Åndalsnes 14.july 2012. Low hanging clouds hide the mountains that I know to be there. Same story as last year, and the year before really. The memory of the mountain from 2009 lingers, and motivates though. Richard and his crew (mostly family really) have never failed to deliver a great event regardless of the conditions, but there was magic in those mountains in 2009. Will they be as magical today? During the race briefing Richard had explained that they had marked the run part well enough to guarantee that we'd be allowed up this time. Unless the weather made the bike leg impossible as it had last year. We were in for 6 brutal kilometers with 750 meters climb. I delivered the T2 box, and checked the bike one last time. Regretting for the last time that I only had an 12-26 cassette behind. Oh well. I'd get there in the end. The night before I had changed from the 11-25 that I had on there. Night before race bike mechanics is btw not recommended (I know that). The bike should be tested with the competition setup on a similar course as the event. Now something was not quite right. one of the cogs wiggled, when I turned the wheel. And the shifting was not true. In near panic I called out to my friend an bike guru Matz. He tried to tune it, and I made a couple of passes inside T1. No taking the bike out after bringing it into T1... We chose to have it shifting as clean as possible near the 26 cog. The flat part of the bike leg was after all only 20k. the final 14k would have between 8% and 10% incline. I settled with that and thought that I had done this before and that I was not here to compete. Only to enjoy the trip and the scenery. Another team mate was fixing his shoe horizontally with a rubber band. "So that was how you did it". As a bonus to my self I decided to try mounting the bike in a run, without training for it first. Not recommendable at all I know, but I mean this trip was all about the fun. As I was doing the last minute preparations I saw a guy with his family wearing T-shirts that spelled BØRGE when they stood side by side. Great to see such support! I became envious, and decided to cheer him too if I saw him during the event. This year I have focused on the running, ignoring the swimming and being a bit lax on the bike training has been the price. A recent change in my work responsibilities has also taken some time. My trip to the northern part of Norway had also prevented me from swimming with my team in Kyvannet. This would actually be my first swim in a wet suit this year. Not at all recommendable. The swim is where I previously have had some problems withe near panic situations. To counter this I got into the water early. About 10 minutes before the start. I got int the water. The swim had been shortened to 800m from 1200 due to the water temperature. It was pretty cold I involuntarily held my breath when I entered the water. That is a sign that it's cold and tha tit's very important to get accustomed to the water temperature. Good work Ole! The wetsuit socks that I bought the evening before (Yeah I know I should not do that...) was keeping my feet nice and warm. I warmed up swimming and threading the water for 10 minutes. Inspecting the stair that would get me out of the water again I realized that it was the same crappy construction as the two last years. If there is one point where I feel Trollveggen Triathlon has serious room for improvement is is that contraption. The water exit is onto a flotilla. The ladder does not have a hand rail, and the lowest step of the ladder is 10 cm below the water line. In effect you'll have to lift your foot as high as your chest to mount the ladder. Try doing that with a wet suit on. I'm seriously considering If I should sponsor them three professionally made ladders to go side by side. However 3000 NOK is a lot to spend on something I find annoying once a year..
And we're off. I had positioned myself far to the rear to have not get swum over when the "washing machine" starts. Bad move. lots of chest swimmers to navigate in the start. come the first buoy, I saw a peculiar sight. 5 guys using their hands to traverse sideways hanging onto the buoy. Since I was in a queue to get past the buoy I said "Guys you float in those suits, there's no sense in doing that. try swimming in stead" Some chest swimmers kept boxing me in for the rest of the swim. I'd navigate to the front of one and he'd switch to freestyle to not let me pass him. Then he had to switch back to chest swimming again because he was winded. since I had a veritable school of them all around me I could not get past them. without swimming over them. I did not swim a lot faster than them anyway, so I hung back and tried to enjoy the experience. I got my fair share of kicks and elbows on that swim, but no anxiety or anything. Probably because of the low intensity. Towards the end I managed to pass a few and got a good start at the ladder. This year Richard had placed three burly guys at the ladder, to haul us up. This made the exit kind of alright (although a bit humiliating).
T1 was a 50m run from the flotilla. Or in my case a 50 m slog. I had made the mistake of having the socks outside the wet suit. The water inside my suit poured out of my wet suit and into my new socks. I felt like I ran with giant balloons filled with water on my feet. So much for doing anything new on race day!
T1 was quick excepting the time I had to spend emptying my wet suit socks... Underneath I had a pair of socks for the bike ride. For 34km I'm not changing into dry socks. Running the 50m out of T2 without bike shoes on was a dream. The dream lasted until I mounted the bike. without the rubber band one shoe was on top end the other was up side down on the road. getting this situation cleared was somewhat of an ordeal. and took me about 1k before I was fully dressed for the ride. I still feel that it was faster than I would other vice have been.
The bike leg starts with a flatish 20k time trial that take you up to Trollveggen. Normally a spectacular wiew with it's 1000+ meeters of vertical cliff wall. Today the upper half was obscured by low hanging clouds. The route then turns around and goes down Romsdalen until the end of it. Then you turn left up the neighbour valley on the back side of Trollveggen. The final 10k climb is spectacular any day with serpentine turns and between 8% and 10% climbs. Mid way up the 700 meter climb you are cooled off by spray from a waterfall, as you pass the waterfall on a bridge. On this day the cool off was strictly speaking unnecessary, as 9 degrees and what was now considered fog and not low hanging clouds was chilly enough. I was wearing a tri suit and a woolen buff under the helmet. This proved adequate. As soon as I started biking I knew I was in for "a long day at the office". I had no power. The last training ride some three days earlier had involved powering up a 10% hill, and that had left me lactic to some degree. Then driving 1300km back down from Skjervøy and spending another day in the car getting to Åndalsnes had left me without bike legs. At least that is what I prefer to think. I could think that I had not been logging the hill workouts I should have this year, and that would have been equally true ;) The lack of power was however not my biggest concern. The sound of my gears was. I could see (and hear!) the two smallest cogs rotating freely on the hub axle. Crap! I had tools for a lot of cases, but tfor fixing this? nope. The shifting required delicate attention the rest of the ride. The chain got jammed twice between cogs and my bike sounded like I imagine a Harley Davidson sounds like in it's dying hour. At the second last turn after a particularly pesisten chain-jam My team mate and current arch-nemesis Dan caught up with me. We rode side by side up to T2.
T2 was fairly quick ordeal. Volunteers got my bike and the one shoe I managed to get of before entering T2. (you should evidently practice taking the shoes off while on the bike too before race day ;) ) When we got into T2 Richard saw me and asked for some disco moves, knowing fully well that I can never deny him this. I acoomodated him to loud cheers (or were they sniggers?) from the bystanders and volunteers. I got rid of the socks, and got into my minimus trails. grabbed my empty drinking bottle and rucksack containing clothes and nutrition, I beat Dan out of T2 by maybe 20sec.
You arrive at the top of the plateau some 750m above sea level.
There is a platform on the plateau built straight out past the edge of the waterfall I mentioned previously. When we started the run I could barely see it. The fog allowed us maybe 50m of sight. More than enough to follow the well marked trail. Dan and I ran together until the first steep hill. It's brutal! I had a vivid memory of cramps in this hill from 2009. Because of that I went easy. Dan and two more people took advantage of this and pulled ahead. The line of sight decreased to maybe 5 meters, but the trail was easy to follow. If you had got away from the trail, however you may have been in a potentially dangerous situation, as no one would have stood a chance of finding you until the fog lifted. The fog cleared a bit towards the top, and I was able to scare Dan into running after the boulder fields by making contact agin. Lots of friendly faces cheering us on while going down. On the glacier flatish part I encountered a veritable crowd. Young ladies Cheering everyone on. I tried to repay them with disko-moves and by trowing kisses. Much cheering (or could that be sniggering? Naaah :-) ) Come the last hill I gave it everything I had, but Dan still managed to come a few meters before me.
Endomondo log from most if it
On the top of Stabbeskaret it was time to get into more clothes. up to this point I had only the tri-suit on. While we were enjoying the accomplishment, buns Coke and Coffee :-) ! The president of the Norwegian Road Runner society (Kondis) came in. Tim did not have much in the way of spare clothing, so I gave him an aluminum foil blanket. This guy is a legend in the Triathlon society in Norway, and have contributed greatly to the sport. Good to be able to give him something back :)
All on all the 2012 Trollveggen Triathlon was an enjoyable event. Good to finally get to go to the top of Stabbeskaret again. I had however forgotten what a devastatingly hard triathlon this is. Especially the run is very taxing with 750m of boulder field to ascend!
This year's results:
Total: 3:20 (22 min improvement from 2009 despite bike trouble)
Number 69 in my class (not that it matters of course ;-) )
When we were heading down we saw the guy with the "Børge" support team. I could not help but cheering heim on with a quote from one of the support posters I saw earlier: "Heia Børge". Hope it helped him as much as the cheering I got on the way up helped me ;-)
Next year will mark my and Trollveggen Triathlons 5.th anniversary for this event. Can't wait to se what kind of rock we get for the 5 year medal ;)