The first race of 2012, coming just 9 weeks into the year, has come and gone. Just as promised, the weather was warm, the food was good, and riding around the Formula 1 track was incredible. In terms of preparation, I felt relatively good with my training and was hopeful to make an impact.Surprisingly, the swim was deemed wetsuit-legal as it was a few clicks under 22º. After a brief warm-up, we were corralled under a small arch and awaited our cue. The race took off in a flurry and given my swim training, I felt confident in my ability to stay with the pack. As we made our way towards the first buoy, I failed to maintain the pack’s pace and started slipping away. I know how hard I can swim 500-meters all out, but recovering such an effort in lies the problem. Regardless of who I was or wasn’t swimming with, I found a rhythm and did what I could to limit the losses.

Erich Wegscheider at the Abu Dhabi International 2012

A Bit Windy. Ah Who Am I Kidding, I Intentionally Styled My Hair As So

Heading onto the bike course, I was completely unaware of where I stood, but figured I was facing solo time in the saddle. Everything felt great from the get-go, but with 200km to cover, I definitely wanted to disperse my energy evenly. Besides a few bridges, the course was flat and straight. That is, until we hit the Formula 1 track. Making the right turn onto the track and accelerating gave me goosebumps. Riding on the track was like a boost of energy from, say, a GU Roctane gel. I was having so much fun speeding around the track that when it came time to exit and head back to civilian roads, I nearly missed the turn and slid out – the turn wasn’t well defined. As I made my way back to the transition turn-a-round, it became apparent that there was a slight tailwind on the way out with a headwind waiting. My pace did slow, but the loss of speed wasn’t that great with fit I have on my slippery Slice and thanks to my Rolf Prima wheels.

Erich Wegscheider Bike at the Abu Dhabi International 2012

Racked And Ready

Knowing I’d have a tailwind going back out, I pushed a bit harder after the turn-a-round. I was still alone, so I focused on my nutrition and keeping a high turnover. The winds picked up as the day progressed, so heading out a second time was even faster and naturally, that meant coming back in was slower. Same story for the shorter third lap.

Regardless of the wind, I felt good dismounting the bike. I can thank proper saddle time for that, my Blue Seventy Elite Tri Suit, which I didn’t notice during the race (i.e. it’s comfortable), and perhaps most importantly, the Dash Tri.7 saddle. This race was my first real long ride with the saddle and I stand behind my words of its level of comfort. The only question mark remaining for the day was the run and how I’d hold up.

The run was the big issue training for Abu Dhabi, as I essentially wasn’t running. Physiologically speaking, things weren’t perfect, but I was definitely on the mend. Add RockTape to the mix and I felt more confident about getting through the run somewhat competently. I actually wore the tape from start to finish and without it, I doubt I would have been able to get through the day as I did. As for the run itself, I’ll admit I didn’t push it, but wasn’t laying back by any means either.

Overall, the day played out very similar to a normal training day at home; tailwind on the way out, headwind coming in. While I didn’t have 17th in mind starting the day, I can’t beat myself up over it either. After all, it is March. I’m sure I got a good boost in fitness and I’m looking forward to seeing how the season progresses from here. Especially now that I can resume running.

As usual, I’ll end with a few photographs.