In 2009, I had the first opportunity to take part in the race against the clock for the Bavarian state title, finishing 24th in Herrieden, almost four minutes off the pace. That year, a former pro had joined my club, and even he failed to make it to the top 10. Naturally, back then I thought that making it into the podium was but a distant dream.
Going under 55 minutes for 2010's 40km course in Karbach resulted in only a small improvement, netting me the 20th place - which again highlighted the depth of the field I was facing. In my breakthrough season of 2011 I went to the championships with hopes of finally making into the top 10, but the technical, hilly course around the Ellertshäuser Lake didn't quite suit me - I finished 15th.
I doubled my efforts last year after joining Magnesium Pur: having a couple of previous winners in both the Elite and U23 categories among its ranks, the team was known for its time trialling pedigree. I gained unique insight observing my teammate Giulio as he prepared for his attempt, which would eventually win him the bronze medal, and managed a notable improvement, finishing 6th, less than a minute behind the winning pace. Almost there.
And then, finally: last Sunday, I managed the second-fastest time in the short 19.2km course in Arnstorf. I was the first to finish, and managed to hold the best time until the very last cyclist came through (former teammate and perennial favourite Fritz Meingast, last man to roll down the start ramp, took the honours, flying his Smart suit 38s faster). I found myself maybe even slightly disappointed: I could certainly have done a little better, if only I had scouted the course beforehand, or hadn't buried myself so deeply in the first few minutes of my run. Only later did it really hit me - I had delivered a podium-level performance in what is arguably one of the most competitive states in all of Germany.
There are far too many people who made this journey a special one. From my family, friends and former teammates in Brazil, to the colleagues in Herpersdorf and now my new-found home at Team Magnesium Pur, and also the many friends I've made among my fellow competitors - a thank-you note would be at least as lengthy as this post. Chances are, if you are reading this, you have a stake in these accomplishments, and I have a debt of gratitude to you. Thank you all for the pleasure of sharing the way along these roads over the past ten years.
- - -
Funny thought: 24, 20, 15, 6, 2. There's only one placing left if this sequence is to continue its diminishing trend... Yyhaaa!
- - -
Minor technicality: As most of you know, I hold a dual citizenship. When I first issued a cycling license, I choose to register it with a Brazilian code, thus making myself eligible to race the Brazilian championships or be picked for the Brazilian national team, but excluding myself from the possibility of representing Germany (or ever being crowned German champion). It turns out such choice also prevents me from ever being declared reigning Bavarian champion: in the past five years, I've been allowed to take part with a special 'guest' status, with my time recorded officially, but an asterisk placed next to my name to indicate my ineligibility: