To begin: 1200 cyclists were at the Ortler Bike Marathon (South Tirol, Italy) on 11 June 2016, despite pouring rain at the start. From the beginning, the route followed asphalted, unsurfaced roads and trails along a climb of almost 2000 m. The speed was at a good, competitive pace and temperatures were cool, between 8 and 16 degrees centigrade, with constant rain. The second part of the 90km route, after a further clumb of around 1000 m, saw fantastic views over the Ortler Massif mountains and quick trails. Exhausted and happy, we finished as a team within the top 200 in Glurns. Despite everything, during this race we felt weak, sometimes fighting to reach every bend with the last bit of strength we could muster. We often felt we were going to “die” but after each hill, we were “reborn“. A crazy feeling! I call this “active meditation”...
Actively meditating on a bike
2016 mountain bike marathon – In 2016 we took part in 6 international mountain bike races jointly as the Viacor Factory Team
I often asked myself “why am I putting myself through this?”. I couldn’t answer this question, instead we kept encouraging each other and when one of us was feeling weak, the strong ones would keep us going. Together we achieve more! We wanted to make it, really wanted to improve on last year’s time and we all wanted to cross the finish line together.
In the end, exhausted, we made it. My initial reaction was that’s it, I never want to put myself through that again. I was completely shattered. Thomas and Boris just laughed at my words.
After returning to the “Saegemuehle” campsite in Prad am Stilfserjoch and spending an hour under a hot shower and having a reviving drink, I had a new idea – to take part in the National Park Bike Marathon in Scuol, Switzerland in August. This repre-sented a real challenge with a longer route of 140 km and a climb of 4400 m.
Boris and Thomas just looked at me as if I were com-pletely mad, but after their first beer they began to think about it and after the second beer they agreed to take part. So that was that… and now we‘d find out what we were made of! Digging deep, developing ourselves, managing our resources, this is where we would face up to the many demands in every respect. Strength, endurance, determination, technical ability, courage, fear, intelligence. Everything has to be thrown onto the scales. More about this later.
Exactly one week later we started the Ultra Bike in Kirchzarten in the Black Forest in trying conditions of cold, mud and rain. With almost 5000 cyclists taking part, this is the largest bike marathon in Central Europe. Once again we had formed a team and we finished in the top third. Boris unfortunately had to finish the race early, due to a broken chain.
On 6 July 2016 at the Albstadt marathon on the Swabi-an Alps we were rewarded with summery conditions. Here the ascents were equally demanding but not as long as those in the race in the high mountains. Instead there were very sudden changes of pace. The body isn’t able to put itself in uphill or downhill mode or to be able to make a quick recovery so it’s constantly on "full speed”. There weren’t as many single trails but the descents on the stretches in the woods were quicker. A flat tyre unexpectedly upset our rhythm but this was quickly fixed.
After the summer holidays, on 27 August 2016 we headed into the Lower Engardine Valley to Scuol in Switzerland. With over 140 km and a climb of well over 4000 m as well as a technically demanding course, the Nationalpark Bike Marathon was the high point of this year‘s season. But we were all unsure as to whether we were ready for this course, and could we even make it within the time limit?
In the early morning at the start of the course, the temperature gauge was showing a cool 6 degrees centigrade, but during the day this rose up to almost 30 degrees. This time everyone was racing individually but unfortunately Thomas had to retire due to a fall which completely destroyed his back wheel. Luckily he was uninjured apart from a few bruises. The rest of us successfully reached the end in one piece.
We spontaneously decided the night before, that we would take part in the Albtrauf bike marathon in Gru-ibingen which took place on 11 September 2016. The warm weather made this race, 94 km long with a climb of 2800 m, steep ascents and quick trails, exhausting but rewarding. During the season our fitness had developed in different ways so we all raced individually. The German championship will take place on this course in September 2017.
We ended the season on 2 October 2016 with the Alb Gold Trophy long distance race in Trochtelfingen. We thought this would be the least strenuous route of the entire season, however it was very quick, demanding similar levels of fitness as the well known marathon in Albstadt.
Ultimately we have all developed our performances and sense of wellbeing as well as our sense of together-ness during the year. The fun factor increased hugely and we all felt joy, camaraderie and a sense of expectation for more. To summarise, having nice things isn’t what matters, experiences are what count! We can keep these with us forever and these are what makes the exhausting efforts worthwhile. Achieving these successes together in a team made the achievements even sweeter and more fun.
Together we are all looking forward to the start of the new season in 2017 and we would love to welcome more cyclists to our VIACOR RACING TEAM so get in touch!
Yours Ralf Jooss