Doing the stage 1 recce yesterday was a good shout, knowing what was coming in terms of the loose terrain was useful and where the little pit falls were. The stage was fast and short on rolling terrain favouring the powerful riders who could put out the watts on the flat. Today's pace was somewhat quicker than our steady recce ride. Ouch.
Stage 1 went something like this
How great it is to be on the bike in shorts and jersey! And true to Lanzarote form, the wind was blowing this morning, cooling the air down at least. The rolling hills gave would give some protection from its constant swirl, but back out on the open plains it was best to sit in with a group. Finding yourself out there alone was tough.
Just 0ver 400 riders representing 16 countries lined up alongside the running track at a leisurely 1030. A little slack in our warm up regime, by the time we headed to the start just after 10, the start shute was already bursting with riders, eager for a good start. E3Coach was well represented with a number of his riders such as myself, junior rider James Houghton and Sam Pontling.
For stage 2 heading to the start early will be the plan! By 1015, nearly all riders were eagerly waiting at the start. The start chute was fairly wide, but there was still a good delay before we got going. Once out of the resort gates, it got going, fast! The first few km were at least on wide tracks, with plenty of passing opportunities, but it was tricky in the soft terrain requiring timing and reading the terrain. I got to practice my very rusty 'izquierda, derecha, medio!' On the left, right or in the middle, which seemed to work, but if that failed reverting to English seemed to! Everyone, despite pushing hard in those first kms, was curteous. A few shouts went out as as riders swerved infront of others, their front wheels sent offline by the soft dirt.
The pace was quick, oh so quick! Full xc pace, but using the combination of the Garmin Edge 1000 and the Rotor INPower it kept me from over doing it. The feedback post race from the Edge and INPower is great too, giving a whole lot of useful average data from the ride. More from those products as I train for the Cape Epic. The Specialized Epic I was on is built for racing. It is fast and efficient, the 'automatic' suspension means you can just simply ride without any lockout levers to be thinking about. Setting up the brain shock is simple too.
The first half of the stage headed gradually upwards, not to any great height, the climbs short and punchy, with tyre traction often at its limits in the loose volcanic dirt. The dust was flying! So much better than mud. A couple of sections the traction did run out and it was better to jump off and run then waste hard effort trying to pedal through what felt like thick treacle!
The views were pretty spectacular of the rolling volcanic lands, but with little shelter from the constant 40km/h winds. Once at the highest point it was some fast descending back down to the flats into the full force of the wind, past a 'danger' sign! Loose rock dropped riders into more fine volcanic dust half way down the fast descent, not a place for the front wheel to wash out!
This was time to find a group and sit in. With no climbs, it was super fast rolling terrain winding its way through volcanic agricultural fields, across open dusty and sandy terrain and twisting singletrack through volcanic rock fields back to the start.
With pros such as Sally Bigham, Soren Nissen and Karl Platt turning up the level here is super high even in the M40 category. The winning time was a blistering 1hr 15 for Soren Nissen, I was back in 1hr 28. Full results here.
Tomorrow’s stage takes us through the lavas fields and beautiful volcanic landscape near Timanfaya National Park. Slightly longer at 55km, it is still going to be fast!