The season 2021 ended in Abrantes in Portugal. Even though it was the beginning of October, it felt like summer, as we had temperatures of up to 30°C! I experienced some highs and lows during the challenging competitions in rather hilly, dry and sandy terrain in central Portugal.
We traveled to Portugal three days before the first competition. Even though the last part of our journey was kind of troublesome (the car rental company ran out of cars, and we somehow just managed to grab two minibusses instead of our rented estates), we managed to prepare ourselves fairly well in the final days before the competition.
The first competition was the middle distance, which took place on Friday. For me, it was a day to forget. I planned to take more risk than usual and go for the "bush-routes". This didn't pay off at all, as I got lost completely on my way to the third control. After I lost more than 10 minuntes, my focus changed to prepare for the long distance as well as possible. So I did test some routes and tried to pay attention on how the map drawer drew details.
In the long distance competition, which already took place the next day, I could finally retrieve my full potential. The steep and loose climbs in the valleys of the competition areas suited me very well. And even though I had to ride almost the whole race completely alone, I managed to always stay motivated, focussed and up to speed. In the final part of the course, which was situated in a rather dense network of MTB tracks, I had to pay maximum attention to not miss a control or a path to it. But in the end I brought home my first Top10 ranking in an international championship, which I'm super proud of.
In the final competition of the weekend, the mixed relay, our whole team had solid races.
Christine did very well on the first leg and sent me to my course in the first half of the field. I had a small lack of concentration to the first control and lost one minute by taking a wrong turn. After that mistake, I felt very good on the steep climbs, and was able to catch some athletes which overtook me.
On the last leg, Simon was on fire once again and brought us to a diploma. If we all had perfect races, a medal would have been possible, but we're happy with the diploma anyway.
Looking back to the season 2021 makes me happy and proud, but also hungry for more. I saw that my shape got better in the second half of the season, which helps me to plan my future training. I'm already looking forward to Ignalina, Falun and Popovo (Попово)!