Despite recently recovering from COVID-19, Alain Hinzen road his Cruzbike V20 recumbent road bike to a second overall finish in the unfaired class with two wins out of four races in the 2022 Recumbent Bicycle World Championship in France. Enjoy his awesome writeup below:
Four weeks before the highlight of my season, the Recumbent World Championship on hilly terrain in France, I got COVID. Months of training and preparation for nothing? At the very least it meant two weeks with absolutely no training, one week of very light training and then a medical checkup, to ensure that especially the heart does not suffer any long-COVID effects. As it turned out, the heart was fine, but the lungs suffered post-COVID insufficiency leading to a reduced anaerobic threshold.
With only 6 days left to prepare for the Recumbent World Championship, I decided to go with the aim to have as much fun as possible, disregarding the result. Just enjoying the community, the race action and the great race tracks...
Friday: First Day of the Championship - Time to Climb
The first race of the event was an uphill race, 2,7 km with 122 m of altitude that had to be raced twice. The first run started fast. Marvin (who I believe was the strongest rider) led the pack for the first hundred meters, but I managed to stay in his slipstream. I felt quite comfortable with the pace, so I decided to go. After some pedal strokes with my Cruzbike V20, there was a small gap between me and Marvin. Having in mind that we would have to go up a second time, I slowed down my pace just watching in the mirror that he will not come too close. I won the first run with 6:18 min. After that, all riders went down to the start to prepare for the second run up the hill.
The second run started nearly the same way as the first run. Marvin led the race with a rocket start, and I followed him. After the first hundred meters I took the lead, but I didn't feel as comfortable as the first run. My legs were hurting, but I pushed as hard as I could. After two thirds of the distance, Marvin lost my wheel and I managed to get some meters of advance, but he came back. We arrived on the home straight together and sprinted for the victory. I won by the margin of a wheel length with a time of 6:15 min. I was completely exhausted, but lucky to achieve such a great result.
Saturday: Second Day of the Championship - a Day for the Sprinters
The second day of the Recumbent World Championship was one for the sprinters. 200 m with flying start and, after that, 1000 m with standing start. The race track was long and straight, with just a few meters of elevation, but not completely flat, what made the pacing very difficult, especially for the 200 m, where the right pacing is crucial.
I'm not the strongest sprinter, and I believed (and still believe) that the Troytec TT of Marvin is more aerodynamic than the Cruzbike V20, but I also believe that on the Cruzbike V20 I can push harder. And the Cruzbike V20 was really, really fast. I hit a top speed of around 60 kph and that was again a first place for the unfaired category! I was really surprised by that result.
After some time for recovery, the 1000 m runs started. Pacing is much simpler here. All-out for the first 30 seconds and then trying not to slow down for the second half of the race. The winds came up, but nothing to struggle, even with 100 mm rims in front and rear, my V20 was easy to handle. I started sitting upright and pulling hard at the handlebars for the first meters, so I could reduce the wheel spin and engage the upper body to get a quick start. The first 30 seconds felt great, high power output and reaching high speed, but the second half hurt. I reached a time of 1:02 min and that was a second place after rocket starting Marvin.
All of the results were much better than what I expected, and I was hoping I could win the competition, but the hardest test will come the last day...
Sunday: Third Day of the Championship - a Day of Pain... and Joy
The third and last day of the world championship was the day of decision. Marvin and I were separated by some points. A true test of ten laps with 10 km and 170 m of altitude (1700 in total) was waiting for the riders.
The race started at 9:30 a.m., nevertheless the temperatures were really hot, like for the whole weekend. Marvin again got a really fast start (I have to work on my quick start abilities) and I had to chase him. The first passing of the home straight we were in front together, but I didn't feel good. I had to slow down, let Marvin go.
In my mind I had to change from race mode to endurance mode to survive the full race distance. And I tried to enjoy the great race track with steep and moderate gradients, fast downhills and great corners. It was really fun to ride, and I felt one with my machine, despite the slow pace.
Some other riders passed me, but I had to continue with my rhythm, impossible to ride faster, that led to hurting cramps in my legs. At the end I was 7th in the unfaired class. That's what I expected before the weekend, after all that went wrong the weeks before. Nevertheless, I was hoping for more after the two first days, so I was disappointed after the race.
I was not sure if could hold the podium with that result, but at the final result, I was second overall in the unfaired class! That was a conciliatory end of a great weekend full of race fun, great community, time with old and new friends and splendid landscape. And of course, a great journey with my Cruzbike V20,
which I love more and more with each pedal stroke.
Epilogue: Children's Wisdom
After the 100 km race, fatigue and disappointment overwhelmed me. Disappointment that I could not race as fast as I hoped to, disappointment because I thought the podium was gone. I laid down in the shadow between two houses, hoping that nobody would see my emotions erupting. But I attracted the attention of Leonie, a little girl of perhaps 6 years. After observing me for a while she asked me "Why are you crying?". I told her that I was disappointed by the result of my race. She just replied "You know, the most important thing is that you took part." Oh Leonie, you're so wise! You have understood what I had forgotten. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!
Congratulations to Alain for an epic championship weekend!