By Cycling Dad:
April 28, 2013 – Today I participated in my first race since many years: the 2013 Moerbisch Cycle Marathon | 22. Neusiedler See Radmarathon (German original name). Overall, it was a quite pleasant experience, but of course there is always room for improvement. I made position 110 out of 731 starters. Overall, I feel rather satisfied with my performance, considering the long break from amateur cycling and the fact that my legs still felt tired most of this past week from the Team Alpecin training camp in Mallorca (the article about it is still work in progress, but should go online in the coming days).
The Moerbisch Cycle Marathon covers 124k in distance with a comparably flattish 600m in altitude gain (at least that’s the data I get from my Garmin – the organisers even only show 300m – but I will stick with the Garmin data). I finished today’s course in 3:20:38 with an average of 37,4 km/h. Click here for the official results.
Here is the course and my data from today’s event:
I arrived to Moerbisch roughly one hour before the start at 10 am, leaving me plenty of time to walk around and pick up the starter package. At least in theory. What really happened was that after getting the gear ready, installing the timing sensor and putting on sunscreen, I barely had ten minutes left for warmup before heading to the starting line. It sort of worked out, but the first learning of my amateur racing comeback would be to factor in more time prior to the race. Easier said than done with a toddler and a newborn at home…
Arriving to the starting grid only minutes before the start of a race with over 700 riders means that there are a lot of riders in front of you… which was also the case today. As I was riding the Team Alpecin Specialized S-Works Venge and wore the full team kit, I briefly tried to talk my way into the special starting grid with the faster riders at the very front of the pack, but at no avail.
The starting signal came spot on 10am, but it seemed like minutes passed before the peloton slowly started moving. The first challenge of the course was a 200m climb in altitude over a series of hills that should quickly separate the field into several groups that could then take on the remainder of the course in roughly similar performance groups (at least in theory). As the track was a narrow rural road, it was difficult to pass other riders on the way up. I still managed to wiggle through somehow and must have gained 100 or 200 positions in this section. After roughly 10k, the rural road joins a regular country road which leads to the Klingenbach border crossing between Austria and Hungary. From here, there was a moderate decline for the next 10k. The speed picked up significantly and climbed to the upper 40s until shortly after Sopron. Along the way, we accumulated into a group of roughly 50 to 60 riders.
We just passed a roundabout, when the guy right in front of me took the corner too widely and got his wheels on the sandy shoulder of the road. He slipped at a fairly high speed and almost wiped me out when he came sliding back to the middle of the road. Luckily, he touched the ground on his side with no signs of a hard impact on his shoulders. When I glanced back, I saw him getting on his bike again. I hope he’s fine and finished the race.
After the crash, the speed dropped significantly and lingered in the mid thirties. Three or four of us tried to pick up the pace again, taking pulls at the front, but the majority of our group seemed determined to suck wheels all the way to the finishing line. I was wishing to ride this race together with a handful of teammates in order to be able to split the effort…
We crossed back into Austria near Pamhagen, where we hit head-wind. With only half the race distance left, the group woke up and more people finally joined the pacemakers. From Illmitz onwards, the group had a nice flow and a somewhat functioning alternating pull system installed in the front. We collected more slower riders along the way. Still, there were 40 riders staying in the back, sucking wheel…
On the last 40k of the race, a lot of movement started within the group, often leading to risky situations. Some of these riders were very strong – probably from thousands of kilometres solo training, but unexperienced of riding in a group. Then there were riders that were half blown-out, barely able to ride a straight line. And then again some of the guys were plain and simple idiots, squeezing themselves where there was no space, shoving their back wheels into other people’s front wheels when getting out of the saddle and swiping from one side of the road to the other as in a sprint final. On the final 10k, the speed picked up significantly again, but also the shoving in the peloton got worse and worse. There they were suddenly – all the wheel suckers who never took a pull at the front, getting ready for the grand sprint finale for position 100…
By the time we arrived to Moerbisch, my goal was simply to survive the last few corners unscathed – which seemed rather unlikely. I was just waiting for someone to go down infront of me or wipe me off the tires. It was close, but I guess today was my lucky day. At the end, I did not go all out in the sprint (what for?) and arrived in the front quarter of my group.
All in all, it was a fun race, but I could have done better a) starting from a better position further up front b) riding with a team and/or in a more experienced and motivated group and c) probably also with a bit more experience on my own side. Next year will show. Overall, the organisation of the Moerbisch Cycle Marathon was quite good and I can recommend the event.