Change in plans

Change in plans

This is the motto of my last trip and race to Romania. After long hours of travelling (because of the many villages we pass near Bucharest and there’s a speed limit accordingly), we arrived at the hotel. We saw that it was the best hotel in the region but to our surprise, I had booked it for 21st instead of 20th. Very very stupid of me! And they didn’t have vacancies any more. The receptionist at Casa Cu Tei was very kind to find us a new place. So we changed the hotel and we were very kindly welcomed by our new hosts in Hotel Caprise. Thank you people!

Our next plan was to relax a little bit after the driving and to see the finishing descent of the long course. Well, only a few minutes later the sky changed into dark blue and the wind started blowing. It was a sure sign of a storm coming. I wasn’t wrong: soon pouring rain came down and it continued a few hours. First, we changed the plans from riding the course to lying in bed some more time. After the rain stopped, we walked a little bit around Sarata Monteoru: a nice resort near a small mountain where the local club XC Riders organized this nice race with two possibilities: long course and short course. The Bulgarian team were 3 people: Galin and I were supposed to ride the 65 km with 1800 m ascent and our young teammate was going to ride 30 km with 800 m ascent. We were a little worried about the weather conditions because a lot of rain on the previous night means a lot of mud on the next day. And a lot of mud means damage to the bikes, hard terrain to ride and very unpleasant to clean all the equipment. But we are used to difficult conditions so nobody spoke of quitting or not riding because of the weather. Our Shumen team Ilchov bair is tough! We were really surprised by the beginning of the course because on our walk we saw that it was very long asphalt and very steep asphalt.

Everybody was calculating percentages, inclines, gears, strategies. But still, we kept enjoying the beautiful scenery when we got to the end of the asphalt road.

This was the end of our short trip and we returned to the hotel to have dinner and relax. We went to bed early and in the morning….

O dear! I have to hurry! This was my first thought in the morning but not because I overslept for the start but because I had to be in a hurry for the toilet. I had stomach problems. What a pity! I spent time on preparation, traveling, thinking and dreaming of this nice race but now I am sick with stomach flu. What is more, I didn’t have a thermometer but my teammate Irena told me that I was running temperature. That sucks even more! I took a pill and I knew it would help the temperature but I didn’t have a pill for the diarrhea. I remembered my teammate Chanev telling me stories of his last race how he had to pull over and visit the bushes in emergency. I considered something like this.  I felt like I had to preserve all my energy and I had time to lay in bed until the pill takes effect and the symptoms subside. I had prepared a bottle of magnesium to prevent cramps but when I read that magnesium is used to cleanse the bowels and in cases of constipation, I had to change the plan again and threw the magnesium out. But soon this happy time of relaxation ended and I had to get registration number from the start. Our hotel was really close to the start and I could see people coming with bikes on their cars, there was music, people opening organizer’s tents, etc. all these things that accompany races.

When our team was ready and fully equipped, we went to the start and we started to warm up in the cold morning. The organizers said that they had changed the course for the long marathon: instead of the long course we were supposed to ride the small course 2 loops. I had mixed feeling: with calculation I realized that the ascent of the new course would be less than the original one and with my stomach condition it was better. But still…I was there not only to race but also to explore this unknown region and to enjoy as much as I can the 65 kilometers. But organizer’s decision is organizer’s decision so there was nothing I could do. I accepted this change of plan and stood at the start. I saw that two of the very strong competitors from Romania were missing from my grid: Doina Titei from Merida had decided to ride the short course and Irina Dimitru from Bike Expert didn’t show up at all. That meant change of plan again: I didn’t have to ride at my maximum to win the race. This was not a bad idea because I was still afraid that my stomach and body could become worse. I had had such a race a few years ago and I was DNF. So we started climbing the first long and steep asphalt road. I was the first woman from both courses and at the end of the climb I looked back. There was nobody behind me so from now on I could enjoy my ride without pushing too hard. I started chatting with boys, smiling at checkpoints, playing on the course. I had time to drink and eat but I felt more like drinking than eating. I felt dehydrated because of the stomach problems so the isotonic drink (thank you, 4fitness) saved my life and I felt better. Of course I rode with tempo, I was still in the race. Since my last rides I am paranoid: I always think that I have a flat tire. Especially when we passed a muddy place, some mud gathered around the wheels and it created some kind of meandering movement which resembled the feeling of having a flat. I defied the urge to get off the bike and check tire pressure and continued riding. Obviously, my feeling was deceitful but anyway, I was really careful in the rocky downhills. The course which XC Riders had selected was a really nice one: it had a perfect flow in the forests with kilometers of winding singletracks. It was a very fast one so I finished my first loop in after 1 hour and 25 minutes and I wasn’t even tired. I started the second lap and instead of going the same steep asphalt, the organizers directed me to another asphalt road which was longer but less steep. I wondered whether there had been another change of plan and if they decided still to race the long course but I was going to understand this after the asphalt uphill. If I was to turn right, I was supposed to go to the short course one more time. If the turn was left, the organizers decided to do the long course. It turned out my first guess: turn to the right and go a second time on the short course. I did the same again: rode with tempo, smiled at the checkpoints, chatted with some other boys and finished first in my category.

My teammate Irena was 4th in her category which is a very good result for her young age and my teammate Galin finished 8th in his category. He is a very strong rider but he needs to do some adjustments to his bike to gain more stability on the descents. We were satisfied by the race because it didn’t rain, the organization was very good, nobody fell and we all finished safe and sound. It was time to go back to Bulgaria. 

👤Aneliya Karagyozyan  🕔2015-06-22