For the past three years, 4PSA’s girls cycling team mounted the podium in the women’s category at the Skoda Velo Challenge. We have a dedicated corner in our open space filled with the trophies they brought home. This is a good motivation to train hard every year, because maintaining a top place is not an easy task. And now we’ve raced our bikes in the Baneasa forest once again.
For those of you who do not know what Skoda Velo Challenge is, here’s the short story: it’s a relay cycling race opened for people working at the same company. We team up to compete against other companies in the same field of work or in the general classification. It’s basically a fun day in the woods, without computers and tasks, but with deadlines to meet. Well, you do need to beat the other competitors’ times, don’t you?
Winning Does Not Come Easy, But Feels Great
With only two girls willing to join the ranks this year, we took a different approach. We entered the race with two teams in the mixed competition. Team Hubgets and Team VoipNow, each made of three boys and one girl, lined up at the starting grid, along with 81 teams from other companies. Team Hubgets relied on stronger riders and aimed high. Team VoipNow was all about the fun of it.
The day before the race, the course looked somewhat damp, with a few puddles here and there. People complained about this on social media channels. On top of everything, a heavy rain fell in the evening, leaving the forest a muddy mess. This was perfect for us though, as we love mud and have the technical skills to tackle this kind of terrain.
Our strategy was trialed and tested from last year – let a strong rider go first and put up a fast lap so that the teammate that follows him in the second lap would have a clear course ahead. The girl would be last. I don’t think any of the other mixed teams did this. As you’ll see, in the end this strategy paid off.
The organizers decided to take a weird approach for the starting lineup, positioning everybody by the number they received when they registered for the competition (like that would be a good indicator of performance). We had bib number 69 out of 83, so… we were waaaay behind the starting line. But, hey, their race, their rules!
Being the first rider, I pushed hard from the beginning, trying to leave behind as many people as possible on the tarmac and the wide forest road that followed. Getting stuck behind a slow rider on the single trail part of the course would ruin the lap and cost the team important seconds. There are 11 kilometers of flat terrain, where all you can do is push yourself to the limit. In the end, I managed to set a good pace for the rest of my teammates.
We all went in the battle one by one wrestling the mud and going up the ranks. We found the course to be quite enjoyable, the rolling surface offering just enough grip under the tires to stop you from losing control, but also accelerating the adrenaline level when the bicycle’s backend was all over the place.
During the last lap, our Hubgets girl was overtaken by somebody from the IBM team. She knew their team was mixed and anticipated the race would be tight all the way to the finish line. The IBM guy was in front on the last single trail in the woods, blocking our girl from overtaking. But she stuck with him and accelerated on the straight line to the finish.
It’s Not Only About Winning Big, It’s Also About Having Fun
The IBM team and we actually crossed the line at the exact same time. However, since it was a net time race and we started the race 6 seconds behind the IBM guys, we managed to overtake them in the final results and Team Hubgets won.
So, you see, the fight for first place in the IT category was that tight. Team Hubgets also won the second place in the mixed race, right after Ericsson. Team VoipNow did a wonderful job in the race as well and all teammates deserve the props for giving all their best in fighting the mud and fierce competition.
In the end, this whole event was just an excuse to get some of our Clouders out and having serious fun on the trails near our HQ. Might it be rainy, muddy or hellish hot, you’ll still see us smiling when it’s over 🙂
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