2013 Moerbisch Cycle Marathon | 22. Neusiedler See Radmarathon

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:

Race Report:

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.

Rough Outline of a Training and Competition Plan

Many visitors of this post are looking for more information on how to get on the Ferry Dusika Velodrome in Vienna. Click here to jump directly to the corresponding blogpost.

By Cycling Dad:

There are nine months left until the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon… Fittingly, I do feel pregnant with the idea of finishing the Big O next year. Nine months, which will decide about victory (finishing the ordeal at all) and utter defeat.

As regular readers may have noticed, this scribe has been laboring with the development of his training plan for some weeks now. I got the winter gear, and more equipment is already on the way in order to increase the total sunk cost of the entire endeavor. I have collected bits and pieces of information here and there in the meantime, and have also started doing a few haphazard rides. Also, I still remember parts of my old Junior-Category training schedules. But how much is enough, and how to manage squeezing all this into my professional and family life?

Since last week I am a member of the local bike club RC Mödling and have hoped to find support from a coach there. But (un)fortunately the chaps here are a bunch of really nice people with a strong focus on spending quality time together. On club meetings (which of cause take place in a local pub), there are more cycling veterans with 50+ years road and race experience then I have ever seen bunched into one place. It’s fun, but on the downside there’s no coach, no structured team training and at this time of the year a stubborn resistance to leaving the pub for cycling. Still, Alex, Konstantin and I had a very warm welcome to the community and we are sure to make friends here. That is most important. And indeed, I have found a group of four regular riders that I can join on the weekends for the longer rides and some trash talk along the way ;) .

Back to the training plan. As my former coach Bill rightfully pointed out in reply to one of my earlier posts, “endurance mixed in with low-weight high reps sessions is the focus at this time of the year”. I think what the coach really wanted to say is “Kai, try to get through this winter without gaining too much weight. There’s cookies, drinks and you’ll try to find more excuses for skipping a ride or training session then there are lights on a Christmas tree”. The coach knows me, but he also holds six US national cycling titles and one PanAmerican cycling title. So his advice carries some authority. I will try to do some long rides on the weekends for endurance and mix in some squats and lunges on the sides for power. During the week, I am too time crunched for anything surpassing one hour of training time Monday through Thursday. With working days often ranging from 8am through 7pm, you go figure. Add in an hour commute per day and try to spend the remaining time with the family… Oh and there’s a new excuse problem: the neighbors have started complaining about our washing machine running for an hour between 5.30 and 6.30 in the mornings. So no more pre-work static training, unless I spend another 300 bucks for a more quiet static trainer. I have a personal history with static trainers, so that is not going to happen – especially as the vibrations seem to cause the noise in our neighbor’s bedroom… Getting on the trainer at 8.30pm after a day at work and preferentially after dinner? Tough call.. and potentially also prone to the objection from our (otherwise lovely) neighbours.

There are still other options, such as swimming and gym training. In fact I have spent one hour in the pool last Thursday evening and the week before (8pm through 9pm, before dinner) and the core training seems to ease the strain in my back from sitting in the office chair most of the day. I am not sure if this will make me faster in the saddle, but I guess I’ll give it a try and find out. Regarding gym training, I have signed up for a regular class “winter training for cyclists”, taking place each Friday night between 6pm and 8pm. Focus is – again – on core training and intervals. This may give me a good excuse for leaving the office a bit earlier on Fridays (which should be no problem), but the training takes place in Wiener Neustadt, which requires a 45 minute drive one way. I’ll check it out and let you know if it is worth the effort.

That still leaves Tuesday and Wednesday for more cycling-related action. What are the remaining options? Well, on the one hand there’s commuting to work by bike which could give me 55k per day… I have the clothes, and I still have some lights… let me think about it just a few more days…

And then there is the Ferry Dusika cycling stadion in Vienna. Yes, we are among the few blessed places in the world that actually have an indoor, wooden cycling track. With club membership, it would be just a small step to get permission to train there, but I need to find a track bike first. Dishing out another 600 bucks to get a basic model seems too painful, so I am trying to find someone to rent me a frame size 60 model. I would love to go on the track one or two nights per week during wintertime.

Dusika Stadion Vienna
Photo: Florian Ertl

So to put it into a nutshell, I am trying to fit two one hour sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, one hour of swimming on Thursday, one to two hours gym training on Fridays and long rides on Saturday and Sunday, most likely in the 70-100k range. A couple of squats and lunges sprinkled in between. I will try to increase intensity in a four week cycle, three weeks with steady increase followed by a rest week with just an hour or two of riding on the weekend. Incidentally, the plan more or less matches the training advice from British Cycling, which Mr. Eton was kind enough to procure from obscure sources. This outline should be good until end of January. I will then start with some interval training on the hills and significantly longer rides on the weekends in order to build more muscular endurance at high intensities. But there’s still time to work that out and hopefully some more advice from knowledgeable resources.

Training Plan? Check.


Competition Plan

In order keep me motivated to get on my bike and provide feedback on my preparation status, I figured that it may also make sense to plan some training races in 2013. I am sending this offer out to the world, to everybody who is interested to join me in one or several of these races - here is the rough outline of my competition plan for 2013, which may be amended in the coming weeks.

That’s it for now. It has taken me all weekend to finish this post as Konstantin is teething and has an unbelievably foul mood… Alex and the belly dweller are doing great and Alex is generally enjoying her pregnancy, apart from temporary times of nausea. Last but not least – here are the training statics of the past week:

3 hours on the trainer (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday)
1 hour in the pool – freestyle ca. 2.5k (Thursday)
75k road Saturday
85k road Sunday

It has been a good training week.