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Maratonul Vinului - the joy of a competition

Saturday, the 4th of June, I participated at Maratonul Vinului, the first mountain bike competition I ever attended. Now, two days after ending it, the emotions are slightly settled and I still feel the thrill of the downhills and the harshness of endless climbing. 
Chatting with my friend, Tim before the start
It was a perfect event, wonderfully organized. There are a bunch of great people standing behind it and I admire the way Sam, Marco, Jan and Richard dedicated themselves to this marathon and to making it's very first edition a smashing success among other more famous similar competitions. I enjoyed a lot the starting point, where you had technical assistance, water & energizing supplies, great moody music and - here's a big bravo for the man in charge - an electronic panel on which you were able to see the time left until the beginning of the race. 
The race at the beginning
During the race things were great for me. I imagined myself stopping many times, relaxed, taking photos, since it is my first ever competition and I knew I can't be hoping to be in the top. The route started with a very serious and long climbing and people were already dropping their enthusiasm. I just picked some random cyclist to follow and I 'forged the engine'. I had a moment after 5 km when I felt I had no air to breathe, nor reason to continue. But that was very short. I passed my 'rabbit' and found another one, a bit faster. I just got into the rhythm, all I could see was the back of my leader, all I could smell was the straining around me, all I could hear were my pumping heart beats and my gasping breaths. And it was the right way, because I never stopped until the end. I persisted in climbing every hill without getting off the bike. Actually I realised that, while I was quite slow and I lost time when going down, I was recovering the precious time when climbing. I discovered that the breathing technique is decisive in these moments, therefore I controlled my breathe and always filled in my lungs with long air inhales. It was great joy to see the villagers waving to us, to see my fellow competitors helping each other when some of them fell off the bike, or had a flat tire. I felt happy, I knew that right there, when pedalling and smiling surrounded by a glorious landscape of vineyards, hills and lot of green. 
I finished the 35th overall, after 1h 49' of racing. I was lucky enough to have no unhappy incident and I would definitely do this again. Next year I will join the marathon by all means. 
Crossing the finish line
Since I am not a professional I don't know the winners of Maratonul Vinului. From my point of view, the winner of this marathon is Sir Nicolae Stroescu, having 70 years old and finishing the race with the smile upon his face. He is a model for our parents who use to say that cycling is only good for children. I bow in front of your performance, Nicolae!
Sir Nicolae Stroescu, reaching his 70's
and my sincere respect 
What can be better than a perfect riding experience at the best organised competition? Oh, yes, maybe the cheers of the crowd when crossing the finish line!         

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