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.

On the road with baby Konstantin

By Cycling Dad:

One part of the reason why this blog has got its name is due to the special baby pram we decided to get for Konstantin earlier this year - a Chariot Cougar. The Chariot enabled us to actually become Cycling Parents, without necessarily depending on a baby sitter. One thing you have to know about Chariots is that they come from the future and usually live in outer space. On earth, they are hiding in plain sight by being sold as Child Transport Systems and taking different shapes. Here are some mugshots from the manufacturer’s website:

Ours is a bicycle trailer with an occasional sideshow appearance as jogger. If we were asked about the best purchase we made in 2012, this would have to be it. The Chariot Cougar has allowed us to take Konstantin along anywhere, from cycling weekends in Styria and Lake Neusiedl to hiking tours on the Nassfeld and Zugspitze mountains to long strolls through Vienna and the Schoenbrunn Place park. We especially enjoyed the cycling tours we made as a family. Since we knew that Alex is pregant again, we have not had that much time to go out on rides together, but we have already started making plans for 2013. Hopefully, this blog will also become a collection of cycling stories with our children over time.

This past weekend provides me with the first story. As the regular visitor to this blog may know, I am following a three week training cycle, with one rest week between the cycles. This past week was a rest week, and as a result I only spent half an hour on the static trainer on Wednesday and went for shorter, slower one to two hour rides on Saturday and Sunday. For the first time since September, I loaded the Chariot with baby food, diapers, (polar-dressed) baby Konstantin and hit the road. I took Konstantin out on both days, but screwed up the first recording on the Garmin, so I can only show you the longer Sunday ride. Alex decided to stay at home and spent an hour on the static trainer, so it was Konstantin and me against the world.

There are a few dedicated long-distance cycling paths nearby, so chosing a route mainly off the main roads was quite easy. Not that there would be any problems in riding main roads – the Chariot comes with two bright tail lights, reflective stripes all around and a little flag raising from the tail end to ensure visibility. I always found motorists to be driving much more carefully when passing us with the baby carrier than on solo or group rides. Here are the details fresh from the Garmin (may take a few moments to load and appear on the page):

It was a beautiful winter ride on dry roads, with cold but crisp air and fully recovered legs. Konstantin enjoyed the ride, had a good look at the areas we were passing through and eventully fell asleep for about one hour. He woke up shortly before we got home and had a big lunch afterwards. Who was pulling the trailer again?? With so many new impressions, I am sure that we will again sleep well tonight.

Pulling a trailer is work. You notice not only when going uphill (check out my heart rate during the ride). The Chariot comes at 11kg, Kontantin has around 9kg and all the gear adds another 5-10kg. Still, hooked up to a decent bike you can easily sustain a 25k average speed in the flat and enjoy a good workout.

What I enjoyed most next to the ride was having the opportunity to spend some time with my son, while giving him some outdoor time in the fresh air and Alex a bit of a break from looking after our little bugger. He may still be too young to fully realize what is going on, but I hope that he will remember some of our rides and maybe learn to enjoy sports as part of a healthy lifestyle himself. I am planning to take Konstantin for more rides in the future, and am looking forward for Alex to join us again next summer.

Stay tuned for more stories from the Cycling Parents.