“Steady away in that Salzkammer wotsit. Those climbs go on and on and on and on….”
Jason Miles never wastes his words and they are always worth listening to. And so it proved at my Austrian Salzkammergut Trophy race. After a fast start on the roads of Obertraun we looped round some local gravel trails for about 8 miles at a cracking pace before we hit the first of the days big climbs containing the infamous ‘Wall’ section. A section Jase described as the steepest road he’s ever seen tarmac on when he raced the monster Cat A race a few years ago. And he wasn’t wrong.
A zig-zagging section alongside the funicular at the start was bad enough but once the trail opened up it got properly steep. Crowds of supporters kept me going way longer than I really wanted to but in the end I had to walk – even then struggling up the final section of the Wall. At the top it levelled a little as we hit a fireroad that seemed to continue forever upwards. After 8.5 miles and 3079ft of climbing we topped out at 5000ft before starting a 6 mile gravel descent in the pouring rain – I forgot to mention the weather was the worst of week we were in Austria and then it threw it down for pretty much the whole day.
The descent was great fun with speeds averaging over 30mph but you needed to watch your braking on the gravel switchbacks. Way too easy to overcook one and have a nasty accident, as some did. Descent done, up we went again. And so it continued until the final big climb was done at just over 30 miles, leaving a fast flowing 17 miles to the finish. After having my arse kicked on the climbs I felt much more competitive on this section and managed to make up a good number of places.
The finish into the centre of Bad Goisern was brilliant with hundreds of supporters cheering everyone home. I crossed the line in 4hrs 38 for 47 miles and 7500ft of climbing. Chuffed to get over 10mph average (just), 140th out of 800, 23rd V50 out of 140 and 1st Brit! There might not have been many Brits 🙂
Five of us made the trip out to Austria to race in one of the wide variety of categories available:
On top of the these there was also a wild off-road unicycle downhill race and a CX gravel race as well.
Team JMCers Carl Salisbury completed the Cat B race in just over 8hrs, Lee Duplain the Cat C race in 5hrs 55, Sally Burgess the Cat E in 5hrs 3 and Cathy Jones the Cat F in 3hrs 36. Brilliant performances from all.
Arriving in Austria on the Monday before the Saturday racing we enjoyed an amazing time riding the local trails and exploring an absolutely beautiful part of the world.
Everywhere you looked there was an amazing view.
As the week progressed the town of just 7500 people swelled with the arrival of over 5000 bike racers (from over 40 nations) and their supporters. And over 90 exhibitors at a bike expo.
And post-race there was a huge party in the main marquee that went on until 2am in the morning. An event at which we ably represented the UK!
All in all a brilliant week, in a wonderful friendly place with a great race to top everything off. So good in fact that we have already booked our accommodation for next year’s race. See you there?