Race Report – Carinthia Cycle Marathon 2013

Today’s post will be a bit different from the previous ones. This is a race report of the 2013 Carinthia Cycle Marathon, which took place on May 25th, written from the perspectives of different riders. Here’s the team:

From left to right, meet Axel, Basti, Alex (a.k.a. Spinning Mum) and Kai (a.k.a. Cycling Dad). Yes, there’s a GoPro camera on top of Kai’s helmet… no questions please…

Axel, Basti and Kai are old cycling buddies from the Pulheimer SC racing club. They used to race a lot together in their teenager years, and even battled Team Sky’s Christian Knees when he was a junior with VfL Rheinbach. Many years have passed since, but friendship and love of cycling remains.

No need to introduce Spinning Mum, who – after giving birth to Johanna only ten weeks ago – is back in the saddle and has set her eyes on several upcoming races.

Enjoy reading Axel and Alex’s race reports!

 

Spinning Mum’s Race Report

There are certain things in my life I still have not realized, yet. Living abroad and having two adorable kids for example and – since May 26th – successfully finishing my first cycling race ever – the Carinthia Cycle Marathon.

When Kai registered for the full marathon I was still pregnant with little Johanna and never wasted even a single thought on competing in a cycle race myself. So, when we booked our family vacation around the marathon I was just looking forward to go for a ride with Kai while his parents (whom we invited to join us as babysitters^^) would watch the kids for an hour or two. But as you may remember from my previous post, I was lucky to recover from my C-section quite fast so that I ended up registering for the marathon’s short course over 65km with an altitude gain of 946m just a couple of days before the event.

At that point I have not had any great expectations. I was merely interested in surviving and not being the last participant crossing the finish line. Little did I know because someone sent me three angels pushing and pulling me through the marathon, so that in the end I scored a solid 10th place in my age group. Yeah!

But let me start from the beginning…

The weather situation
Ever since we arrived at our holiday home temperatures dropped significantly, sending us rain and even snow with the result that the long circuit encompassing the legendary Nockalm Road had been replaced by an alternative route covering two laps on the shorter course. Very frustrating for those courageous cycling warriors who were enduring long journeys in order to conquer this infamous pass road like our dear friends Cavalier Axel of London (a.k.a. Mr. Eton) and Knight Bastian of Hamburg. Both of them followed Kai’s invitation to Bad Kleinkirchheim for a merciless cycling reunion which unfortunately had to give way to a less epic version.

Alex’s angels
For me however the change of plans was a blessing in disguise. Due to the fact that there were no longer different starting times, the guys decided that it would be fun to support me during my first race, for example by letting me ride in their slipstream. As I did not want to ruin their finishing times, I did not really agree to this plan, but Kai and his buddies were determined to implement their strategy. And with hindsight I am really grateful that they kept their word as I would not have scored such an amazing result without their coaching and cheering. [Thank you so much, guys!]

Pre race anticipation
I do not know what it is with such events. Whenever I enter a sporting competition I am as nervous as a pig in a bacon factory though there is absolutely nothing to lose. Luckily, I prepared my entire gear the night before. With my water bottles already filled, the timing chip in place and my number bib attached to my jersey, I only had to focus on having enough food for breakfast. Quite a challenge when suffering from an antsy stomach… But wait… Where are my sun glasses…?

Two slices of white bread and a scavenger hunt later I found myself in a still snow covered car heading towards the starting point in cold but sunny Bad Kleinkirchheim. Once the car was parked I had a quick glance at all the other participants prepping their bikes. I instantly wanted to hide in the trunk. They were all looking so damn professional… There was even a bunch of riders warming up on a turbo trainer! What the hell was I thinking signing up for this…

But before I could actually find a place to hide the guys put me on my Racemachine for a quick warmup session and only minutes later I found myself in the middle of the starting area. Again, there was no chance to chicken out as I was encircled by my three angels. I felt absolutely miserable and rational thinking became almost impossible. My thoughts kept spinning around all kinds of race scenarios like not being able to click in and out of my pedals as required, crashing and bidding farewell to my hip or collarbones, keeping the guys from going full throttle and thus off the winner’s podium, and, and, and…

Fortunately, my brain and body went into race mode once the starting signal was given and nervousness gave way to something I never experienced before and what from now on I shall call ‘veloferocity’ – a state of mind which does not allow room for any other thoughts than ‘Ride.For.Your.Life’.

The race is on
Only seconds into the marathon Kai and the gang where nowhere to be seen anymore. Probably their veloferocity kicked in, too, and they went off like greyhounds scenting a lure whilst I was still bemused by the flock of furious cycling warriors trying to find their spot in the field. Keeping up with my bodyguards at a sustainable heart rate was simply impossible. Every now and then I could catch a glimpse at one of their jerseys but no matter how hard I tried, I just could not catch up.

But what did I expect? How can a road bike rookie keep pace with three seasoned warriors? Thankfully, they noticed that I could not cling to their back wheels and adapted their speed, so that I could keep up and let the field do the work. A quick glimpse at my Garmin revealed that we were close to flying: 45km/h – 50km/h – 55km/h – … Holy cow, I never thought that I could go this fast on plain grounds!

I was handed energy bars and gels from all sides, every now and then the guys reminded me to take a sip from my water bottle and Kai soon enjoyed himself pacing Basti and Axel, so that I would not fall behind. As you can see, I was looked after really, really well :)

However, when we reached the first steep descent towards Himmelberg, I decided to slow down a bit as there were too many roughshod riders speeding irresponsibly into the hairpin bends meandering down the slope in front of us. After a short reunion with my angels, who waited for me at the foot of the hill I found myself at the beginning of the 10km climb up to Klösterle and the first food supply station. Again, I decided to ride at my own pace rather than belting up the ramp.

Strange enough I even passed several fellow sufferers who overreached themselves and thus were already on their last legs. But apparently one brave chum in a light blue team kit wanted his bread buttered on both sides as he was heading downhill for another round… To my surprise that dude turned out to be none other than Cavalier Axel of London who was looking for us after running riot :) [Take a second to imagine the looks on our competitors' faces... ]

More or less reunited we carried on until we saw a sign-board announcing the first food supply station. Suddenly everybody seemed to be in a feeding frenzy… Kai mumbled something about fetching me some food and within a fraction of a second there was only a trail of dust where he took off. Next thing I remember is that Kai handed me a banana whilst we were passing many other riders including Knight Bastian and Cavalier Axel at the Klösterle check point.

Pretty sure that they would join up within seconds Kai and I did not bother to sojourn and started burning some rubber on the course’s second big descent towards Afritz. For some reasons there were hardly any other riders around and since the race marshals clearly indicated all danger spots, I mustered all my courage for this downhill passage. Again, I felt like flying crossing the 70km/h mark. But reaching Kai’s pace was impossible. Dressed in his all black ninja-like race attire, he clearly had the advantage of his super aerodynamic Lightweight Meilensteins at his hands…

Unfortunately, this descent was not meant to last. About 15 minutes later we found ourselves back on almost level ground. Soon reunited with the rest of the gang we continued as we started: in a strong group collecting rider after rider and group after group until we reached the second food supply station in Radentheim just before the last climb of the day.

Though I told ninja Kai and Cavalier Axel to take off for their second lap, they stuck with Knight Basti and me until the very last, encouraging me to give everything on what appeared to be the longest kilometre I ever had to overcome…

Seriously, I abhorred every single metre of this final straight and almost missed the turn towards the finishing line because I was so focused on cursing the incline, my feeble chamois and the guy complaining about Axel’s pub-trained cheering. But all this misery was forgotten as soon as we were greeted by Didi Senft in his devils costume at the finish line.

After the race is before the race
Wow, I made it! With a big smile on my face and an even bigger lump in my throat I was looking for Knight Basti when someone held a microphone in my face. Interview? Me? Now? OMG! No time for tears of joy and relief… Always look and act like a pro :)
I hope I was not stuttering too much sharing my thoughts which I can only repeat once again in a less awkward situation:
The Carinthia Cycle Marathon was a very well-organized race and the perfect event for a rookie like me. A heartfelt ‘Thank You’ goes out to all the selfless helpers, cheerful spectators, cautious drivers and especially to my three guardians who made this race an unforgettable debut just nine weeks after Johanna was born. I will definitely be back for more ;)

 

Axel’s Race Report

Spinning Mum has already shed light on the weather developments leading to the route changes and the Dream Team’s strategy for the Carinthian Cycle Marathon 2013 in her own race report, so I will not bore you to death with that J

What I will (at least try to) talk about here is my personal experience of what was, in hind sight, a race full of “firsts” for me.  My first experience of Alpine road cycling (previously, my only encounters with these mountains were either in transit in a car or on a plane or, at the most, one a very enjoyable mountainbike holiday several decades ago);  my first ride with a climbing effort of more than 2,000m – no, not just this season, but probably in forever;  my first ride in a proper peloton in a loooong time, seeing as usually, the groups I ride with these days are around the 20 people mark and certainly never more than 40 souls – here in Austria we were to set off with more than 560 people at (more or less) the same time.

And last, but not certainly not the least daunting: this was to be my first race since I hung up my licence all these years ago (and like in CyclingDad’s case, we are talking many, MANY years).

The thing is: ever since signing up for the Carinthian Cycle Marathon and transferring the starter fee, I kept telling myself “This is not a race, it’s a sportive.  A pleasant ride through gorgeous countryside with a bunch of friends all just happy to be out on the bike for the day.  Possibly a bit hard at times (i.e. uphill…), yes, but with plenty of food stations as a compensation.  And you know that you can’t fault Austrian food, so you’ll be fine.  It’ll all be grand!”  Nonetheless, the closer the date got, the more nervous I became and the harder it got to believe my own mantra…

So, you can imagine the state my nerves got in when the Dream Team was greeted in Bad Kleinkirchheim by what can only be described as picture perfect organisation.  Even by Austrian standards.  I mean: sign-on and number/ starter pack collection for all these hundreds of people?  Not a glitch.  It took all of the Dream Team combined(!) something like 10 minutes to be fully set.  What’s more impressive though: the whole town “felt” like something big was about to happen that next day. It truly felt like a storm was coming.  There were posters and flyers advertising the race everywhere.  And I mean everywhere:  on virtually every vertical area in and around the town, walls, trees, shop windows, post boxes, you name it (probably on your car too if you parked somewhere too long…);  you were given them at the cash register in supermarkets some 15km off the actual race route;  I think I even heard the event mentioned on the radio (though not sure).  Didi Senft, El Diablo himself , was in town, busily putting the final touches to the finish line (and still finding time for a brief chat with the Dream Team, that’s how awesome and adorable we are!).  And cyclists milling around everywhere, all of them looking super-serious, very well-trained and (very believably) conveying the notion that they all had resting heart rates in the low teens and were equipped with material straight out of NASA’s labs.

Let’s just say, your truly did not sleep well that night.  And it was not due to the pre-race wine and Nutella pizza… (another first, that, by the way)

Inevitably though, race day dawned.  So, following a quick breakfast, lots of bottles were prepared, kit was donned, jersey pockets were stuffed with all manner of energy bars and gels, legs were prepped with “StartOil” (more for that genuine “race smell” than for any performance increase), and we found our way to the start…

And then, suddenly, time just shifted gears.  Where a second ago there was apprehension and nervousness (“OMG, so many people – and they are ALL better prepared than me, surely!”, “What if there’s a crash?!”, etc. etc.) – as soon as the peloton began rolling out, all of a sudden there was just… nothing!  I just found myself in the zone.  Straight away my only thoughts were… well, not really thoughts anymore.  More like intuitions, reactions of an almost instinctive nature.  “Gotta follow that wheel!”  “Where’s Alex, where’s Kai?”  “Ah, there’s Basi, good man!”  “Ooh, a gap, better close that.”  “Legs feeling good, awesome!”  That sort of stuff.  Nothing but brief thought-flashes about cycling and staying upright and performing well.  Certainly nothing about the job or child care or money and all these other daunting real-life things.  Those things did still of course exist, outside, off the race track, far away – but for the moment, they were gone.  And let me tell you: after weeks and months of thinking, yes, often worrying, about seemingly everything under the sun (as you do when you have a new baby), it was bliss!

And quickly the initial post-start hullabaloo had dissolved somewhat, the Dream Team had found together by the end of the first downhill and we started tackling the rolling hills that laid before us like a well-oiled machine.  A really, really well-oiled machine:  over the course of the next couple of kilometres, we were picking up group upon group of competitors.  It felt like we passed hundreds of riders with ease.  And what a great feeling it was J

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and so, after an exhilarating descent down towards the village of Himmelberg, the climbing began.  Some 10km of pure uphill laid in front of us.  Needless to say, fuelled in equal measure by youthful arrogance and endorphins from the downhill and the positive start to this race, I started hammering up the hill, collecting more and more riders on my way.  The rest of the DreamTeam were much more prudent and tackled what was, effectively, only the first climb of many that day, in a more relaxed fashion.  Not me, though, I disappeared up the hill, my heart beating in my throat and my power meter showing values I found hard to believe…  Luckily, I did eventually come to my senses and realised that the DreamTeam was somewhere behind me – and that this was not how we wanted to ride this race.  This was, after all, to be a team event and I would not be of much use to our cause of delivering SpinningMum to the line with a respectable time if I’d blown myself up on the very first hill and had thereafter been unable to perform any work for the equipe.  No, I decided that enough of this tomfoolery is enough.

And so I performed a beautiful U-turn and swung around.

The faces of the people coming uphill, the same people I had just passed with what must have sounded to them like my lungs were about to explode, the look as they saw me leisurely rolling down the hill again in the opposite direction was absolutely priceless.  I would highly recommend it for your next event, but as you’ll read below, I ended up paying a high price for it…

Anyhow, a short while later (longer than I had thought, though) I was reunited with the rest of the DreamTeam and we carried on up the mountain together like we had said we would.  And not only that, but we stayed in close formation for the rest of the lap – apart, obviously, from the large downhill section towards Afritz am See, where Basi and myself were desperately trying to reel back in the combined force of the CyclingParents who had left the feed station at the top of the previous hill slightly earlier than we had.  To explain: when Basi and I saw the two of them leave the feed station we were not concerned – after all, whilst CyclingDad does have, well, certain gravitational advantages over us light weights on any descent, he’d also have to assist SpinningMum downhill and, we thought, this would impede his usual rapid progress enough to allow Basi and I to catch up with both of them swiftly.  However, unbeknownst to us CD had slipped into full-on, take-no-prisoners, death-defying race mode – and so, apparently, had SM.  Basi was leading the descent and even in his slipstream, I had to push quite hard indeed.  I’ve looked at the data later and discovered that I was pushing upwards of 350 watts at that stage of the race with a heart rate well north of 160bpm – and remember: that was downhill and in Basi’s slipstream!  There certainly wasn’t any rest for the wicked, like I had hoped (and banked on!).  And to make it worse: despite our best efforts, we did not manage to even catch a glimpse of the CyclingParents until we finally reached the valley floor.  I can’t for the life of me imagine what sort of devilish descent they put on up front.  I am pretty sure, though, that they must have treated the laws of physics with the contempt a Frenchman would usually give a set of unpoliced parking recommendations…

Finally though, the DreamTeam was reunited: a SpinningMum energised rather than exhausted from the descent, a CyclingDad seemingly fresh as a daisy and eager to get going again (“Where the heck were you two?!”), a Basi who’d seemingly just finished his warm-up programme – and myself, totally knackered from my earlier (yes, totally unnecessary) attack on Alpe d’Huez, cheated out of my well-earned rest on the downhill by our hell-bent attempt to re-attach us to the CyclingParents and therefore having dipped deep into the Red Zone well before even the half-point marker of the race… fantastic.

Luckily riding as a team allowed all of us to play vital and equally important roles.  There was SpinningMum, of course, the be-all and end-all of our strategy for the day – she had to ensure to keep the pace, let the rest of the Team know whether she wanted to go faster (God forbid!) or slower (never happened!) and alert us if she encountered a technical defect (also never happened).  Then there was CyclingDad, probably the only competitor to also take on the role of Directeur Sportif and thus constantly occupied with issuing orders of the highest strategic relevance to all other members of the DreamTeam: “Alex, use a different gear!”, “Basi, go to the front and set a high pace!”, “Axel, go to the rear and make sure Alex stays on!”, and on it went… Thirdly, Basi, taking up an all-important role of steam engine, motorbike and pace maker.  Before the start, he’d told us all that the previous week was the first one he’d been back on his bike since last winter – but either that was a load of b*ll*cks or this whole racing business does keep people in a very good shape even if they decide not to do much for a couple of months… either way, when Basi put himself onto the front, things got quick for the rest of us.  It was as if someone had just turned on a tap: he pedalled to the front and with seemingly no effort to him at all, the speed of the whole group jumped up.  And just stayed high.  And stayed and stayed and stayed…  Meanwhile, my own invaluable contribution to the DreamTeam’s success was to get in a spot right behind SpinningMum, ready to pass her and drag her back into the slipstream of the guy in front should she ever lose contact and a gap open up (once again: never happened!) and else just ensuring that no one coming up from the back tries to push her out of her position in our little chain gang.  So, essentially, I was sucking wheels.  It was a tough job, but someone had to do it J

Eventually, our group reached the beginning of the next (and for SpinningMum and Basi the last) hill of the day, the ‘Wall of Kleinkirchheim’ as it could and should have been known.

Now, this was one steep and long m*therf….  And it came at just about the half-way point for CyclingDad and myself, so I thought better of it this time and went up deliberately holding back and ensuring we’d get up there as a team.  Heart rate never above 160bpm, power output comfortably below 200 watts.  I knew that the next lap, the one I’d be doing with CyclingDad alone, would be just as long distance-wise – but it would hurt significantly more.

And boy, was I right!  As soon as we had passed the finish line for the first time and left SpinningMum and Basi behind, CD hit the gas in an utterly unholy fashion.  I’ve seen similar feats of acceleration at air shows I’ve visited, when a lucky display pilot got the chance to demonstrate a Typhoon’s awesome thrust-to-weight ratio, lighting the afterburners and accelerating whilst going up vertically…!  (A sight, by the way, that should be made mandatory for people to experience in real life!)

The thing is, at these airshows I’ve never seen anyone trying to hang on to the tail fin of the plane – but I assure you this is exactly what it felt like to me, trying to stay in CD’s slipstream for the next couple of kilometres…

I did manage to hang on to him – and apparently, I wasn’t the only one amazed by his efforts!  When we finally caught up with a group that, for all intents and purposes, should have been uncatchable to us, an Italian rider came alongside and offered his heartfelt admiration and ‘felicitazioni!’ to CD – and I couldn’t agree more with him, it was an awesome ride that probably Spartacus himself would have been amazed by…

Well, we recovered our breaths for a short while whilst riding with the group we’d just caught up with, but then we left them in our dust again – on the next downhill.  CD clearly was on fire, he claimed later that his Garmin showed speeds in excess of 100 kph – mine did not, but I assure you, we were going down that hill really, really quickly nonetheless.

Now we got to the bottom of the first major hill, the one that I had so viciously (and imprudently) attacked in the first lap.  This time, CD and I would ride up together, not holding back (certainly no more U-turns!) but not deliberately dropping one another either – still, I knew about CD’s awesome advantage going down the hill on the other side, so I decided to push the pace and thus buy myself some respite for the descent.  Initially it worked and I left CD behind for a bit – only for him to then re-appear, as if by black magic, on my back wheel and then not letting go again.  Clearly, there would be no breather for me at the top today…

So then, how did both ascents compare, the first lap vis-à-vis the second?  Have a look for yourself!

As you can see, they are both pretty similar – giving you an idea as to the effort I put into both climbs.  Obviously, I “lost” circa three minutes doing my little U-turn on lap 1, but it turned out that the final time difference on the top of the climb was only some five minutes.  In other words:  had it not been for the U-turn, my second climb would have been only some two minutes faster than the first – and that’s despite the fact that I was not holding back on any part of the climb in lap 2, seeing as I was trying to get some distance between CD and myself so I could rest on the descent…  I guess one can already see the effect of fatigue creeping up quite visibly at this point?  Well, certainly on the bike at that moment, my legs did not feel fresh anymore at all…

So it was with a feeling of on-setting cramps that I hit the feed station on top of the hill like a man possessed.  Several Red Bull and energy gels were downed without even swallowing, my bottle refilled with more Red Bull – and all just in time before CD demanded a hasty departure again…  And needless to say: there was no bumbling along on this descent either, trying to hang on to CD’s back wheel.

By the time we reached the valley floor, I was toast.  We had at that point almost 3:30hs of riding in our legs, virtually none of that in the flat, and in my case, a lot of it at or even above my pitiful lactate threshold…  clearly, I was going to have to pay a price for my earlier cockiness up that hill.  Especially, as the last hill of the day was still ahead of us.

But for the time being, getting to the foot of that hill was my only concern.  Luckily, CD had no problem with me sucking wheels for a bit – or at least he didn’t let it show.  He just got to the front and started rolling like an unstoppable machine.  Rider upon rider we met – and we passed.  Most of the guys were happy for some company (and slipstream I suppose), so soon enough, CD and I had amassed ourselves a group of some five to ten people.  Some of them even still able and willing to put in some work at the front, giving CD a very well-earned break – I for one, however, could only sit in the back.  No chance of me putting in an effort at the front – it would have been the end to my day.

Soon enough, with burning legs and lungs in my case, we reached the bottom of the final climb.  Knowing that the finish line was awaiting at the top, I decided to put everything into it… even if it meant tapping into energy reserves within my body that are usually safeguarded and not to be trifled with;  stuff, which is only to be dipped into and used up when chased by a bear or a shark or in some other life-threatening situation.  Think one of thos “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” boxes…  J

Well, I did break the glass.

And still, CD had to wait for me!  More annoyingly, when compared to the first ascent on lap 1, we weren’t even that much quicker.  Have a look for yourselves:

Whilst CD and I were indeed climbing consistently faster on lap 2, the total time difference at the finish amounted to only circa two minutes…  I’ve looked at the power data back home: the charts made it seem like I had held back on lap 2.  I rarely managed to push more than 200 watts, my heart rate hovered at, but did not go much beyond 170bpm (I max out at circa 185bpm) – so it looked to me, in retrospect, like there had still been room.  You know, room for having gone quicker.

But I can honestly say that it was simply not possible on the day to quench even another tenth of a kph out of our speed going up that final climb.  By the time we reached Bad Kleinkirchheim for the second time, I was hyperventilating and… well… crying.  I’ve never experienced this sort of emotional elation at any sporting event I’ve taken part in so far.  Ever!  But when we crossed the line, I was just spent.  Totally and utterly spent.  There was no ounce of energy left in me and my whole thinking was focused on getting my breathing back on track and the shaking to stop.

Once that was done, though, a rush of endorphins hit and a sense of achievement overcame me like I’ve rarely known before.

And it may well be due to that endorphin rush, but as soon as the bikes were stowed, the post-race pasta was eaten and a warm shower had, the plan was hatched to come back again in 2014 and try to better our times – and by then to hopefully get a shot at the famous Nockalm Road, too.

Back to sports eight weeks after delivery – serious cycling on the Nockalm Road

By Spinning Mum:

Wohooo! I am back on track :) And a lot has happened during the past few weeks, so let me share my plans and experiences with you.

After a bunch of early morning sessions and several long rides on the weekends I am now officially back in the saddle and my new playmate – the oh so racy BMC RM01 I got late last year – won’t collect any more dust hanging on our bedroom wall. Instead it will be seen in it’s natural habitat a lot these days since I giddily signed up for my first cycle marathons ever after I came home from my first 100+ km tour this season.

Shortly after the endorphins wore off I was close to admitting myself to a mental institution for making such a lightheaded decision. But by then the admission fee was already paid for and I told myself that if I can run a mountain marathon with only two weeks of half-assed training on the treadmill, I might as well survive the ~60km routes of the Carinthia Cycle Marathon this month and the Garmin Velothon in June.

With only a few days left, I am currently using every minute I can spare to prepare myself for these ordeals. So let’s see if my plan works out…

The good thing about the baby alarm which by now goes off almost precisely at 04:30 a.m. is, that I am all geared up and ready to hit the road for two hours around fivish which surprisingly does not bother me all too much. In fact, I really enjoy the peace and quiet knowing that Kai is dealing with the daily morning madness of getting both kids dressed and fed. If you have young kids too, you know that this could be a bigger challenge than riding a Dutch bicycle with two flat tires. Especially now that Konstantin is walking and enjoying his newfound independence, the difficulty level of putting him into fresh nappies is comparable to catching a salmon with bare hands.

But seriously, taking turns in using the early morning hours to work out enables both of us to squeeze in some training no matter what the day will bring, e.g. long office hours (5 out of 7 nights); the feeling of being at the edge of a nervous breakdown due to a cranky toddler who is trying to use his new teeth on your big toe whilst you are comforting a querulous newborn and thus almost accidentally prepare the family hamster for dinner (2 out of 7 nights) or simply the fact that it is raining cats and dogs outdoors and the bad weather bike is locked miiiiiles away in the basement (luckily a less frequent sensation)… ;)

So, what shall I say… heading towards the sunrise on top of a high-class racer, iPod in ear, just feels awesome and allows me to gather the energy I need in order to take care of the kids, manage the household, get a bit of freelance work done and – if I am lucky – write a blog post in the hours to come.

On the weekends Kai and I usually have to split up if we want to get some serious training. While one of us is holding the fort (or playground) the other can go for a long ride. Unfortunately, family time is therefore limited to the mealtimes and evenings but we will certainly put our Chariot to use regularly for trips at a lower intensity like we did the other day.

Another idea to spend quality time together in the future would be to define a nice destination for a day or weekend trip, mount the bike rack, pack the kids and take turns riding and driving along the way. We did not actually try this yet, but I believe that the Live Track function of my Garmin Edge 810 will ensure that that the rest of the family has an instant update about when to leave home in order to arrive at the designated venue roughly at the same time or where to pick up a totally exhausted spinning mum :)

So, as you can see you do not necessarily have to be a superhero to control the catch-22 situation of spending time with your family and participating in a time consuming sport. However, being with a supportive partner who (ideally shares your interests) helps you to check the tire pressure and to prepare the kids’ breakfast the night before, helps tremendously ;)

Initially, I wanted to write about my first training sessions and improvements throughout the my first four weeks of training at this point, but as usual, it took me almost a decade to finish this article and I do not want to bore you with endless statistics, while I have a much more interesting story to share:

Currently we are staying in the region where the Carinthia Cycle Marathon is going to take place next weekend, which enables us to get used to the altitude and to check out the routes. On this account I had the chance to ride the renowned Nockalm Road, which is part of the long marathon route, Kai is about to master.

Actually, I did not plan to engage in some serious climbing lunacy when we got here, as I wanted to save my power for the actual race on Sunday, but after Kai went for a training ride along this legendary pass road and came home totally exhausted but also loaded with endorphins I couldn’t resist trying to tackle it myself.

As mentioned, the Live Track function of my Garmin would enable Kai to come to my rescue anytime in case my legs would explode, so I had nothing to loose and started my epic journey early this morning in rainy weather from our holiday home close to the Turracher Höhe.

I was shortly considering to chicken out as I was not eager to ride steep descends and hairpin-bends on wet tarmac and was already peeing my pants anyways because I was scared of my weaker self. After all, I have never tried anything like this before. But in for a penny, in for a pound… Jaunty Spinning Mum had a mission to complete!

So, I left the warm and cozy cottage and had to start climbing right away in order to get to the beginning of the Nockalm Road. Getting there was already a little adventure itself since after a short 12% warm up climb a steep and winding descend of 24% led me to the actual starting point of today’s torture. What a dreadful but exciting experience! I couldn’t help but scream when the digits on my speedometer passed 75 km/h.

Luckily the rain stopped when I arrived at the actual starting point legs still shaking with fear. After a quick glance on the steep road in front me, I was literally asking myself what the hell I was doing. But since I was also shivering from the downhill airstream I thought it might be a good idea to brace up and start to sweat. And hey, I was really curious to find out why so many riders talk about the Nockalm Road in awe.

The first few kilometers were not as bad as I initially thought but once I passed the toll booth an average gradient of 10% led me up to the first summit and I was counting the serpentines to the top. I do not know how often I was screaming along these seemingly endless 12 km – at first because my legs were burning later because it started snowing shortly before I reached the first crest. WTF! Wearing shorts and leaving the leg warmers behind was not a good idea I suppose and suddenly it occured to me why the guy who came down the road wrapped up like an Eqyptian mummy gave me funny looks.

With chattering teeth I did not take the time to enjoy the scenery and just quickly gobbled up my first Squeezy Bar before I started my descend. A glance on my Garmin told me that the temperatures dropped to freezing 0 degrees Centigrade. Apparently these conditions were even too harsh for the marmots to leave their dens. Damn! Seeing some of these adorable little critters was one the main pull factors getting me up here.

Here’s a picture of what I did not see:

But only minutes later I had different things to worry about: the snow changed to hale (ouch!) and the airstream was numbing every uncovered bit of my body. Believe me, by now I was cursing and swearing aloud and I had to stop half way through the descend because I could not feel my fingers anymore and pulling the brakes became almost impossible. I can’t remember that I ever felt so cold before.

Thank god, the weather slowly improved and when I entered the second ascend I was feeling a bit less miserable. To my surprise I still wasn’t fully recovered when I reached the second summit though my heart rate went up to 175 bpm and the last few meters to the top were really challenging. But the Sufferfest decal saying ‘IWBMATTKYT’ (I will beat my ass today to kick yours tomorrow) I put on my top tube gave me the much needed motivation though my legs were burning and there was no lower gear left. And now guess what? Reaching the second last bend before the top, it started snowing again! As the marmots still were nowhere to be seen, I did not bother to sojourn at the top. Scared of slippery road conditions I quickly munched another energy bar trying not to look too jealous at two fellow maniacs with a support vehicle providing them with warm clothes. Lucky bastards!

Although the hailstorm failed to appear this time I had to pause the otherwise really nice descent again in order to defrost. And though I really wanted to complete the same route Kai finished the day before, I could not resist to ask him to pick me up. Freezing terribly and shaking like a leaf I continued my journey for another 10km after leaving the Nockalm Road until I hit the wall due to insufficient food intake. Thankfully Kai arrived just in time and found me the very same moment I decided to collapse on a bench on the wayside.

This is the point where I just did not want to go any further:

Looks as if Kai was speeding here a little too much before :)

Well, maybe I did not find out if I could have finished Kai’s route this time, but I am certain that I could have performed better if I would have watched my food intake and if I would have dressed wisely (lessons learned!), but I am extremely proud that I survived the Nockalm Road – which leaves me with a total of roughly 60km and a total altitude gain of 1,900m – just eight weeks after Johanna was born.

Guess, now that I know what I am capable of and survived all possible stages of freezing (freezing from anxiety, freezing from cold and freezing from exhaustion), I do not have to be scared of the upcoming events anymore… So, bring it on!

Cycling from Vienna to Sölden the route becomes the destination… probably next year

By Spinning Mum:

Some weeks ago when Kai and I were planning our trip to Sölden for the Big O we were discussing the possibility to start off our journey a bit earlier in order to take turns cycling and driving along the way.

Frequenting the Ötztaler Radmarathon Facebook Fan Page Kai coincidentally came across an interesting post. The organisers of the Oetztal Cycle Marathon are offering a long distance rally from Vienna to Sölden for 20 ambitious cycling amateurs. During a period of six days between August 18th and 23rd the enthusiastic participants have to overcome the following six demanding stages:

Baden (near Vienna) – Graz 181 KM; 3,447 meters in altitude
Graz – Großraming 219 KM; 2,050 meters in altitude
Großraming – Abtenau 157 KM; 2,344 meters in altitude
Abtenau – Großglockner – Lienz 171 KM; 3,288 meters in altitude
Lienz – Felbertauern – Gerlos – Innsbruck 199 KM; 2,803 meters in altitude
Innsbruck – Sölden 111 KM; 1,910 meters in altitude

At a price of roughly EUR 1,000.00 taking part in this weeklong adventure is not quite inexpensive but it certainly beats your mama’s run-of-the-mill package holidays which are often more costly and infamous for leaving you with more than just a little weight gain and training deficit :) Plus, there is much more to the package: Next to a guaranteed admission for the 2014 Oetztal Cycle Marathon all starters receive fantastic goodies and excellent support along the way, including accompaniment by a service car, catering en route, etc.

Following the slogan ‘the route becomes the destination’, pregnant and combative me immediately thought “Wow, that would be a fun way to get to Sölden and with an accumulated distance of more than1,000 km and almost 16,000 meters altitude gain it is even more challenging than the Big O itself” (A fact I could banter Kai with over the next decade^^). Not forgetting to mention that it would be a fantastic story to share on cylcingparents.com :)

I blame it on the hormones that I was giddily thinking I could survive such an endeavour despite of my lack of training throughout the past months. So, I got in touch with the rally organisers from the Oetztal Tourism Board right away to find out more about the tour and would probably have been ending up submitting my application if our little belly dweller wouldn’t have axed this plan.

Actually at that point I was pretty certain that Konstantin’s premature birth would increase the chances of having another premature baby. Don’t get me wrong, I was absolutely NOT wishing for another early delivery, but (given the fact that I was suffering signs of early labour when I was only 29 weeks along) I had a strong gut feeling that Johanna also wouldn’t wait until the estimated date of birth. Against this backdrop the only bright side would have been an earlier start into the season and thus more training which would have been essential for the tortures of such an epic cycle tour.

Well, all the old wives’ tales about having another preemie after a preterm delivery proved to be false and Johanna took her sweet time cycling into this world. At the end she was even overdue and we tried everything to lure her out including a special cocktail mixed from spices, castor oil and cognac. Fie! Unfortunately, all these homespun remedies did not work and upon advice of my obstetricians I agreed to have the birth induced. Alas, this plan did not lead to the desired result either as it turned out that I was suffering from very weak contractions. Hence a Caesarean was unavoidable :( Worse Luck!

Thankfully the medical team did a great job and Johanna and I were both recovering quickly from the rushed operation. Nonetheless, in spite of (or actually due to) the fact that I was still dazed and confused from the anasthetics I was given one of the first things I asked even before I was rolled out of the recovery ward was “When exactly will I be able to start cycling again?” :)  [Since I did not particularly covered a C-section in my previous post about exercising after childbirth, I will share my latest insights by updating this article as soon as the little rascals allow].

But back to the actual topic of this post…
Since I had to revise my plans due to the prolonged recovery time, taking part in the rally to Sölden was no longer an option for me.Too bad… even if it would have meant countless sleepless nights wondering whether I am capable of handling the distance and altitude gain :)

Be that as it may, I will definitely keep the rally on my watch list for the coming year. For this year spending less time in the saddle gives me an opportunity to write more reviews, for example about the book ”Ich habe einen Traum… Ötztaler Radmarathon” by Ernst Lorenzi, chief organiser of the Oetztal Cycle Marathon, who was so kind to send us a copy when he learned about our blog due to my request for more information about the rally.

Thank you, Ernst. We are absolutely enraptured by the pictures, field reports, training tips and statistics you meticulously put together and hope that we will be able to share our thoughts about your book soon.

 

Exercising after childbirth – when to start and what to obey

By Spinning Mum:

At odd times I actually take my doctor’s advice serious and when I was showing signs of premature labour some weeks ago I really listened to him and forced myself to slow things down a bit. However, it was not until about 4 weeks ago that I totally paused my training for the upcoming weeks.

I am in the middle of week 40 now and miraculously survived 35 days without doing any sports but two sessions on the good old Tacx. Well, hardly survived I have to rephrase since I often feel fretful, ill-tempered and moody these days as I never had problems getting up from the couch or tying my shoes before. Plus, there is also the fact that I am super jealous that Kai has been admitted to Team Alpecin and my cool new BMC’s spot in the bedroom will most likely soon be taken by his S-Works Venge. Not to forget that due to Alpecin’s shampoos and tonics his hair could soon be looking much better than my fluffy postpartum mess. Grump! [Picture some comically drawn potty mouth font expressing my displeasure here.]^^

Come what may. If I might have to accept some hormone-induced hair loss again [Hey Dr. Kurt Wolff, this is your keyword... ;) ] it does not mean that I have to accept all other physical complaints, such as a weak pelvic floor, puppy fat and a flabby belly.

Being as vain as most other woman on the planet, getting my figure and fitness back as fast as possible was already my goal after having Konstantin. After leaving the hospital with our little rascal, I was virtually lacing up my running flats as soon as I closed the clinic door behind me in order to go for a run and test our Chariot on this occasion. Not caring much about postnatal gymnastic because as soon as I could see my feet again, I felt strong and ready to start where I had stopped before.

Big mistake…! Since my pelvic floor was still far too weak to keep up with high impact sports, I had to plan my jogging route around public toilets if I did not want to put one of Konsta’s nappies on. Luckily my ingenuousness did not cause any permanent damage and recovery yoga lessons paired with some cycling and low intensity training at the gym got me the results I was wishing for in no time. Nevertheless, this time around I did my homework and started some research about exercising after childbirth as I do not want to buy diapers for three family members in the future :)

So, here is what I learned from my doctor, midwife and various books and webpages.
However, please note that every pregnancy, delivery and body is different and the following advice and suggestions do not make up for an extensive consultation from a medical professional.

1. Being patient is the biggest challenge - Allow yourself the time to heal

Loosing weight and feeling at ease with their post baby bodies is on top of the mind of most young mums. But you have to remember that even if it is the most natural thing on earth to give birth, it is still very demanding and puts a lot of stress on the body – especially if perineal tear occurred or a C-section was unavoidable. The good news is, that does not mean you cannot start working on your abdomen soon after leaving the labour ward.
After you have been given green light from your doc, midwife or nurse, kick it off with doing regular Kegel exercises as they will support your recovery by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles which in turn influence many different body functions including a strong bladder and a good posture. Doing Kegels is fairly easy and you can do them anytime and anywhere, e.g. when nursing your baby or whilst taking a shower. Simply take a deep breath and when you exhale, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as if you want to stop the flow of urine and hold it for five seconds before you let go again as you inhale. Repeat these contractions about five to 10 times. After your lochia has stopped, you might want to try some pelvic floor trainers commonly known as Ben Wa or love balls. Don’t be embarrassed :) There are a couple of really sophisticated ones on the market, such as the pelvic weight set “Ami” by Je Joue or Fun Factory’s “Teneo” smartballs, which are carried at a lot of drug stores and respectable online shops.

2. Start with some light activities once you feel ready

…And I mean light. Though I know how hard it can be to stay patient, you will have to remember that slow and steady wins the race. Depending on whether you had a vaginal birth or a Cesarian, regular half-hourly to hourly walks with the pram, yoga and pilates are the most recommended post-partum activities and can be picked up right after your follow-up examination and consultation at your gynaecologist’s which normally will be scheduled about four to six weeks of your delivery. The good thing is, that a lot of hospitals and other institutions offer classes especially for mothers and babies, so that you can take your little squaller along and benefit from meeting and chatting to other mums. Moreover, you can include most of the exercises you will be taught to strengthen your core and abdominal muscles, such as pelvic tilts, glute bridges and leg slides, into your daily routine for even faster results.

3. Let’s get down to business

Depending on your prenatal fitness and your activity level throughout the past nine months, you are now prepared to work out several times a week at a moderate-intensity. Swimming, low-impact aerobics, a turn on the cross trainer and notably cycling are ideal for a smooth start. Start with 30 minutes sessions three times a week and extend your routine once you make progress. Make sure that you stay hydrated, allow for enough recovery and contact your physician if you experience abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding nausea or dizziness. Nowadays a lot of gyms offer child care solutions, so that you can enjoy some me-time without worrying about your little one.
If you are keen on cycling, cross-country skiing, walking or running, I can only recommend to invest in a Chariot instead of a regular stroller. They come with a lot of equipment, e.g. a special baby seat called the Infant Sling, which even allows you to use it as a pushchair for your newborn. [Read more about our experiences with the Chariot Cougar here.]

Last but no least keep in mind that you still have a certain level of the hormone relaxin in your body. During the past nine months its job was to loosen your joints and ligaments in preparation of giving birth. But it can cause the connective tissue to remain soft even months after giving birth. Thus, please be extra careful when you start sports again that put stress on your knees and ankles. Also take care if you were suffering from abdominal separation as it can take some time to heal properly. Crunches and sit-ups have to be avoided until you are fully cured.

This warning passed on there is only one thing left to say: Enjoy your workout and don’t forget to share your personal experiences in the comment section!

The Sufferfest

By Cycling Dad

Regular visitors to the Cycling Parents Blog may have already noticed my red-hot passion for turbo trainers and the sensations of seemingly endless training sessions, staring at sitcoms or just at the blank wall, thinking ‘this is not what I signed up for when I picked up cycling as a sport’ or ‘just kill me to make this end’. I despise turbo trainers. They are humiliating contraptions spat out by hell itself. Their sole purpose is to make man suffer.

So far, my strategy of avoiding the turbo trainer and the suffering that comes along with it has not been very successful. I am three months into my preparations for the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon, and have spent hundreds of kilometres on the trainer, suffering. A quick glance out the window at masses of snow gives me a premonition that there will be many more kilometres to follow… so…

I decided that, just as Churchill once said, I shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. Let there be a Sufferfest! (He didn’t say the later part).

The Sufferfest is a Sufferlandria-based, government-owned broadcast system that claims to make the hardest, most exciting, most get-on-your-bike-and-suffer-your-ass-off cycling training videos in the world. They make these videos as part of a secret training programme for the national cycling team. As Sufferlandria is a poor country, they have to sell their videos online. You can purchase them at affordable prices from the Sufferfest website. Here is a sample of what you get:

 

I applied for the right to abode in Sufferlandria, and was surprised to receive a letter from the King himself. He offered me to review some of the videos and even invited me to become a Knight of Sufferlandria, if I prove worthy. In his letter, the King also disclosed to me that it was the Sufferlandrian government that was there, negotiating with the police in the station after that arrest involving the Porsche, the night club and the box of hamsters. He did not go into details, but told me that he’s glad I got my life back together.

He also included some words of wisdom, which I shall be glad to recite:

- “To live is to suffer. To survive is to find a meaning in the suffering.”
- “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls. The most massive characters are seared with scars.”
- “Only through trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened.”
- “A man who fears suffering is already suffering what he fears.”

Amen.

I decided to take on this bonus mission, and will report about my learnings on this blog.

IWBMATTKYT

Cycling for children in need

By Cycling Dad:

As given away by the name of our blog, CyclingParents.com is not only about our love for cycling, but also about our love of having a family. When my wife Alex and I became parents, we knew immediately that we wanted to do something for children who have a less fortunate start into life than our own. We also wanted to see where our contributions are going, so when we learned that there is a SOS Children’s Village very close to where we live, we made the logical connection.

At the peak of the 2013 cycling season in August, I will attempt to finish the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon, covering a distance of 238km and 5,500 meters in altitude gain. For each meter in altitude, I will try to raise one Euro in donations for the SOS Children’s Village in Hinterbruehl, Austria. That’s 5,500 Euro for children in need, and will help me keep focused along the way. I am planning to select one meaningful area for spending the donations together with the Children’s Village, and will write about my experiences along the way in this blog.

Please support me in my endeavour and donate as little or as much as you can spare.
To donate, please click here and follow the instructions on the following pages.
To learn more, please visit http://www.cyclingparents.comhttp://www.sos-childrensvillages.org,  the webpage of the Children’s Village in Hinterbruehl (German) and http://www.oetztaler-radmarathon.com.

Please also share this fundraiser on Facebook, LinkedIn, or simply by talking about it with friends and colleagues over a cup of coffee.

P.S.: Your donations to SOS Children’s Villages are fully tax deductible. All you have to do is submit the banking transaction along with the request for tax credit in your annual tax return.

Thank you!

How to get access to the Ferry Dusika Cycling Stadium

Dusika Stadion Vienna
Photo: Florian Ertl

There may be quite a few cyclists out there who are wondering how to get access to the Ferry Dusika Cycling Stadium. I am not just talking about residents of Vienna and its suburbs, but also those of you living close to the Austrian border in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. For all of us, I have assembled the following step by step guide – so you don’t have to go through the research or struggle with translating the available resources, which are mostly in German.

The address of the stadium is Engerthstraße 267-269, 1020 Wien, Österreich.
Here you can find it on google maps.

Getting to the Ferry Dusika velodrome is quite easy. I you are already in Vienna, you can get there with metro line U2, the station is called ‘Stadion’. The much larger Ernst Happel stadium is right next to the velodrome, so look out for the Ferry Dusika Stadium. If you come by car, please note that you can’t park directly at the stadium. However, there are paid parking lots available at the Stadion Center shopping mall, just across the street.

In order to get access to the track, you have to hold a valid UCI racing (or track training) license, which can be obtained from most amateur cycling clubs. With the license, you can apply for an access card to the velodrome, which costs around EUR 50, and gives you access to the track for a full calendar year (Jan-Dec). Contact persons can be found on the website of the ÖRV – Österreichischer Radsportverband. Hedwig Weisz or Christian Langhammer are the right persons to contact. They will also be happy to help you with any English inquiries.

You will need to bring a track bike as there are no rentals available at the stadium, which is a shame and on my list of topics to discuss with ÖRV. Track cycling is a lot of fun, and it would be nice to give more cyclists a chance to give it a try. Shop around for used track bikes on bikeboard.at or other cycling forums. There are also great track bikes available from Dolan, but spending EUR 600 for equipment that you may only want to use from time to time is a tough call. Bikes can be stored at the velodrome, but you will be asked to remove it prior to major events, which take place every couple of months. One last thing, make sure to check out the track schedule before heading out.

Looking forward to seeing you on the track, or on any of the Cycle Marathons in my event schedule (top of the page).

Keep in touch!

We love to hear from you!

By Cycling Dad:

Today’s post will be a bit different from what you have read previously on cyclingparents.com, but I wanted to share this story with you.

In a nutshell Joachim, a cycling parent from Canada, has found our blog on the net and sent us valuable feedback and input for our further training. His message matters a lot to Alex and me, because Joachim is a person whom we have never met first hand, who still felt inspired by our blog to share his experiences on the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon with us. It is part of the true spirit of cycling and we immediately felt connected with Joachim. With Joachim’s consent, I have attached the first two emails of our conversation.

We love to hear from our readers. Who are you? Please leave a short comment below.

________

Here’s Joachim’s first email:

Hi Cycling Parents,

Just wanted to wish you good luck with the Oeztaler plan! I am a cycling parent in Canada now, but I lived in Vienna for a few years and did that event 3 times. I just wanted to share 3 things with you, just to add to your arsenal of information, and help you prepare:

1- you really need a powermeter (you can get second hand wired Power Taps on ebay, www.bikeboard.at‘s sale forum, etc etc). This will let you monitor your progress accurately so you aren’t just riding around, or thrown off by low pulse from undertraining or overtraining, etc. It shows you whether your training is actually working, so you can adjust it as you go, and aren’t just following a plan that works for somebody else’s bodytype but not yours. It will teach you a ton as you progress towards your goal (which will be good information to know for the future too). And it is fun watching your efforts for certain climbs and rides, especially on the indoor trainer (3, 5 or 20 minute efforts become like a video game). I can’t recommend this investment enough! (more helpful than light wheels, fancy carbon parts).

2- I had the sense that most people in Austria were a bit behind in training theory: I did better each year at the Oeztaler by riding less and less, and then moved to Belgium and raced for 2 years on even less riding, while stronger than ever. You can train your “Functional Threshold” by going out for 6 hour rides, doing shorter intervals (like your 5minute ones, or even mild intervals that train your cardio, like 14x 1 minute at tempo pace), or 2x 20 minute time trial intervals, or just 2-3 hours at a brisk tempo pace. Much more fun, and doesn’t eat up all of your time. This is all explained here http://www.biketechreview.com/performance/supply/47-base-a-new-definition. (Comment Cycling Dad: The link to Bike Tech Review seems to have a problem… I can recommend Chris Carmichael’s book on interval training instead: http://www.amazon.de/The-Time-Crunched-Cyclist-Powerful-Athlete/dp/193403083X)
My best Oeztaler happened while doing no rides longer than 3 hours, aside from one other Radmarathon (Deutschlandsberg) the week before Oeztaler, just to get some practice sitting on the bike for many hours. Because you used to race, I think this would work for you too.

3- Having knowledge/experience really helps at Oeztaler, so talking to others and learning from them is great (Jurgen Pansey’s blog, bikeboard forums, www.jimmisteiner.com/?q=node/269, my first attempt www.joachim.ca/test/?p=38, my last www.mountainbiker.at/de/mlr_racers/show_report?id=598). It doesn’t matter if others are a bit faster or a bit slower, as the goal is the same (to finish strong, safe and healthy).

Sorry for the long email- this is stuff I learned through trial-and-error and from a coach that I wish I knew when I was 19 years old. I’m now living in Canada, and have a 2-year old, so no more Oeztalers, but I look back on that as the highlight of my cycling career!

So good luck in your preparation- I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. Reading about your training rides around Wien and Moedling in the snow bring back great memories.

All the best, Joachim

________

and my reply:

Hi Joachim,

Thank you so much for your email. Alex and I were very surprised to receive feedback from someone whom we did not drag onto our mailing list in the first place ;) .

You are the first ‘outside’ visitor of our page whom we get to know. Nice to meet you!
Your message gives us motivation to keep training and blogging. Both has become a bit harder lately, with Alex’ pregnancy going into the third trimester, work keeping me extremely busy with the final sprint to the end of the calendar year, and Konstantin starting to crawl all over the place, wanting to be looked after.

Thank you also for your advice in preparing for the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon. The recommendation regarding the powermeter meets my open interest and I have been looking around a bit already, especially as the Garmin is ANT+ enabled. The link to Bike Tech Review that you sent along sums up the main benefits of threshold training quite well. As cycling parents, all of us are very time crunched. So getting most out of the limited time we can spend on the bikes is crucial.

And last, but not least I enjoy any personal story about the Oetztaler that I can find. Kudos for your 277th place in 2006 and especially the 50th in 2008!! I have visited all the blog links you sent along and have been to Juergen Pansy’s blog a couple times before. I also love Cervelover’s blog for all the detail he provides about his personal experience on the Oetztaler. If you can read German, here’s the link: http://cervelover.blogspot.co.at/2012/08/climax-beim-otztaler-radmarathon-2012.html. His placement most likely is closer to my own performance to be, if I can manage to finish the distance and altitude gain at all, which of course is my prime objective.

I have two questions that I would like to send back to you. The first: Are you still cycling these days? What is your experience today, trying to combine family, job and cycling? The second: Would you mind if I post this conversation in the blog? I really enjoyed your message, and would love to receive more feedback, also from other readers, in the future. Please do keep in touch.

Will keep you posted.

All the best,

Kai

Why Spinning Mum’s bike has a name

By Spinning Mum:

You might have been wondering why I always refer to my bike as ‘Julie’ though normally I  do not belong to those people who refer to their dish washers as Harry or their cactuses as Emanuela.

Not that I do not like how some of my friends personify their cars, computers and vacuum cleaners, but my creative powers simply always ceased after finding witty names for our hamsters, so that the only non-living items in our household carrying names are probably the infamous Billy book cases available at a Swedish furniture store.

Okay, I am wandering off the point… So here is the story why my ride got a name:

I decided to get my own bike after only three times out on different rental racers I borrowed from Riders Pro Bike Shop in Tung Chung. When I returned my last ride – a well used but oh so smooth running black and yellow GIANT roadie which reminded me of the most likeable Transformer ‘Bumblebee’ – our dear bestower and co-rider Andy had the perfect entry level road bike on offer: a MERIDA ROAD RACE HFS 904-COM. I could score a good deal because it was a previous year model and could save some extra cash by changing the original wheels to Kais old set of Gipiemme rims.

 

Shortly after I took my precious new birthday gift home for some further adjustments the curious rookie rider in me wanted to check what I actually invested in. I tortured google and found out that MERIDA’s girly versions all carry the epithet “Juliet” to distinguish them from their brothers. Though I actually got the Romeo-version, somehow this info got stuck in my brain and when I took a first test ride around the airport later on that rainy day, I unconsciously started to call my new ride ‘Julie’.

This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and I took Julie out to the streets around Hong Kong Disney Land almost every day. Given the fact that I spent at least one hour a day in the saddle, this quirky behaviour became a habit soon. Partly because I absolutely treasure my bike and partly because I think that we are a good team speeding around and pushing up steep hills. You won’t believe how often I catch myself thinking: “We will make it up there, Julie” – true to the motto a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved :)

That’s it – plain and simple and maybe a bit loco, too.
How about you? Has your bike a name?