Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sigmaringen Week 4

Guten Tag!
Time for the weekly Sigmaringen update.

Schwimmen has been going ok, I swam about 4 times last week with a long schwim of 4.5km – schnitzel von crumm!  Not sure whether my swimming has improved but my speedo tan certainly has. 
We had some good radfahren weather and have found a few new hills to ride.  I am starting to become well aware of the fact that I will be racing up l’Alpe d’Huez rather soon so have started doing some hill reps and need to step up the longer rides.
I have got my laufen mojo back and am laufen 45km per week with no problems (keine problem).  Most of it is still done in the forest which is good for the leggies and I spotted Bambi and his mother and brother the other day so the interest levels stay high.  I have even started incorporating some speed work into my runs which I haven’t been able to do in a while.

The second Liga race was set to take place last weekend in a nearbyish town.  It was a 1.5km non-wetsuit schwimm, ~40km drafting radfahren and 10km laufen.  Our coach/manager Elmer was having a difficult time with the second men’s team so decided to put me in it as the women’s team was sorted.  In the men’s league 5 men (occasionally women…) start and the top 4 times count so I was more of a back up in case someone didn’t finish – less than 4 finishing means no points which is worse than not many points for a bad finish.  I was mostly concerned about my slow swimming which could lead to not having anyone to ride with and being well down onto the run.  I wasn’t so keen on racing but saw myself more as an insurance policy in case one of the other 4 didn’t finish.
The weather leading up to the race had been great during the day but lots of thunderstorms at night which kept everyone awake.  Something about hot fronts which come together and create electrical activity.  The forecast for race day was for overcast and the occasional thunderstorm.  We got to the race venue and I racked my little Serottica in amongst the big men’s bikes.  The weather was fine but it looked like a front was moving in.  We were starting 15mins after the 1st division with the girls 15mins after us.  The 1st division were basically in the starters hands when it was announced that all the races were to be pushed back 30mins, something about a tree on the bike course.  So swim caps and goggles off and back to the van we went to wait until our start.  About 10 minutes later the rain started and it didn’t look like the 1st division would start on time.  Then came the thunder and lightning which made the race organisers poop themselves and they cancelled the entire race.  Something about lightening and water being a bad combination.  We thought that we would be offered a duathlon or something similar, but nein.  
All dressed up and nowhere to race
 I was quite disappointed because although I didn’t particularly want to race the men I had psyched myself and was willing to give it a go.  Some of our teammates had traveled from Switzerland and the Czech Republic so they were pretty pissed.  The weather had cleared quite nicely at this stage but everything which had been sitting in transition was pretty soaked though.  So back to Sigmaringen we went.  I tried to salvage the day and went for a 90min ride where I got caught in a thunderstorm and was a bit concerned about being hit by lightning, followed by a 10km run so all was not lost.

The next day we picked up a 29 Euro per day rental car and headed up to Maikammer to visit our friend Claudia who lives about 200m from us (as the crow flies) at home but was here visiting her parents.  We stopped at the Ritter Sport Chocolate factory and stocked up – 69c for their bars which cost about $6 in NZ if you can ever find them. Nom nom nom.
How much did you say the car was?
 Once in Maikammer we were treated to some amazing hospitality by Claudia and her parents in their real live German house complete with a pond in the garden and a cherry tree.  Maikammer is a small town (4000 people) in the wine region of Germany ie there are vineyards everywhere, even rows of 4 or 5 in between houses.  There are also lots of castles up on the hills, some which have been restored and some which are just ruins.  Claudia took us to the next village over - St Martin which is even smaller (2000 people) and famous for its winemaking.  These two little towns were amazing – narrow cobbled streets with grapevines branching from one side of the road to the other.  The buildings were all so old and the houses were behind giant stone walls with massive wooden doors which when opened would reveal one or two house where generations of families would live.  Claudia’s dad was the GP in Maikammer for 26 years so she knew pretty much everyone.  We dabbled in a bit of wine tasting and were shown where the wine was made and stored in an underground cellar which looked like it was about 2000 years old.
When in St Martin...

Having a nosey
The next day we visited a couple of castles and went a nice run amongst the vineyards.  Claudia’s parents were most hospitable and provided us with some delicious home-cooked meals German style.
Breakfast Maikammer style
Nice run through the vineyard with the castle on the hill

Welcome to my domain
 We then left there and headed back to Sigmaringen via Strassbourg which is in France (only since 6 years ago apparently).  Strassbourg is very old and dates back to about 13BC.  It was quite touristy in places but has been fantastically restored and has a giant cathedral in the centre.  
Just popping into France

The cathedral was too big to for my camera
We walked around Strassbourg for a couple of hours, had an ├ęclair chocolat from a patisserie and then headed back to Sigmaringen.  I was on the all-important job of navigation and sent us back in the direction of Maikammer (north) in rush hour traffic instead of south to Sigmaringen.  Opps.  Lucky my internal navigation system kicked in (or maybe that was Jared saying we should never have gone in that direction) and we didn’t get too far up the road before we were able to turn around and get on the right track.

Only two more weeks in Sigmaringen so time to crank up the cycling in preparation for the big race.

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