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Ötztaler 2012

schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644

Is anybody out in BR-land doing this next Sunday?

My training has gone well, the long range weather forecast is looking favourable (î.e. it won't be 35°C + that we're experiencing at the moment) and I can't wait.



  • schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644
    edited August 2012
    Well, what an amazing event.

    After 4 weeks of glorious weather, it had to break, and it did on Saturday night. At the riders briefing the night before, in amongst the presentations from the Police to expect oncoming traffic and to obey road regulations and the race director highlighting the danger points there was the forecast for Sunday. A wet start, a showery day, 4°C at the highest point (2500m) and a small chance of snow!

    238 km, 5500 metres of climbing, Kühtai, Brennerpass, Jaufenpass and Timmelsjoch were all ahead as I lined up with 3,999* others at 6.30 ready for a 6.45 start. The gun went and we rolled down to the start crossing the line at around 6.55. It was dry but the road was damp.

    A downhill start for 32 km meant it was fast. My average speed was around 45 before we reached Ötz and the first climb to the up to Kühtai. All along the valley, despite the early start on a Sunday morning, the locals were out with cow bells, rattles and horns, cheering us on. Riders jockeying for position made for a nervous start. I didn’t see any accidents but must have seen half a dozen people with flats. Those riding tubs looking forlorn as they waited for the Mavic service vehicles to follow up behind the field. Despite the Police stressing that normal rules of the road must be followed, the whole width road could be used, traffic islands were marshalled by firemen and both sides of roundabouts were used.

    The Kühtai went well for me, even on the 18% section. My legs felt good all the way. At the top, having just climbed 1200m, I was surprised that I’d only drunk ½ a bidon of isotonic drink in 2 hours since the start. Way too little! An average speed on the climb of 12.45 km/h meant I was still on schedule for sub 10 hours. The feed stop consisted of cake, gels, müesli bars, bananas, apples, sandwiches, water, isotonic drink, soup and probably more. Plenty of everything, although the Germans seemed to be a little to keen to get to the front of the queues! I took what I wanted and after donning my gillet and pulling up my arm warmers, I was off again. The descent was pretty uneventful. Only a couple of cows had strayed onto the road and plenty of warnings were shouted. I almost came a cropper on a cattle grid at 70 km/h though but I corrected the wobble and took a few deep breaths!

    The ride to Innsbruck was fast. Moving across from group to group, taking shelter from the wind as we could. The first shower struck. Only short, but enough to soak the road and my socks! This was the only section where there was public traffic in the opposite direction but the Police and marshals meant that all junctions and roundabouts were clear.

    Next up was the Brennerpass. Long and not too steep but climbing 697m. I really enjoyed this section. The roads were getting clearer as the riders were stretching out across the road. I average 28.933 km/h over the 38.2 km from Innsbruck to the top of the Brennerpass.

    The Brennerpass feedstation was the start of the Red Bull! The race was partly sponsored by them and it was everywhere. Straight up or watered down. I filled one bidon with watered down Red Bull and topped up another bidon which was half full of isotonic drink with water. More bananas and muesli bars from a huge selection of food and the next, short descent started and was over so quick I don’t really have a great deal of recollection of it.

    The Jaufenpass was next up. I was feeling great. 1130m of climbing over 21.6 km at an average of 15.18 km/h. It was getting warmer with the odd ray of sun and patch of blue sky. The feed station was before the top. Loaded up with more water and 6 h 15 mins after starting I was at the top and I knew that as long as I didn’t bonk or have a mechanical problem, sub 10 hours was definitely on!

    The descent to St. Leonhard was technical and as we crossed the Italian border, the road surface became markedly worse. Cracks in the tarmac, tar banding and half finished roadworks combined with the next showers of rain made for an ‘interesting’ and nervous descent, especially when I looked behind and saw about a dozen or more riders all following my line. I only cocked up my line through one curve though and recovered quite well if I do say so myself ;) !

    Then the big one. Timmelsjoch. 1759 m over 31.4 km. 2 hours 27 mins, 12.76 km/h including two more feed station (although I skipped the last one). Drizzle was falling as we climbed, the wind picked up meaning headwind followed by tailwind as we climbed the hairpins to the top. It was cold, cramps were starting in my left leg and still 800m of climbing. I ate 3 gells on the climb and some salted bread which helped with the cramp. I reached the summit with a time of 9h 11 mins and I now had just 49 minutes to get back to Sölden.

    Unfortunately the descent is broken by a 150-200 m climb back up to the toll booths (nothing to pay!) and then the real dash to the finish starts! The flash of the speed trap on the way down pierced the mist in the distance. There was a strong headwind but I sprinted, tucked and went for it! I have no idea what my exact speed was but it was still well over 70 km/h. The cold, early evening temperatures, the high speed descent, the strong head wind, damp clothes all drawing the heat out of my body but the village of Sölden was in sight. Just press on!

    Arriving back in Sölden, the crowds were amazing. Hundreds of people were lining the streets all cheering you on. Pushing hard on the pedals…it hurts but the crowds get you through it. The flamme rouge, 1000 m to go. Start to sprint, 500 m, 250 m, the final right hander, sit up and enjoy the final 50 m. My friend and I shake hands as we cross the line together, exactly how we’d started exactly 9 hours 51 minutes and 19.6 seconds earlier – sub 10 hours.

    Red Bull, hot fruit punch, woollen blankets, more Red Bull, sandwiches, cake and a wife with a jacket, beanie and a kiss. I was shattered, I was cold, I was aching but I’d done it.

    I’ve done the Alpen Challenge in 2008 (220 km, 4000 m) and La Marmotte in 2009. This was by far the best rider experience. The whole event was professionally organised, there was plenty of food, plenty of water and other drinks and more Red Bull than you could ever wish to drink both on the course and at the end. The police, fire, ambulance, red cross and civil guard and marshals made for a safe and fun ride. The locals in every village out to cheer you on making you push yourself harder and show that you ‘deserve’ their encouragement.

    There was the odd instance of poor riding (one Austrian rider learnt a whole set of new English words and duly apologised) but on the whole the standard was very good with plenty of warnings for obstructions. It was a very quiet ride, not much chatter going on but lots of people willing to do the work on the front and I didn’t mind doing my turn to help close gaps.

    The only downside to this is that there are only 4,000 start places allocated and 19,000 applied this year!

    My advice…apply and keep your fingers crossed. Keep applying until you get that start number!

  • schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644
    edited August 2012
    'World's Biggest Cycling Jersey' made up from finisher jerseys from previous years


    The Ingredients for your dream: 1,640 helping hands, 20,110 bread rolls, 8,900 pieces of cake, 11,400 bananas, 50,000 litres of drinks, 16,000 müesli bars!!


    The Race Director's BMW M6


    The 'End of Race' Car


    Number pinned on and transponder attached...


    Just in case I forgot how far and how high...


    06:45 start...


    Last riders coming in 13.5 hours later!


    and from Strava
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    Chapeau! Thanks for the post a good read.

    Makes my 125km at the Gruyere cycle tour look like a Sunday morning club run (which to be honest it was).

    I occasionaly get emails inviting application (Datasport), but have never applied yet, I'm looking for a challenge for next year so maybe I should try my luck. Although is it 238 miles or km? The longest event I've ever riden was 214 km through the Vosges.
  • schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644
    Your welcome! It was a bit of a brain dump so I hope it makes sense!

    It is 238 km, original post has been corrected.

    The Gruyere was my plan if I didn't get a place in the Ötztaler, maybe next year. How was the weather and the route?
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    Gruyere was a bit odd this year. Not only under new management, but only the climbs were timed. The "race" was neutralised for at least 30 minutes untill we crossed a section of road with no tarmac, just hardcore, I saw several people with flats, and others with Zipp wheels wishing they were walking. There were also loads of roadworks and traffic lights on the descent into Bulle and the marshals on motor bikes were physically blocking the road to stop people jumping the lights (as if anyone would). I wanted a good time for the whole route, so tried going tempo the whole way around and didn't stop at the feed stations at the top of the climbs. Got some pretty poor times on the climbs, but think I came in about 30 seconds behind the lead group at the end. A bunch of young guys who blitzed me on the climbs, but didn't start working on the descents or flats until the last 20km. Great fun trying to catch them on the descents. If its the same next year I'll go for the Strava approach to riding and go for it on the climbs and pootle between them. Weather turned out nice in the end. I was about 15 minutes down on my best time, but given the traffic lights and extra long neutral zone I'm not too disapointed.
  • schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644
    Hmmm, I might skip it then. :(

    Good time by you though, I'd be pleased with it anyway!
  • galatzogalatzo Posts: 1,295
    Entered the Radmarathon in 2010 and as you say it's an amazingly well organised event.
    I had to pack in half way up the Timmlesjoch at Gasthof Schonau feedstation, 11 hours in and in bits !
    Didn't get a place this year in my bid to exorcise the demons but the british summer wouldn't have helped with training.
    In 2010 I think about 10000 applied for places - cycling just going mad at the moment.

    And your bike looks like it's part of the bench in one of your pics !

    25th August 2013 12hrs 37mins 52.3 seconds 238km 5500mtrs FYRM Never again.
  • schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644
    They used to say that if you applied three years in a row and you were unsuccesful on the first two years then you were guaranteed a place in the 3rd year but that seems to have been removed from the website but when it is oversubscribed by 5 times then it's impossible to offer a guarantee any more. I wouldn't have thought they'd increase the numbers though as although Sölden has enough rooms/beds to cope, the Kühtai would have been jammed for the first few km!
  • Ausgezeichnet! Great write up. Ive always wanted to do this ride but have been put off by how blinking difficult it looks. I'm sure it'd be really well run and a chance to ride some new roads.
    When a cyclist has a disagreement with a car; it's not who's right, it's who's left.
  • rc856rc856 Posts: 1,139
    Nice write up :D
    My first sportive this year was the Nove Colli. 200km with 3800m of climbing over 9 hills.
    Superbly marshalled with closed roads for the first 90km.

    Would recommend it.
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