Monthly Archives: July 2011

Changing Disciplines: Triathlon Waiblingen

Last weekend I participated in my first triathlon. Why did I do such a strange thing? Well, I was talked into it of course, by a friend who is a triathlete. I hate running and in the last three years I was out running maybe 10 times. The last time I was swimming with an exercise focus was nine years ago in high school. Good idea, eh?

Luckily it was only a short-track triathlon, called “Volkstriathlon”, and consisted of 500 meters swimming in an outdoor pool, 20k cycling and 5.4 k running. I went out buying new running shoes, goggles and a bathing cap and made a training schedule. Unfortunately I only had two weeks for practice. In that time I was running 15k, swimming 1.5k and cycling 410k. Probably I could as well have skipped the swimming and running part.

We drove over to Waiblingen close to Stuttgart where we connected the race with a family visit and lined up for the start early Sunday morning. It was freezing cold, for July, with only 14 degrees and I felt really uncomfortable in my swimming shorts. However, the swimming part went much better than I thought. I was even able to overtake some guys and needed less than 11 minutes. We jumped out of the pool and ran into the transition area. While all those freaks were directly jumping on their carbon time trial bikes in their (wet) triathlon suites I had to change into my BWR-uniform and went out on the course. What I had estimated my strong part unfortunately became not as fast as I was wishing. My goal was to complete the 20k in less than 40 minutes which I clearly missed with 44 minutes. Additionally I wasn’t able to catch one guy in the end that I was chasing for the whole cycling part. Pretty frustraing. However, I have to add that there were some hills in the course, we had some head wind and slipstreaming was forbidden. All in all those triathlon guys have more pressure on the pedal than I thought. But it became even worse: Running. I was simply slow. My legs couldn’t keep up with my lungs and I really felt the lack of running training. In the end I finished in 1 hour 22 minutes as 101st out of 152. Nothing I am proud of.

All in all it was fun, but not as much fun as a Mountainbike race and so I didn’t get infected with the triathlon virus. Will I do it again? Maybe next year, maybe on a longer, the so called “olympic”, distance. Now I am looking forward to Christmas, which is in less than two weeks. At least in Weidenthal. We will drive over to Schlaflos im Sattel on Thursday and have some relaxing time: Hanging around with friends, going to the Schlammbein-concert, having a couple beers and doing some little fun-laps without any pressure – that’s what I’m looking forward to now. And tonight I will go for a group ride on some fun trails, hoping to find my motivation again.



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12 Hours of Kühlsheim, by phil

12 Hours of Külsheim 2011

This is one of my favorite one day races in Germany; a fun course, great organisation and a cool atmosphere. Last year due to injuries sustained on the Tour Divide I had to sit it out. This year was going to be different.

Well, last month I took part in Grenzstein Trophy, a self-supported race along the old inner Germany border. I had to quit early due to knee problems. So going into Külsheim I was a little worried about my knee; would it hold up? Or would I have to bail on this race too?

This was to be my first race on my new bike: a Niner One 9 Single speed. On it some parts from various sponsors of Big Wheel Racing; like a White Bros. Magic 80 fork, ZTR Arch rims from Stan’s Notubes, Geax AKA tires and an assortment of parts from Singlespeed.NL. All worked flawlessly. The Geax tires roll really fast and have great traction in dry to moist conditions.

I started out as usual too fast but after two laps settled into a good rhythm. The weather was near perfect; maybe towards miday a little too hot but better than rain. The course was nice and dry and fast. My lap times were between 32 – 35 minutes through out the race. I took my first break at about the four hour mark and ate a sandwich. By then it was really beginning to heat up. I was popping Endurolytes from Hammer Products on every-other lap to keep me going. They worked too because I didn’t have an issue with cramps.

At the half way point I was starting to have doubts that I could go another 6 hours; after all I’d had ridden already 100 km. Somehow though you just keep going; taking it lap by lap, or better yet, section by section. I had my favourite parts; like the big whoop section where I could air it out a bit. If I caught it right I was able to fly over the last whoop motocross style. 😉

At the eight hour mark I needed another break and I needed some food other than energy bars; something salty. So Eric got me a cheese sandwich, or the German equivalent of one, tasty nonetheless. I have to say though that the cliff bars are the best tasting energy bars out there and they’re effective. Also the Cliff Shots are great; my favorite is the double espresso. I was alternating between one bottle with pur water and the other one with Carbo Rocket; good stuff, not too sweet but very effective and easy on the stomach.


On my 18th lap I started to notice that my left side crank arm was loose, so when I came back into the pits I tightened it down. Rene, a guy I met on the GST this year, rode up to me; he was lapping me. Anyway, we rode our last lap together and had some time to chat a bit.

Out of a field of 35 solo riders I finished in 7th place with 19 laps. I was very satisfied with my result and wouldn’t have done better with gears. There is no single speed category or age categories; otherwise I probably would have landed a podium spot. The main thing is that I had a great time and my knee held up, no pain what so ever.


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Part 2

Aid 3 and onto the mid pack!

July 21, 2011 by scarkinsmel

All I see is pain!

I hit Aid 3 feeling just a bit better, but they had Coke and I saw a rider looking so dejected that I was sure she had quit. She had, but it wasn’t her fault, her bike was broken, but it was her look of dejection that forced me to leave without so much as another thought of stopping.

Well walking was going to be something that I knew was going to be required, and knowing that I was prepared for the massively long climb out of Aid 3, but I am not sure what happened, Coke or I was just beginning to feel better, the climb was not so bad. I did hop off and walk for just a minute, but the thought came, why keep anything in reserve? Lets ride everything we can, the day is shot and I am not going to finish any better than last year. My first half of the race had been so bad…

Last good picture of the ride, and yes I looked much worse earlier!

I just rode until I just couldn’t keep the pedals turning over and to be honest, I really didn’t walk all that much. It seemed as if the trails had flattened out a bit and that even when I had to walk, my heart seemed to slow down as it is supposed to do when I was not killing myself turning over the pedals. My legs also seemed to just wake up and realized that after Aid 4 it was (nearly) all downhill! So I rode and kind of jogged and rode and kind of loped along until the descent into Aid 4.

Look into the distance and you should see a rider. I passed him on a descent!

To be honest I descend like a little girl afraid of her own shadow, well that isn’t fair, she would descend faster than me most days, but I had people I had been chasing all day and I could actually feel that I was making time on them. So I just let my brakes go and went for it…. Well as much I felt confident of, at least.

Last year I was cursing the descent into Aid 4, and then the descent to the end of the race, but this day I was wishing for more of descent. I finally felt like everything was working and I was finally passing folks. Mind you, for a better than 45th place, not first or second, but still, small victories. The run into Aid 4 is a bit treacherous and has one very bad corner. I thought I could ride it today, and likely could have, but in a moment of realization, I am not an ace downhiller, I am, at best, competent. So I hopped off the bike walked the crazy corner and jumped over the creek and back onto the bike. Then I saw Aid 4

Aid 4 was a great sight. I still have no idea how long it is to the end of the race, but I knew after this there was more downhill than climbing. I talked with the guys at the Aid station and joked for a minute and had three guys just ride threw the Aid Station without stopping. It was at this point I knew (and I am normally this person) I had victims to pass, I had rabbits to chase and I was positive I could and would catch them. So off I went.

So I picked them off one at a time up the next climb, and then started picking off riders on the slightly (for VA) rocky descents to the short climbs that marks the end of the race. This continued until I realized I was actually on the final descent to the finish. I just let the brakes go and figured I would either catch a few more guys or flat and loose all the places I had gained. As luck would have it I caught three guys for real, actually passing them on the descent and one who was fixing his tire.

The fellow sitting on the table flatted.

I rode with him on and off all day and felt bad for him, but such is riding. So I crossed the line in five minutes more time that last year. I blame the added time on the really bad start, and the fact it wasn’t worse on the really good last 25 miles. Next year? Maybe.

PS: I won the slightly larger than normal folks race. What did I win? The knowledge that among the bigger folks I am not the slowest. The winner beat me by two hours.

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The first half

So just a bit about the Iron Mountain 100K

July 20, 2011 by scarkinsmel

Starting out, I and the people behind me still hopeful for a good race

Last year I had a much better early day and much worse later and this year it was much the opposite. As the race began I felt as if my heart, legs and lungs were all arguing with each other. While my legs felt a bit heavy and just a bit weak the lungs felt really good, and the heart, that thing was just racing from the second I woke up. My heart just didn’t seem to want to get down to a resting rate instead it seemed to racing constantly, and that made for some really hard riding.

After the warmup out to the trail we hit the first climb…. It was more a walk for a mile for me and most of the others at the race, but a few guys insisted of riding and falling over and causing a whole bunch of stop and go walking, which is almost as bad as stop and go traffic. Anyway we get to the top of the hill and I remember this really sketchy descent, but as it had rained the day before, it turned out to be a very fast and very fun descent, until I came up behind a rider who just wasn’t going as fast as I felt I could have. Now I could have been all angry and forced my way by, but we had a long race to go. I just wish everybody had been on the same page about the long race still coming up. Anyway, we all safely got to the bottom then this came up…..

A road

I drafted these guys for a few minutes and then my heart just seemed to start beating at 220 beats per minute, so I had to pull back and slow down just a bit, which was not cool. After a few minutes I turned onto a trail and started to climb. By this time my heart and legs just felt really bad and me riding just turned into me walking and wondering what was wrong. I still don’t know, but at this time in the race I wanted to quit. I told myself at Aid 2 I would quit if my legs didn’t start to feel better and on I trudged.

It was easy, last year!

So I arrived at Aid 2 and grab a couple of bottles ate a whole bag of Twizzlers and took off and was sure that by Aid 3 I would stop if I didn’t start to feel better. So tomorrow I will continue with the saga of my mid pack finish.

My terrible leg


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300km Road, Training for the summer:

Last weekend we decided very spontaneous to do the 300km Road Run at Its always at the first weekend in july and therefore a perfect fitness test for the bike marathon season, which starts shortly after. We were a good team of 4, whith two stronger leaders and two less stronger followers. Our aim was to do it again (last time 2009)  in around 12.5 hours with 4 breaks of 15min each.  Finally we made it exactly in 12.5 hours while needing 5 breaks…because 30min after start my front tube exploded with a loud boom and I had to replace the tube. Anyway, it worked but I had a lower and unknown pressure in the front tire for the rest of the day.

Otherwise all worked perfectly nice, weather was ideal and not to hot. After about 170km we had a rather important second break, since slowly my bottom started to hurt (even if the nice carbon saddle is called Komvor…) and my legs and feet ankles felt less good too.  After the break however the body worked fine again and we were heading with speed to the next two shorter stops.

Well, in the end all worked perfectly good, we kept our steady pace at around 26-28 km/h nonstop and besides one of us having  stomach troubles we were fine and good until the finish. A week later my bottom is good again and the marathon season can come. Jiha!! 🙂

Picture: Me and the team of 4. Our powerhorses and windshades are to the  left and right. Man, they have a pressure on the pedal….

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Rothaus Bike Marathon

So, there is still a race report due: Petra (she rides a 26er, nobody’s perfect) and me participated in the Rothaus Bike Marathon in Singen, Baden-Württemberg, close to Lake Konstanz, on the first weekend of July.

We did the 3-hours-drive from Munich on Saturday evening. When we had reached Singen we booked into a youth hostel (where already a school class of maybe 15 year olds had checked in), failed to get our number plates (they closed the counter at 6 and we reached it at 6:05), discovered that Singen is probably not the most beautiful city of Germany and finally found an acceptable looking Italian restaurant. The rest of the evening was fun, however I had a bad conscience when we finally went to sleep: A huge Pizza Gorgonzola, a couple of beers, a big black coffee and way too much Ice-cream is probably not the best way to spend the evening before a race.

Nevertheless I felt physically good and mentally confident when the race-day began at six in the morning (maybe because our 15-year-old friends were surprisingly absent through the night). We picked up our number plates, assembled the bikes, had a long breakfast and went down to the start. I had signed up for the long distance (75 km, 1.550 metres of climbing) and Petra was lining up for the middle distance (50 km, 1.000 metres of climbing). I was pretty sure that the big problem of the day would be the time limit: For the long track we had to ride first the middle track completely and then again just the first half of the middle track. If somebody would be lapped by the leader (which was going to be German Pro Tim Böhme) before starting his second lap (the half one) he was going to be taken out of the race. In my opinion that was an unfair rule, because we didn’t know how fast we had to go during the first lap. And needless to say: I was the only Singlespeeder. So, everything ready for a laid back Sunday.

The race began and the dry and dusty course through the volcanic landscape of the Hegau region turned out to be a constant up and down of approximately 100 metres of climbing followed by 100 metres of descent followed by 100 metres of climbing and so on. There were quite a lot of grass-passages in it and also some kilometres of quite good singletracks. In combination with a total lack of shadow on almost the whole course it was quite challenging.

The atmosphere was good and many people encouraged this strange freak on a singlespeed bike. Besides the course many spectators had lined up and were shouting us up the hills. At one point a rather fast looking licence guy who was racing the middle course slowed down, rode beside me and said: “Finally a 29er! And a singlespeeder! You’re already my personal hero of the day.” I was giving my usual “thanks-but-it’s-not-as-tough-as-it-looks-answer” and he asked again: “You ride the middle track I assume?” When I answered that I was doing the long course he knew nothing more to say. I know, telling this story is probably showing off, but it just felt so good to be encouraged like that!

After aid station one I was really riding at the limit. Constantly I was turning my head around to see if the leading motorcycle that was riding in front of Böhme was showing up behind me. At aid station two Böhme still hadn’t reached me. When I hit Singen again, I knew I had done it. At the begin of my second lap I was tired, but sure to finish. A couple of years ago I would have probably ridden myself into the ground from this point on. But obviously I am capable to learn at least the basic stuff. So, I calmed down and just relaxed for around 12k. After the last aid I tried to push myself again, but it was quite hard now. Most of the time I was riding totally alone and at the steepest climb of the race I had to get of the bike and walk. Thanks to some gels I reached the finish line with a race time of 4 hours and 2 minutes. I was afraid to be pretty much at the end of the field, but I was surprised when I looked at the results: Place 112 in total of 155.

Right after finish I felt really destroyed. But after I had met Petra (she also had a good race) we ate a Bratwurst, had a cold shower and slowly I started to feel normal again and capable of driving back to Munich. All in all a really fun-weekend.

And not to forget: It was the first race for our new team kit – many thanks go to Biciclista in Italy for providing me with the coolest uniform ever!

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