13 Apr

How a season starter becomes a day of survival – Guad al Xenil

I will be racing Guad al Xenil (Andalusia, Spain) in 9 days. 161km with 3800m of elevation gain.
For those of us who like long rides and races, 161km don’t sound outrageously long. It is manageable.
A quick look at the elevation gain of 3800m makes it look a lot tougher but still, having done plenty of races longer and more climbing in it, the stats didn’t exactly give me the chills.
With a season planned full of really tough races in Europe, I saw this race as a nice season starter.
Until today.
The race course is in riding-reach of my home base, Salobrena so my local group and I pre-rode the race course split in two days. Yesterday and today.
And I am not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing because now I do have the chills. My “nice season starter” will become a day of survival.
Let’s take a look at the profile:

Do you see any flat part? I dont. Plus three Category 1 climbs.
The course starts actually quite harmless. A little up and down for the first 50 odd kilometers. No biggie.
Then it goes up. Also, no problem with that. The problem starts with those random 10%+ ramps that are long enough to create damage no matter how “easy” you take it but short enough that it is over before you have found somewhat a rhythm and acceptance of your current suffering state. Mentally and physically very draining!
But there is light at the end of the “ramp” tunnel – after Torvizcon (66.2km) the ramps stopped. Now it is all uphill – steep, never-ending! You can watch your leg battery getting drained by the minute. It just sucks everything out: 10 kilometer with an average of 6% but to me, it felt all like 10%. It took me 44minutes to climb those 10km!!!!
Here is the culprit:

I was suffering big time going up that sucker. And you think to finally made it to the top about 10 times only to see another vertical pavement ahead of you. But you know exactly when you actually make it because you have a stunning view over the region and you can see the ocean from here!
Although the road is still a bit undulating along the ridge line, 5% all of a sudden seem flat after having climbed 10% for the past 45minutes. Enjoy the following downhill as much as you can because now this race is getting tough. You got now 120km in your legs, have tested your legs on a serious climb. Not exactly fresh as a daisy anymore.
We are facing climb number 2:

This climb is as highly categorized as the last one but it is nowhere near as tough. Yes, there are some steep parts but overall you actually can get into a rhythm.
But I am sure the fatigue will make this climb not a walk in the park. I am actually pretty certain, it won’t! 😀
Ok, now, let’s talk about the last climb! This is a killer climb – especially mentally. The beginning is one steep-ish, straight ramp. You only see uphill and wonder what the road might do in the distance.

Okay, it is going uphill – story of the day. What makes this last climb just absolutely brutal is the last bit. You are already in the town but the race keeps going.
For 600m, it averages 12.4% topping out at almost 18%!! Watching grass grow will be faster than me climbing that up!
That’s Guad al Xenil. Yes, I am excited. Nervous. And now with fullest respect for this race! This ain’t the typical season starter!
Now, why I am making myself go through this race and an entire season of very tough races? This will be the blog post for tomorrow!
See you then!

  1. […] about Guad al Xenil Gran Fondo? No? Me neither, 😊, until I was told by locals about it. After a 2 day recon, I just raced it last weekend and I highly suggest this Spanish Gran Fondo for your 2018 racing […]

  2. […] a great solo adventure tour over a few days to Jerte. And then I reassessed the situation after Guad al Xenil – taking a bus sounded just fine by […]

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