Xterra Italy/Lago di Garda

The third Xterra race of the season brings me back to Italy. I really love this country. This time we are heading to the lake Garda, I know this place from prior training camps some years ago, but I have never raced the Xterra there. Normally all the Mountainbike action is happening in the north of the lake at a little village called Riva, but the spot where the Xterra is happening is a little bit south on the west coast in a Village called Toscolano Maderno.

Our drive started in Vienna, and due to the distance we made a stop in Salzburg/Austria for one night, and kept on driving the next day. We arrived in Maderno in the afternoon and went for a bike ride immediately.

I heard a lot of good reviews of the course, and my teammate Markus who raced there last year told me: “this is the hardest MTB course of all the Xterra races in Europe”. Luckily they changed it a bit to last years one and so there were lots of awesome single trail sections and not these crazy steep uphills anymore.

Credits: Carel du Plessis

Raceday was on Sunday, during the night before I got a little bit of a cold, but I still decided to race. The lake was freezingly cold, but the air was nice and warm. Due to the water temperature the swim was with wetsuit, but still very cold on my head. I managed to swim a good pace and was super stoked for the mountainbike. I pushed on the first kilometers hard, to catch up with the front guys. I was riding pretty well when I suddenly lost all the strength and had to slow down. This happened about half a loop (8km) into the bike course.

Credits: Carel du Plessis

I never forget to smile in a race, but this one was just a race to tick off and keep going. It was definitely not a good decision to race this one. After the race back home I went to the doctor to get my lungs and my heart checked out. A four weeks training stop was the result.

Credits: Carel du Plessis

I got slower and slower and had to let all the others go. I got some motivation push every time someone overtook me, but after a few meters it was too much pain in my lungs but also my legs. I definitely wanted to finish the race, so I kept on racing into the run. My run was not really fast anymore- most of the course I was only walking, my legs felt heavy and slow. I still finished the race, but I was about 1 hour later at the finish line of my estimated time.

Credits: Carel du Plessis

I still loved the course and especially the people, I am a big Italian fan and I will definitely come back to Toscolano Maderno in future.