Regional Championships Hill Road Race

After what feels like an eternity, the first real races slowly reappear on the calendar. That in itself is motivation enough for me, so I'm not picky about the discipline. After I tried out time trials two weeks ago, last weekend the national championship hill was on the agenda. It was a bike race on the road, held on a hilly circuit. I was sure it would be more my thing than time trials.

Regional Championships Hill Road Race

The weather suits me better this time too. Because instead of wet roads we have sunshine and over 30 degrees. 

I like racing in these high temperatures. Not only do I hate freezing and feeling cold all the time, but also because they are so chilled out. Nobody moves more than absolutely necessary, you lie / sit / stand in the shade as long as possible and just try not to get overexcited. At least until the race starts.

At the start no one wants to move up to the start-line, because it is directly in the sun. But three meters behind it there is shadow. But when the last minute is announced, all calmness is gone.

The race begins fast, because a few meters behind the start there is a downhill, where everybody wants to be in front. Of course I can’t get into my pedals. I’m the last to turn into the descent and somehow try to get further to the front, which is completely hopeless. After all, that’s what everyone wants.

In the following climb I willingly invest a bit more to get into a safer position. That worked just fine this time.

There I make myself comfortable (not really) and watch the rest. I’m glad to be in a position where I have an overview of the race and can react if someone attacks. At least mentally it is comfortable in such a position. Physically but very exhausting. The first women are dropped.

I also cannot stay there as long as I had hoped, because some men (we started together with the men of the seniors 2) are increasing the pace on the climb. I try everything to stay in the field somehow, but it is simply not enough.

The gap is getting bigger slowly but surely. Can they please slow down a little bit? Just a little bit, that would be enough. Because I firmly believe that this is exactly what is about to happen, I continue to ride as fast as I can. On the uphill the slipstream doesn’t play such a big role, so I might be able to close the gap again as soon as there is a slight deceleration. At least that’s what I tell myself.

I remain half right. The front of the pack is still going at its pace (if I can judge that), but I’m not the only one who can’t follow. And suddenly I see how the other women, who had done well at the front until then, have trouble keeping up. This motivates me so much that I close the gap to their wheels with a short push. We look at each other. There are three of us, all at the limit, we are leading. The pace drops immediately.

No plan but fun

Lap after lap goes by. I’m a little confused. I had thought about my tactics beforehand, but somehow it hadn’t even slipped my mind that I would be one of the three leaders. Especially not to be able to follow a tactic in this situation and not just fight for survival. But I feel really good there!

I’m willing to take over a large part of leading, also because I feel safest at the front of the downhill. Being up here at the front is a great feeling and gives me self-confidence. I feel better with every lap.

But I’m slowly getting nervous. Everyone wants to win this race and I wonder when something will happen. I believe that I am physically able to win, but I don’t know how to do it. While I’ m still thinking about when I’m going to attack best, we go back uphill and I suddenly have a small gap because I took the corner on the inside. I don’t think for a long time, I just start to go.

I don’t drop my rivals. But I hope that they suffer more than I do right now. I can hear their breath right behind me. As I reduce the pace and turn around, I see that they don’t seem any fresher than me. Very good. The harder the final laps get now, the better for me, I guess. It’s no secret that I can’t really sprint, but climbing seems to be just fine for me today. 

The final

While I try to recover, we are caught by the senior’s leaders. Stefanie cleverly uses the moment to attack and go right along with them. I react immediately, but it’s too fast. Our group is breaking up. I try my best, but I am not able to follow either. This is the decisive moment for the race, I think, now she is riding to victory. 

I have never been so close to a victory before, I can’t just let it go now. I can’t let a gap open on the climb and then that’s it. No, I don’t want to let this chance slip away yet. I mobilize my last reserves and close the gap.

Now there are only two of us left (plus the leading men). I try to recover downhill and just don’t let any more gaps appear uphill. 

And then we are already in the last lap. I’m taking the lead as before, I want to keep control and set the pace. In the final ascent I’ll speed up and gradually increase the pace. The breath of the rival in my neck keeps pushing me. At the top it would be flatter and definitely come to the sprint, but I want to make it as hard and „not-sprint-like” as possible. As we get to the flatter part, Stefanie kicks off, we are side by side and I push as hard as I can. Millimeter by millimeter Stefanie moves forward, but I will not give up today. I counter as best I can and suddenly it’s over. I’m in front, nobody beside me anymore, there is the finish line. I have really won my first elite race. 

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Josephine Noack
Josephine Noack
I'm the head coach of noack sport support and sports-scientist. As an athlete, I compete in cross-triathlon, normal short-distance triathlon, MTB-Marathon, road crits, and cyclocross during the winter.

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