2013 Volcanoland Cycle Marathon | Vulkanland Radmarathon

By Cycling Dad:

May 6, 2013 – Today is Monday. I feel fried and at the verge of falling sick. Yesterday, I rode the Volcanoland Cycle Marathon (“Vulkanland Radmarathon”) in Feldbach, Styria, Austria. 124k in the pouring rain with 1466 m alt gain. Quite tough – especially after last week’s race in Moerbisch and a short, but fast run of the Vienna Woods time trial series on Friday. The Volcanoland Cycle Marathon must be a lot of fun in nice weather. Just look at the bizarre scenery above and imagine sunshine. Every race gives me the chance to travel to beautiful places in Austria and meet new people. I came in 22nd out of 35 starters in the <40 age bracket in Feldbach and 4th out of 7 in the time trial, which sounds much less spectacular than 110th out of 700+ as in Moerbisch. I guess I could have done better with a bit more training. Here’s the data from the Cycle Marathon:

Race Report:

I’ll have to keep it short as I already feel like falling off my chair any minute. Race day started early at 4.30 am. I was in the car by 5, driving till 7 so I could make it before registration cut-off time at 7.30 am (I know I should have registered weeks before…). Plenty of time to warm up, unlike Moerbisch last week. No need to put on sunscreen either – the race started at 8.30 am in light drizzle. There were merely 200 brave guys and gals at the starting line. The first kilometre leading up to the first 100 m alt climb was neutralised, so it was a very save start without any pushing and shoving. As there were two laps with a combined 124k ahead and almost 1500 m alt gain, I thought it sensible not to go full-out on the first hill, but rather settle into a somewhat sustainable pace (which turned out to be a GOOD decision..). The leading group with the first 50 riders immediately took off. In the meantime, the rain started pouring from the skies and made me really uncomfortable on the first fast descent that followed. Even though my Lightweight Obermayer wheels have superior braking performance in the wet (compared to other leading full-carbon wheels), there still is a huge difference to aluminium rims in heavy downpour. Nothing to worry about, but definitely something that takes time to get used to…

What followed was a constant change in incline, speed, heart rate and road conditions. I was hanging on to my handlebars, wondering when there would be time to have a safe sip from my bottles on this course. It took over one and a half hours for this moment to arrive. Clearly, this rough-rider still has a long way to go to find back to past glory…

Our group made a good pace. Over time, we collected more and more single riders and smaller groups from ahead and behind of us, amalgamating into a second peloton of roughly 40. We roughly stayed in this larger group for the remainder of the first lap, finishing the first 62k in roughly 1:50, with a 33.6 km/h average speed which I found quite impressive on this course profile.

On the second lap, more and more riders blew up on the hills and fell behind. It happened to me around 3:07 into the race. Left leg to brain: running out of glucose. Brain to right leg: do you have any left to share with lefty? Right leg: BOOM! You must have been able to hear the explosion in Vienna. Too much workload over the past weeks with too little previous training?

I was left with 45 minutes to go until the finishing line, seemingly running on the energy left in my thumb that’s normally used to push the button on the remote control. Pouring rain. Feeling miserable. The rest is history. 3:52 finishing time, 22nd out of 35 starters. Congratulations to all the fine ladies and gents who finished today’s ordeal.

I know that I will be back next year, beating my ass until then to improve my finishing time. This is a beautiful course, but today the weather did not quite comply.

Off to bed with a cold.