Amongst the editions of the well known cycles MTB Marathon and Bike Maraton who fill 90% of the events calendar in the South West of Poland, we can still find other little races that occur only once a year ; like Biały Kosciól and a couple of others.
This race is named Memorial FISHa, in honour of Arthur Filipiak, nicknamed "fish", founder of the well known MTB webportal Bikebrother, who died of a not well diagnosed illness in 2007. It is a charity event meant to raise funds for diagnosing illnesses. It takes place in Zieleniec, ski resort whose popularity is partly increased by this event, some people simply name the race "Zieleniec".
Such kind of local events always attracted me, for many reasons, they are less commercial, there is more volunteering, the atmosphere is different, more friendly. I did not attend it the years before, not knowing about it, but I had ticket it in my calendar for 2013.
The world is small: few weeks before, an unknown number rang: Aneta, the sister of Arthur Filipiak, in person, invited me to this event. She is in fact my neighbour in the same building ! We met and chatted a lot. I still wasn't sure if I could take part, the 4th of August being the day after I came back from holidays, but it turned out that also many folks of my team were going, and such combination of circumstances motivated me to make this little effort.
I drove to the place with Krzystof, a recent member of our team, whose look reminds a bit of Mario Pantani.Michal was also going, as well as some other people, but riding only the mini distance. All fears were focused on the weather: it was meant to be stormy, but a bright blue sky was at sunrise in Wroclaw. As we drove to the south and the mountains, the air became kind heavy and humid, despite still sunny. But one hour before the start it became really cloudy. The storm was about to take place and the start was at 11 !
10:30 : BAOOOM ! lightning followed by a pouring rain. The terrain that had beed dry for several weeks of heavy sunshine transformed into a sinful field of mud, comparable of that during stage 1 of Beskidy Trophy, in less than ten minutes ! Everyone sheltered, some even (and unfortunately) drove home... The rain diminished a little after the planned start time, and very promptly the organizers gave the start signal.
Not everyone was completely ready but by chance I was not far from the pack, and rushed into the mass of this unexpected start. Krzystof was still getting ready, as for Michał last time I saw him he was chatting somewhere far behind. I will not see them the entiere race.
The very beginning consisted in a little ascent and sharp descent as a prolog, then the loop that was going to be repeated twice. The first part was really muddy, and being particularly sleepy (we flought back home near midnight the evening before) did not help. My concentration was weak and I badly anticipated all sort of accidents, slippery sections and changes of gear. Lots of people flought ahead of me.
Later, the track turned into the total opposite style of terrain: wide broad large track, first descending, then flat, then finally getting back to Zieleniec through a long ascent on a small gradient. During this portion could finally allow myself to take advantage of my asset, the uphill. The Loop around the Peña Montañesa had taken place not more than 3 days ago so I was trained ! I rode uphill with two girls, one doing the mini and riding at a good pace, the other was Monika Strychar, the one who eventually won in the female category. We rode together almost till the end of the first loop, and chatted a bit, laughing about this funny rivalry between her and a fit male like me.
Monika "left me" during the second downhill in the wet part: the lighter the better, she flought while I was sinking in the mud. I did my best to lose the less possible time, in order to catch her back like the first loop proved it was possible. Once on the fast wide portion I found myself almost alone riding for several kilometers, riding full speed. The route was well marked, but due to the lack of other competitors in sight and my lack of attention, it happened: I picked the wrong direction in one junction and began to ride downhill to far. Then I realized my mistake and walked back. The Garmin watch eventually showed I lost some 3mn. It costed me two positions in the rankings. I managed to catch back one guy that had just passed as I joined back the route, but no one again till near the end. Only in the last uphill I passed another guy, and the red shirt of Monika came into sight. I rode as fast as I could to catch her back, but she noticed me in the last hundred meters, and despite exhausted she managed somehow to sprint and avoid me to pass her before the line. Funny situation again about which we laughed once more while congratulating each other.
Krzystof and Michał eventually crossed the line too. Michał had been second of us most of the race, but Krzystof passed him as he caught a flat. We queued a while at the karcher wash, organized at the firemen's truck, since all bikes were covered with mud, then ate a delicious toast organized by the team members and staff of Daleko Jeszcze, which I had so far rarely met, and had come with a car full of teas, coffees, cakes and drinks. Thanks to them ! Sun was now shining and the prizes ceremony took place in a very friendly atmosphere. Some may complain the waether conditions played us a bad joke, but without such things there is no fun !