quite long and allow you to settle into a good rhythm. And of course the descents are equally long and fast. Awesome.

I rode by myself for quite a while, passing and getting passed by others and never bothering to maybe keep up with others as I’d usually do. The forecast was fairly bad, however the first few hours of riding were overcast but dry. The rain came later, just as the 100km riders were about to get on their way at 9am.

Fortunately most of the trails were still fairly dry, and even with the rain it all was well rideable at first. With the long climbs it was also easy to keep warm, and the downhills were over rather quickly. Plus, the rain subsided after a while…

The Trophy course isn’t all gravel roads; there are some passages that are fairly technical, and a few selected pieces (such as the awesome Jochwand-Trail) are available only to the 200km riders. But that came much later; at first we passed through the Ewige Wand, an awesome traverse on a path cut into a vertical rock wall (check out the NYX Photoreport for a few impressions).

Somewhere along the way I met Manuel, a fellow Bikeboard.at user, and we ended up chatting and riding together for the better part of the race. We actually came back to parts of the course a second time, as the 200km course looped back after an initial detour. However, by then all the 100km riders had passed through, and the conditions on the trails had severely deteriorated. What had been a rocky trail with some mud had now become a huge slippery mess, and some sections were simply unrideable without severe risk of wiping out.

Riding together really made the course seem much shorter, and we had a great time.. the weather was fairly reasonable most of the time, with intermittent but harmless rain. At least it wasn’t as hot as last year (up to 38ºC, according to some). There are some extremely steep passages that are a bit cumbersome, but the one climb I really hate is the detour to Chorinskyklause and up to the trail head of the Jochwand Trail. It is actually very easy and simple and not too long (500m vertical over about 15km) but it is somewhat unnerving because it is hard to judge one’s progress and comes fairly late in the race (after 130km).

However, the climb is rewarded with the Jochwand trail, a steep and rocky passage that is very difficult to ride, especially after more than 7 hours of riding. Great fun, though.

After that, we came onto the part of the course that I hadn’t seen before. There was a fairly flat section along the Hallstätter See, and then came the longest climb of the race, about 1000m of climbing over 10km. That was over surprisingly quickly, except for two rather unnerving things. The fairly good weather was replaced by heavy rain, and we noticed that I had lost one bolt of the rear suspension assembly, and it was slowly dismantling itself. Fortunately we managed to keep that under control by hammering the remaining part back into place every once in a while with rocks.

After the long climb we only had one long downhill, and another, shorter climb, and then it was all downhill to the finish. Right before the last climb we passed through an aid station that was set up inside a beer tent, and for a few moments we passed through the topical Gemütlichkeit usually associated with such events. However, we didn’t spend much time there with the goal almost in sight…

After the final descent, the remaining 10km were fairly flat back to Bad Goisern, and a good part of that on roads. We were riding through a true torrential downpour by now … with a little luck we might make a 13:xx time, so we did our best to keep the pace up, despite fatigue and bad conditions. Unfortunately we didn’t quite make it (14:01:xx), but that didn’t really matter. We had finished with ample time to spare until the cutoff, Manuel his first attempt at this distance and my first go on this course.

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