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!