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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.

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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

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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

Cycling during pregnancy or “Are childbearing cyclists more prone to accidents?”

By Spinning Mum:

Okay, I have to admit it… The pregnancy fairy magically transformed me into a gym bunny and while I have not been seen on the roads around Lower Austria within the last six weeks or so, I have not entirely given up on cycling, yet. As I am writing this article, I am 24 weeks (6 months) along and though the spinning classes I am usually joining three times a week don’t actually make up for the smooth asphalt, steep hills and scenic views, I am currently feeling much safer on the stationary bike.

However, indoor training is not a good cure for getting green with envy when I see other riders fighting their way through the hilly woods. Not mentioning what happens every time Kai leaves the house with his beloved Cérvelo or when I am flipping through Tour magazine…

That is why I started wondering whether it is really necessary to let Julie collect dust in the garage for the weeks to come and started some research about cycling during pregnancy.

As mentioned in my previous post about exercising during gestation opinions about outdoor cycling differ tremendously and though most medical practitioners and trainers agree that cycling in general is a great way to keep fit whilst easing strain on ankles and knee joints, the biggest concern they share is the risk of falling.

Aha, this is right what I was worrying about when I decided to change my routine in week 17 though nobody actually ever told me to stay off the road. So, let’s dig a bit further here…

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) biking is a great low-impact sport and usually safe during a low-risk pregnancy – even for novices. Yet the ACOG suggests that beginners should rather stick to stationary cycling in order to minimise the risk of potential injuries to mother and baby.

They also recommend that even experienced riders should rather change their training to a static bike from their 2nd trimester onwards as their growing bellies might influence their balance. Furthermore, they point out that the bony structure around the pelvis does not protect the baby after the 12th week of pregnancy, so that little belly dwellers could be seriously harmed in a crash.

Okay. That makes me feel a lot better about not investing in warm bike wear this winter, but…

On the other hand I tend to believe that going on foot or by car can also bear its hazards when it comes to traffic related casualties and unless childbearing cyclists are more prone to accidents than their non-bumpy co-riders, the benefits I mentioned in my previous post might still outweigh the risks unless you are a Kamikaze rider.

For sure it is common sense that you should avoid bumpy off-road tracks or busy streets and refrain from racing or training in a pack but a moderate defensive training session on dry roads with only little traffic should still be fine, shouldn’t it?

Well now what to do?

It’s not an easy choice, but personally I think, I will stick to the spinning bike and static trainer for the last stretch of my pregnancy. Despite the fact that I came across articles claiming that most falls won’t affect the unborn and (knock on wood) I have not been kissing the asphalt so far, I do not want to push my luck.

Moreover I am simply not cycling as much as some of the pro riders who literally rode their racers to the labour ward and who probably have much more experience when it comes to handling dicey situations.

Thus, my dear Julie, I will see you in March and hope you will not give me sad looks whenever I enter the garage.