Stages 1 & 2
There was no wasting time getting into the climbing this year. Stage 1 started with 10k of climbing total, a 26k climb to start, then essentially the equivalent of Mt Ascutney in the middle, and a final climb toward the end. 800 racers packed into the narrow paved and cobbled streets of Imst, with a stop and go rippling through the field as the streets narrowed or turned. Every once in a while there would be a chance to look around and drink in the turquoise lakes below, the jagged rocky peaks above, and lush forests in between. Beyond that, the focus was getting a good tempo climbing, remembering to eat and drink, and figuring out how to race together as it was our first event like this. We ended up getting separated as I climbed ahead and then Jeff passed me on descents. In the end we finished 10th mixed team out of 52, and a whopping 45 minutes behind the lead mixed team of Sally Bingham and Ben Thomas, who had amazingly finished 20th team overall. In contrast to Imst, the set up of the finish area, race expo, etc. in Nauders was close to our hotel, and on our way to walk to the pasta party I commented to Jeff how it was kinda nice that things were more central and easier to get to. The pasta party signs dumped us at a shuttle, however, which brought us to the Nauders ski center down the road. We entered the base lodge only to realize our journey was just beginning, as signs directed us to take the gondola up the mountain.
Dinner was served at the skihouse at the top of the gondola, in view of spectacularpeaks. (The extent of my German consists of combining English words together to make newwords, like "panoramarestaurant")
However, the ski lodge was blocking the view down toward the valley and I really wanted to get a nice panorama, so in a rush of probably very bad decision-making I insisted we climb up the ski slope to get a better vantage point.