Monday, August 01, 2005

MTB: The Otepää marathon

After a lengthy pause there was a decent marathon to ride and I took the opportunity. I mean, there was also the Värska marathon, but the organizational side was so horrible last year I chose not to go. If anyone reading this was there this year, please post some comments.
So, back to the Otepää marathon. The race starts on the worldfamous Tehvandi sport center (they host WM stages for cross-country skiing there) which has plenty of parking spaces and overall good facilities. As opposed to the Tartu marathon that starts at the same place this one also ends there, which is good. The only downside of the location is the long start coridor which makes people that were late with registration wait for an eternity before they can actually start riding.
From start on the trail goes through the city allowing for the riders to spread up. After the city, it's a couple of kilometers of wide asphalt that makes for good overtaking oportunities. This is not for long (otherwise it won't be a MTB marathon, would it?) and by the 20th kilometer you are experiencing the full beauty of the countriside which contains mainly of slopes. The ascent on the 22. km is the toughest (Harimägi, if you can be bothered) but not the only one. Actually the whole distance between 20. and 30. km is one big ascent followed by a steep descent. Pay attention here: the downward slopes are fast and usually very bumpy. For the first time I really understood why people invest into real good forks. After you have managed not to break your neck tehre, it's all pretty nice and smooth till the end. There is even a strech of good tarmac around the 44th km. If you still have some power left, it's a good place to pass some people who don't (I did pass two:)). The last part of the track turns back to the woods and is of no particular interest. However, this year the final kilometer was really wicked. You reach the stadium, see the finish line and forget what the computer's been saying: it must be the end and yes, you have to catch that last one guy and indeed you do. Turns out the computer was right about the distance after all and you are taken for a last strech up and down some hills along a narrow path. Which is the place where you run out of your last and the guy you triumphantly passed 100 m back leaves you standing. Nasty.
It's actually a quite nice track as it's real fast (helped by relatively try wether this year) but still has a total ascent of 655m according to my Polar which is a tad short of the nearly 800m of the Haanja marathon but way over an average of 450 or so.
As Blogspot is now allowing to add images to the posts (way to go!) I can finally show off my fancy hardware and share a track profile.