Well the 349a gang had been eyeing up this race for some time.... and despite legal issues going on between Challenge (the brand owners) and last years organisers (who didn't pay the pro's in the October race), we finally took the plunge and entered in late January.... The legal "Challenges" over with Challenge having a new local organisation team and getting the previous organisers put firmly in their rightful place in the gutter... for the organisers this couldn't have been the ideal prep for the second year of the Challenge races in Spain but still... they pulled it off remarkably well.
The gang flew out early doors Friday morning; Jules heading from Scotland to Girona airport north of the venue and Anita and I meeting up at Gatwick for a journey to Barcelona. For once Anita was, not only on time for the flight... but early... which was as well as we flew out at 0655 (read the 0 in that... I was up at 3:15am to make that... Jeez...)... Anyway, Sleazy-jet did a good flight out, we beat Jules into the country by about 30mins and then it was just left for us to figure that the train journey which would have been cheap would have been a nightmare with bike boxes and all - so we headed out into the pouring rain and got into a taxi... The first race of the weekend afoot as Jules got out of his airport with speed and headed to his "transfer" bus.... Shouldn't have worried about that - took him about 2hrs to cover the 40k stopping at every hotel in the Costa Brava on the way to our "team" hotel!!
Having such an early flight meant we arrived in plenty of time to get the bikes put back together and go out for an hour on the course, both to suss it out a bit and also make sure we had put the bikes back together ok..... Yours truly had clunging gears and found, on return to the hotel that my spacers were moving about which meant, after a quick inspection, that I hadn't sat the headset in correctly - that could have been nasty!! Still sorted - no probs.
Anita and I then headed into the swell of sea for a splash in the wetsuits. OH MY. Colder then I thought it would be, but not as cold as it could have been. Figured temp was around 15 degrees. The swell was up though and there was a firm current pulling you right to left, so swimming against that was entertaining. Having figured the sea was usually calm in the morning this was a good test and good to figure out for race day that we'd be swimming against the current on the way out but with it for longer on the way in.
Saturday my training plan called for a 3 hour ride (there was to be no taper for this race) and I made 2 hours; I went out for an hour and I found myself in a very industrial area in the suburbs of Barcelona and about to enter a motorway so thought I'd come back... and anyway I decided beforehand 2 hours would be enough. It was good to reccie the bike course fully (although I went way past the turn point as this was a two lap race).
Check in done, expo was small but fully kitted out with the normal stalls for lots of choice. We ran back at Jules's and Anita's "super easy" pace; which was like my half marathon pace! Lucky it was only 10mins run!!
Final preps done. Much pasta eating and an early night beckoned. Excitement was building - hotel was putting on a race breakfast for 5am!
RACE DAY..... to come!!