Signed, sealed and delivered. I have a guaranteed starting place in the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon 2021. Earlier than ever...
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We are not the only ones preparing intensively for the #ÖtztalerRadmarathon2021 but you are as well already in the middle of preparation programs.
Should I register at all? Do I really have enough time for training, job & family? In the course of the next 40 weeks we will take a closer look at the world of thoughts of an Ötztaler participant! #ÖRMDIARY
Signed, sealed and delivered. I have a guaranteed starting place in the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon 2021. Earlier than ever. The hotel is already booked. And it's only October. It will be a long thrill of anticipation. Nevertheless, I won't get bored until next 29 August. In any case, this year's "see you next year" is not a hope but a certainty. So let's take something positive out of the whole thing. Until next year. And everything you can experience at the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. Myriad discussions are more than just probable: about training, weight and nutrition, the envy and pride when it comes to the latest racing bike models and components, the last-minute purchases because the weather changes on site, all the conversations about the weather until shortly before the start, the many new and familiar faces, a visit to the 007 Elements James Bond adventure world, the ride on Gaislachkogl mountain gondola and the breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view comprising the glacier world, the flair and the atmosphere in and around Sölden, the training units up to Timmelsjoch or Vent, the Alpine region's highest asphalt road leading up to over 2800 meters, the nerve-wracking tenseness before the upcoming 227 km and 5500 altitude meters. Well. Until next year.
I don't even ask myself if it makes sense. That would complicate matters even more. Because what's the point of starting everything all over again? And does it really make sense to subordinate life to the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon once again? For the past 39 weeks I've been writing down all of my thoughts on it. I recorded and wrote down everything that crossed my mind. I gave an insight into my emotional world. Documented my inner conflict between hope and fear. In 2021 there will be a new chance for me and many thousands of others. If I asked myself the question of the meaning, I would have to owe myself the answer. What exactly would change? Seriously. From now on I have to turn it over in my mind again and again. In the end, nothing would change. Because that's my life. Reasonable or not. The Ötztaler Cycle Marathon can and must be a regular part of this life. A meaningful and orderly life. With this one and only goal in mind. Enjoying the last few meters through Sölden to the full and being a silent hero for a brief moment. Only those who finish in Sölden can understand it and will never ask themselves if it makes sense.
The first snowflakes have already fallen on the glacier slopes high above Sölden. Now it is the turn of "the others". Now Ötztal belongs to them. We have already made heroic history for this year. Hundreds, no thousands. Spread all over the world. Everyone for himself and with himself. We have longed for this one day, staged it and lived it intensely. We let others participate in the race through social media channels. Spectators along the route were replaced by virtual fans and friends. Compensating both applause and cheers with likes and kudos. My very personal heroic story was an infinite 257 km long and a record-breaking 5641 meters high. A truly huge and "fat" Ötzi in the middle of the hilly Bucklige Welt region. I had to climb 17 hills. Great challenge. Uphill and down dale, left and right, for hours. And yet it wasn't the same. A real Ötztaler Cycle Marathon is different. Cannot be copied. Cannot be replaced. However, my replacement Ötztaler was a strong mental and physical performance, but I'm sad and emotionally hurt. It feels like there was nothing except a slightly longer bicycle ride. No Alpine passes such as Kühtai, Brenner, Jaufen or even Timmelsjoch. Is it just me who feels this way?
My father always said: "Recognizing a problem is already solving half the problem." Right. But my father wasn't a road racing cyclist. So he couldn't know that weak points and problem analysis are a bit more complex for us road cyclists. Because we don't make mistakes. Say no more. Not in the preparation period. It's been the same for years. Not in the race. We have always been doing the same for years. At full speed right from start. Not even in nutrition. It has been the same for years. Unhealthy and unbalanced. So if you don't make mistakes like me, you don't need to look for mistakes. Therefore the athlete, again me, is always looking for excuses. There are many. Old and new ones. Plausible and completely far-fetched ones. I love the latter. I am a creative person. My "next year it will be better" seems almost even more unbelievable than the "never again". Because next year it will not be better. For whatever reason. Next year I will not do what I should (or wanted to) have done this year, but I will do exactly what I did this year (and the years before). Namely nothing. Because I don't make mistakes. Instead, I'm looking for excuses.
Surely never again? I've thought and said that so many times. But I never did it. Certainly never again is always an emotional statement. Mostly you say it without thinking. It quickly slips out of your mouth at the end of an exhausting day over four passes. Accidentally. In affect. In my case it was often disappointment. But also anger when my goal has once again not been achieved. Or even was exceeded. It happened too. In the first case I quarreled with myself. In the second case I didn't want to feel the strain anymore. Certainly never again actually always means "until next year". It has to be said. Surely never again Ötztaler Cycle Marathon? How does that work. It would be like life without Christmas. To be honest, I don't know what else I would do all year. Fortunately, I already have my guaranteed starting place for 2021. So we don't have to discuss the "certainly never again". We'll talk about that next year so that we can meet again in 2022.
I have no idea how big pride can get. Is there probably a physiological limit? I'm just saying. Before your chest might burst or break apart. I've never heard of such a case. Why do I want to know that? No matter if we talk about the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon in the original or in the social version: pedaling 227 kilometers in a row takes your personal satisfaction to a higher level and makes your chest swell with pride. True inner grandeur is immense. Almost infinite. And honestly - it is perfectly justified to be proud of yourself after such a great sporty achievement. That feeling will diminish over time. Certainly. But let's enjoy it while it burns inside. It feels so good. It soothes your soul and massages your tired legs. 2020 was and still is a blasted year. So I'm all the more looking forward to 2021. At least it was no waste of time. The many thousands of training kilometers are the basis for the new goal. The dream of the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon and the desire for a real finisher jersey. One of the last of its kind. From now on we start from the very beginning again.
If it says "Finisher", there has to be a finisher inside. That's the real finisher spirit. Because only who crosses the finish line is a true finisher. It is precisely for this simple and plausible reason that the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon finisher jersey promises a quite different feeling. I experience that every time. There's more to this finisher jersey than just an entry fee. Inside lives a whole day full of unique emotions. This very special jersey gives you so much in return at the end of the day. It stands for all sufferings, hopes, lows and highs while conquering the four mountain passes. This piece of lycra is the fulfillment of your dream and at the same time a return to reality. This jersey is the end of all speculations. It brings peace and binds together what seemed to break apart weeks and months before during intensive preparation and training units. A truly unique reward followed immediately by the first hug of your loved ones in the finish area. Even before the shower irretrievably washes away the signs of your personal battle and the wild ride over the four Alpine passes. The pain goes away, the finisher jersey will remain yours.
The very last stress-free weekend is over. It's the racing weekend. The countdown is already on and the maximum heart rate will be reached soon. What a fabulous feeling. Full attention to the weather forecast now. I know that a lot can happen in the mountains and that it sometimes happens quickly as the weather in Ötztal follows its own laws anyway. But studying the weather forecasts coupled with speculations, conspiracies and discussions are part of the procedure for the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon every year. Those who were there in 2003 and 2013 can tell you a thing or two about it, provided that he or she is already thawed and dry. It will never be worse. Hopefully. As a candidate for the Ötztaler Finisher jersey, you must also be able to read weather maps and weather data. Correctly. You have to analyze air currents and calculate air pressure. Hectopascal should be a well-known term. As an Ötzi candidate you have to make your own weather report without asking anyone else. With almost 4000 starters you can expect almost 4000 weather forecasts. Unfortunately, nobody knows what the weather will actually be like. But who cares? It is a race weekend and everyone is talking about the weather anyway.
On 30 August, it should have been 227 km. Until 30 August, there will also be 227 km. Of course, I will not miss the opportunity to take part in the Ötztaler SocialCycle Marathon. I have already registered. A worthy alternative program for the "real" Ötztaler Cycle Marathon, unfortunately canceled in 2020. The tension and the unattainable top form must somehow be implemented and gloriously staged. So this year I'll be just an Ötztaler SocialCycle Marathon finisher. Who cares. Ötzi remains Ötzi. I still have to think about the altitude meters. Because I don't have to conquer them. Additionally, there is no Kühtai, no Brenner, no Jaufen pass and no Timmelsjoch on my doorstep. Too bad. Wait a moment. Should I quickly treat myself to a weekend in Sölden and complete the SocialCycle Marathon on the original route? I deserve it. For sure. And as everything would be for a good cause nobody would protest against it: Sölden I'm coming!
Now it's getting serious and I can already feel the tension. My head has long been in Sölden. Elevated legs. The rest of my stress-filled everyday life. It's time for the last important preparations. Not by chance. It's essential to keep an eye on everything. On myself and all the others. Caution is the mother of the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon, staying healthy is a top priority. No more experiments please. Nutrition, training, material. It is as it is and should remain that way. It's best to ignore the rest of the world and isolate yourself. Danger is always everywhere. Watch out and watch out again. Maybe a last-minute diet. 3 kilograms in 3 weeks are possible according to the leisure time magazine. Or maybe a turbo FTP unit? Or a new handlebar tape, a new chain, a new set of pinions, new tires, a new rim tape or even new chain rings? Some defects could hide everywhere. Problems that I don't want to have and that I can avoid. A steady, perfect and - above all - calm and stress-free preparation without obstacles is known to be half of the coveted Finisher jersey.
It won't be the last doubts that bother me. It's the bad conscience that accompanies me right from start like a parasite, feeding these doubts anew every day. To put it plainly: I still have too many kilos on my ribs, my performance graph is still not increasing exponentially but has been flattening for weeks, and my racing bike is still far from ideal weight. The worst preconditions. Also when it comes to the Ötztaler SocialCycle Marathon. Where's my iron will and where's my mental strength and virtuous consequence? It can't be that hard! I had time for entire weeks, or even months, and everything was already planned meticulously. Crises in relationship included. Not planned at all, just pre-programmed. My race, my summer - that was the deal. I have to do this, I have to do that but now I have nothing. Except for the doubts. The Ötztaler Cycle Marathon is and will remain my dream - no matter if real or social. And it seems to burst. Like a balloon. The journey is its own reward, but the reward is quite far away. I wish someone could understand me.
Ask me about the lottery numbers. Guessing this is more likely than hitting the jackpot when choosing the right cycle clothing. The weather is unpredictable. The weather in and around Sölden on a distance of 227 km is even more unpredictable. In 2003 and 2013 there was the apocalyptic end of the world. The heat battle of the century took place in 2015. Before, in between and after, it was never normal. Wearing too much or too little is the order of the day. The weather lottery only knows these two draws. No guarantee. Guarantee of sunshine, there is no pure sunshine. Maybe yes. But then it's only Saturday or already Monday. A clothes bag deposit has been available for a few years now. Kühtai, Brenner, Jaufen Pass and Timmelsjoch. But only in one spot. One should be clairvoyant. I already said it. Ask me about the lottery numbers. Is it better to freeze or carry unnecessary ballast of spare clothing? In order to be prepared for all cases, you would need the entire wardrobe. But then I would ask myself the same question again: Which is the right cycle clothing?
No matter how big the lifebuoy is. It's too small. This eliminates the need for any boring discussion about the right transmission at the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. Nowadays you have a myriad of options. Each of them is not enough. The desire for an easier gear accompanies you on the entire 227 km. In the past it was very different. The former Ötztaler heroes were still on the go with their hero cranks. Me included. 53/39 and 11/23 cranksets. Yes. Those were the days. Hard times. In some passages I had to and wanted to push the bicycle. Up towards Kühtai. When there still was no gallery behind Ochsengarten and the steepest section wanted to tear my kneecap and meniscus out of the anchorage. The right transmission is a pious wish at the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. A mirage. An unfulfilled childhood dream. Why? Why is everything always different at the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon? What usually happens to be loosely fuzzy, is now bucking and stalling. And next to you they pedal as if they were going downhill. They are still there, the real heroes of the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. With or without a perfect transmission.
Almost there. But only almost. The last hurdle towards the coveted finisher jersey is also the highest one. And the longest. Timmelsjoch Pass. Only 29 kilometers and almost 1800 altitude meters separate me from fulfilling my dream. At the highest point of the legendary Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. A long day behind me and a lot of hard work. Pumped full of experiences. Defeat and victory at the same time. At an altitude of over 2500 meters I would be more than just ready for the final downhill section to Sölden. I would be tired and exhausted for the short but miserably long last climb towards the road toll station in Hochgurgl. And I would be in the mood for a tearful ride through the main village road into the finish area. Almost there. Now just survive. Mobilize the last energies. Get up, sit, get up. Staying in the saddle at all cost. The road carved into the rocks won't dampen my courage. I can't fail. And I won't fail. The Ötztaler Cycle Marathon has had a long foreplay so far. Now the coronation is waiting.
The mountain of fate par excellence. Jaufen Pass separates the wheat from the chaff. And the finisher from the broom car. Heroic deeds are decided here. Anyone who is late will be punished by race director 3. He will rigorously carry out the deadline time without fear and mercilessness. Rien ne va plus. No more bets, please! No ifs and buts. This can be the end. Basta. Finito. If you don't reach the pass in time, you can comfortably take the bus to Sölden. Separated from the beloved bicycle. The racing bike travels in the 2nd class. 15.5 kilometers up to 2090 meters. 1130 altitude meters with an incline of up to 12%. A Sunday afternoon can also be spent in a much more relaxed way. Jaufen Pass is perfect for sweetening the day. Or messing up. The access at Gasteig is cruel and evil. The first self-doubts come up in Kalch. The rest is autopilot. Where there is a will, there may be also rhythmical pedaling. Only when the trees give way and the Alpine meadows enter your field of vision, a spark of hope could end the rigor of death. The Ötztaler Cycle Marathon comprises four mountains. Jaufen Pass really takes it out of you.
As an Ötzi candidate you don't need to be afraid of heights on the border to Italy. In comparison to the previous and the rest of the program, Brenner Pass is a small piece of cake. At the same altitude as Sölden. From the start to Brenner Pass it is a measly 2 meters of altitude difference. If it weren't for the Kühtai in-between. Fortunately, at the top of Brenner Pass you are still far below the tree line and in case there are strong southern winds you can already smell the scent of the south. If suddenly the Carabinieri regulate the traffic and guide the mass of racing cyclists towards Sterzing, then we are barely halfway through. Time for lunch. Energy to go along the large parking area at the end of the village. But don't think it's over here. Half of the race course doesn't make a finisher jersey yet. The true suffering starts now. It can be over quickly if you are too fast on the road. Brenner Pass is easily underestimated. The speedier you cycle up towards the pass, the slower you will be afterwards. Brenner Pass always takes revenge and always makes you tired. Brenner is a low-altitude pass. But it will hurt a lot. Not immediately. But on Jaufen Pass at the latest.
Just to warm up. Especially after the quite fresh ride from Sölden to Oetz. Kühtai saddleback. A special pick-me-up. 18.5 uphill kilometers towards 2020 meters above sea level. 1200 altitude meters soaked in lactate. In nice weather, including a fantastic sunrise after the height of Ochsengarten. You know early in the race if it can be a good day or not. If it's difficult here, it's not going to be easier. If it's easy here, it can still become very difficult. Inconspicuous and peaceful. Kühtai saddle is just the opposite. Surrounded by steaming and gasping cyclists, your torture is incomparable on your way uphill. In spite of all good resolutions, certainly far too fast. Group dynamics are fairly tricky. But it works. Still. You get carried away. The helicopter circles over the snow-capped summits. Myriad spectators cheer on you. Tour de France feeling with cowpat backdrop. The last ramp pushes the sweat out of your pores and tears out of your eyes. Everything moves in slow motion. You are a hero for one moment. But the summer's longest cycling day is still ahead. Kühtai saddle is lovely and cruel at the same time. Those who conquer it will be rewarded with a fabulous long downhill ride. Then everything starts again at Brenner pass. Kühtai, I hate and love you. That's why I may be conquering you also in 2020. At the Ötztaler SocialCycle Marathon.
And once again I have to conjure up my mathematical gift. I ask myself who still has an overview. In 2020, there would have been the 40th edition of the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon in 39 years. In 1996 there were two "Ötzis" in only one year. The 2020 edition is canceled now. OK. Job done. So we will see the 40th edition in 2021. And on top of that, the 40th anniversary. So 40 + 40 = 2021. 40th edition and 40 years Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. Easy calculation, right? It just happened. But you don't necessarily have to understand it. But you should understand how the starting place transfer is organized. Corona exception included. Those who have a confirmed starting place for 2020 and paid the entry fee can start in 2021. Easy. That's the first starting number transfer. Those who have not paid will lose their starting place. Logical. But who will get it? Additional drawing or contingent for 2021? And what about those who paid and don't want to start in 2021? Either they get their money back (a fair act of the organizer) or they can also pass on their 2021 starting number. But when and how? It's not that I want to pass on my starting place. No. No way. I just want clear circumstances. In case there are any questions. Any questions? By the way: Already registered for the Ötztaler SocialCycle Marathon?
Wait a minute. No Ötztaler Cycle Marathon 2020 but now I can still ride 227 km? That's really awesome. The "Ötzi" fever reaches at least 42° Celsius while i can feel adrenaline in every fiber of my muscles. Ötztaler SocialCycle Marathon - of course I'll take part. The magical number of 227 km is now haunting my head again. And what's best, it's for a good cause. My fitness and my preparation for 2021. And at the same time, I can also help. Every kilometer will help and I would like to help 227 times. Suddenly getting up makes sense again. The whole torture has one good reason. The discussions at home have a good new argument. 227 km. On one, two or three days - it doesn't matter at all. It's best to do all on the same day. Something is better than nothing. Plus a voluntary donation. For people in need. This is one for the books, unique in my life. In mid-June I feel like at Christmas. Ötztaler SocialCycle Marathon - you saved my summer and gave a meaning to my life again.
Leaving Sölden in the early morning and returning to Sölden only in the late afternoon or early evening. Anyone who tells me that the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon is that easy has probably never had to do with the greatly feared time limits at the checkpoints defined by the official authorities. Brenner pass, Jaufen pass, St. Leonhard, Moos, Schönau and Timmelsjoch pass. Those who are already late here are out of the race quite early and have to return to Sölden by broom car. Bye-bye finisher jersey. Nothing unexpected should happen on the marathon course with six time limit points. No matter how strong your legs are. The fixed time limits show no mercy. Just like the guys in the car of racing director 3. Rien ne va plus - no more bets! Their word is law. A tough judgment if you have already passed Jaufen pass. There is no one to protect me. Except for myself. I just have to be fast and strong enough. Then I'm ahead of time. Once at the finish line, I can tell myself how "easy" the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon is. Having left Sölden in the early morning and returning to Sölden in the late afternoon or early evening.
The cyclist is an intelligent human being. An environmentally-conscious individual. A person with ideals and values. At least that's how I see myself. But the cyclist is also a great sinner. A piglet. Expressed politically incorrect: a sow. Honestly. That's really not necessary. Aren't we role models? Of course we are. So why carelessly scatter rubbish amid nature? Just like at the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon in the last years. Outside the refreshment stations there were tons of empty - and also full - gel packets lying around. What is not allowed at professional races should be valid also here. Respect and mindfulness towards our environment. Each jersey has 3 pockets. Everything that has to do with garbage fits into one of them. Otherwise just put it under the jersey and drag it along for a few kilometers. Scenes like those along the four pass roads of the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon are beneath of each cyclist's behavior. Not even the organization's sanctions prevent some from disposing of their garbage in this way. Why do I keep that in my mind? Because it's a second-hand shame!
Flat is boring. Mountainous is much more exciting. When the snow melts, the mountain training units finally begin. I've been waiting for a long time. Finally mountains and not repeated flat hill. Now the many pass roads are in high demand again. Either the original locations or the many other highlights that our regions have to offer. The party begins at 1000 altitude meters in a row. Real fun starts where the air is getting thin. The long-awaited training effect. VAM, VAM, vamos. Turns and hairpin bends in abundance until I feel dizzy. Sweating along the snow walls and splashing into the melt water. This is road cycling as I love it. The open jersey flutters in the wind. The airstream cools and I feel like a pro in the Tour de France on my way to the stage finish at the top of the pass. Wonderful how fast you could cycle uphill. A perfectly balanced pace, high frequency, your gaze already directed towards the next serpentine. Finally mountains again. How I missed them.
How much can a person eat? And how much do you have to eat? On your way from Sölden to Sölden. But also before that. From now on until 29 August 2021. How much can a person eat if this person is a road racing cyclist and has to master 227 km and 5500 altitude meters? Good question! I would say a lot or much more than a lot. Talking in numbers, depending on the physical condition, it can be some 7000 to 9000 kcal. Maybe even more. It also depends on the pace. Enjoy your meal. How and when should I eat all that? And digest, too. Fairly exhausting. Not just speeding down. 5 tasty and well-stocked refreshment stations are on the menu. Kühtai at 49 km, Brenner at 121.5 km, Jaufenpass at 153 km, Schönau at 191.5 km, Seeberalm at 191 km and then Freizeit Arena in the finish area. A kind of full board. All-round service at its finest. Eating and drinking are very important at the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. Even before and after the race at Freizeit Arena. The scrambled pancake with apple pure is a true delight for the palate. Deluxe calorie party. Will I be racing to be able to eat, or will I be eating to be able to cycle?
The countdown has started. Cancellation 2020 makes everything new. Which doesn't make things easier, but longer. The fascination of the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon remains just the same. A virus changes the whole world, but not my passion. On the contrary. I want. I must. I will. 5500 altitude meters are repeatedly my big goal. My four beloved and at the same time hated Alpine passes. They describe my life so well. It is a permanent up and down. A lot of suffering and even more enjoyment nicely strung together. Every single meter of altitude is an important part of the entire adventure. A fraction compared to the whole. Nevertheless, each part is equally important. From the first to the last section. Every painstakingly climbed altitude meter is decisive for the entire race. Every meter of altitude makes a judgment about the next and shows you whether and how you can continue. The 5500 altitude meters of the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon are my favorite roller coaster. So stay healthy and lose weight. We'll see us in 2021.
29 August 2021. It's still a few weeks until then. It looks like a pretty long preparation phase. But I will be there. I have a starting place. It's all mine. Renounce? Certainly not. My hotel has already been changed. I have not yet spoken to my family, but I fully trust in the fact that the next 16 months will be all about the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. It's not my fault. Perhaps I would have participated for the last time this year. At least I promised it. Maybe not. But it doesn't matter anymore. I've never had so much time to prepare. Knowing now that I have a starting place next year is awesome. I will take this chance. A whole summer - even if possibly limited, autumn, winter, spring and another summer. First of all, I enjoy my health and the fact that life goes on as long as there is an Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. I am not concerned about limited life as long as I can ride my bicycle. Take everything from me, but not my road racing bicycle.
That's just between us. There are really worse things in the world. But that's definitely the worst. The Ötztaler Cycle Marathon 2020 will not take place. Our most popular season highlight is canceled. Canceled! Annulled. Without substitution. The corona virus was stronger. Even stronger than my hope. Stronger than all my positive thoughts. As I said before, there are really worse things in the world, but the fact that I have to overcome a deep mental low until the end of August 2021 is quite dramatic, disastrous, bitter and annoying. Somehow we had to expect it. The way it all escalated. All over Europe and around the world. And yet I didn't want to believe it. Now that everything is decided it hurts all the more. The organization's message hit me like a hammer. Straight to the heart. I cried. Together with my bicycle. It is such a pity that the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon cannot take place this year. I would have loved to win.
Sometimes it's very helpful to be good at math. This is not only an advantage when it comes to easy or more complicated arithmetic tasks, but also when you sugarcoat your situation. Let's call it self-motivation. Explained in a both simple and logical way: some 100 of the 227 Ötztaler Cycle Marathon kilometers are downhill. Only 127 km are uphill. Some of them are rather flat and only the rest is a strenuous climb. Mathematically speaking, that's not so much. Why should you then fear the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon? Probably because these few remaining kilometers cover 5500 altitude meters? Now, at the latest, you must realize that math and logic don't always go hand in hand. Although it seems to be easy from a mathematical point of view it turns out to be quite difficult. And complicated. It's just about getting on your bicycle and pedaling. Start and finish in Sölden. And only 227 km in between.
Indoors or out in the open? That's the question. Am I allowed or rather not? Should I or rather not? Only one thing is for sure: I must. Oh my god, it's incredibly complicated this year. Stay-at-home orders, curfews everywhere. And spring is already in the air. That's why my training plan is currently getting messed up. The only result is that I have already an enormous training deficit by now. This year's weekly statistics and monthly figures compared to previous years, meticulously adjusted with a high cancellation level of training correlation coefficient - multiplied by the arithmetic average of your Zwift kilometers - don't permit any other conclusion. There is a lot missing. A lot of kilometers and altitude meters as well as loads of time and peace of mind. There is still enough time but somehow I am also running out of time. Please, can someone stop the march of time? No, even better: turn it back. Thank you.
Eh? Why so many kilos at once? They weren't there last summer. In the past few months, my stomach has grown almost out of nothing. Nearly overnight. No. Over nights. Many nights. Terrible. My jerseys no longer fit. A true crisis. It's hardly surprising that I can suddenly pedal more watts, but I'm hardly faster. It is absolutely unimaginable to be at the start in such a physical condition and to face the race. If I also have to conquer all four Ötzi mountains, I'm definitely not in Sölden before dark. Red alert. My newest carbon racing bicycle no longer guarantees the weight advantage of over 600 grams. That must change. I need a plan. But which plan? Diet plan, nutrition plan, iron will and discipline. And where are you? Please help me. My dream is in danger. It seems almost impossible. Pretty difficult. I still have to lose many kilos. Eating half as much? Intermittent fasting? 16/8, 5/2 or even regularly 24 hours without eating. Actually, I have a nightmare.
I have a dream. No. I have two dreams. And a great wish. I am dreaming of the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon and I am dreaming of a training camp. I have already booked it and secured my window seat. Now I can train with my smart trainer in the living room. Even the balcony is an optional training place. Fortunately, there is an electrical outlet. I was able to negotiate this exceptional regulation. So that I can train under the warming spring sun. It's so good for my soul. The store room is full of supplies and food. Yes. Enough toilet paper as well. It is an exceptional time for all of us. A time full of privation. But there is one thing I won't stop now. My training. I desperately need it. It strengthens me. I really hope that this bad dream will be over soon. So that we can return to everyday life. Even if a lot will not be the way it was. One thing is for sure. What remains is the desire for conquering 227 km and 5500 altitude meters. I have a starting place and I still have this one special dream.
Enough for now. It's getting serious. Training will start tomorrow. Yes, because tomorrow is early enough. It's still 23 weeks until the big day. It will work out all right. I don't need to be in a top shape in spring but I want to live up to my potential on time. Exactly on Sunday, 30 August 2020, between 2.00 pm and 3.00 pm. More precisely, in St. Leonhard in Passeier where the last of the 227 kilometers will be waiting for me. I don't want to give away my last chance on these 29 kilometers up to the pass. I want to pace myself and mobilize my reserves of energy. That's targeted training. The training scientists call it periodization. Still 23 long weeks and tomorrow the training will start. All right. I can already see myself, rested and relaxed, pedaling up the boiling hot wall in Sankt Leonhard. A decision will be made here and here I will decide. This is no joke. The days, weeks and months of truth will begin tomorrow. Early in the morning. After breakfast. And today? Today I will have Nutella one last time.
No? For real? Really? I have a starting place? No joke? No kidding! The coveted e-mail was finally sent by the organization. I feel like hugging everyone. Even my mother-in-law. It's like Christmas, birthday, Easter and all kinds of anniversaries on a single day. I expected everything but not that. I will go to Ötztal at the end of August. No. I have to go there right now. I'm not stupid. My family will be happy, too. I have a starting place. Just one moment. I have to pay the registration fee first, otherwise it's not valid. So keep calm and stay cool. Step by step. Never stop pedaling. Don't praise the record time before arrival. That's what they say, don't they? Transfer € 154.00 plus € 10.00 for the chip deposit via online banking to the Raiffeisen account. My cycling friends will be amazed and declare me insane. I can hardly imagine a better compliment. Yes. I'm going to Sölden. And I will get the world's most coveted finisher jersey. And if you think you can speculate with my starting place, I can just say one thing: I am going to Sölden for sure.
I cannot wait any longer. It's all Ötzi. I'm planning my summer now. Although I didn't made my pile yet. Because I'm still sitting on the ergometer with vain hopes. I am still just talking at large. A journey into the unknown. I can't wait any longer. There is still so much to sort out. I definitely want to go to the mountains. Ötztal or South Tyrol? It doesn't matter, just mountains. Really mountainous. And my family? They must accompany me. There is no other way. Not really. We have discussed the summer planning extensively. In case I take part in the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon this year. Summer belongs to me and my racing bicycle. If everything works well - as planned, I'll be at the start with my dream weight and in top form. Books? Exactly, I have to buy some useful books. Training for racing cyclists, nutrition for racing cyclists, everyday life for racing cyclists, family for racing cyclists, mediation for racing cyclists, negotiations for racing cyclists, arguing for racing cyclists, coming out on top for racing cyclists. The new summer planning provides for a lot of reading. Or should I rather do more training?
How much time do we still have? I am just asking. Again and again. Like long ago when I was traveling with my parents. On vacation. How many times have I asked this question and I have never received a satisfactory answer. I was fed with hopes. Again and again. With any answer. I asked if we were already there. Soon was the answer. Always. Very soon. Even though we just left. And after that too. No matter where we were. We would have arrived soon. Soon is also the organization's favorite answer. It will soon be announced who will be allowed to take part in the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon this year. In the first half of March. How long is it until "the first half of March"? And when exactly is "the first half of March"? It doesn't matter. It takes too long anyway. Waiting for the coveted e-mail is really intolerable. One week? 10 days? Two weeks? Everything is waiting. Vacation planning, training planning, nutrition planning, weight planning. However, every day is a lost day. When will this e-mail come. When exactly? I have to organize and motivate myself.
I thought about something today. Not a bad thought. On the contrary, a very clever idea. Even if I still don't know if I will be at the start of the 40th Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. It would be advisable and recommendable to book an accommodation in Sölden right now. That's exactly what I thought. Who knows if I will get a fine place to stay near the center in mid-March or even in June. If 4,000 starters will come to Sölden, probably not alone, the approximately 11,000 guest beds in the village will be fully booked in almost no time. No more vacancies available. Of course, I could also stay in the neighboring villages of Längenfeld, Umhausen or Oetz. But I don't want to. I want to be right in the middle of action and not only in the surroundings. I don't want to wait for a last-minute offer either. Book a hotel room quickly, that was my thought. Right now. Five months before the event will take place. A few days in Sölden. The strategy will pay off. Acclimatizing, visiting the Expo and social events, chatting, taking a ride on the mountain gondola, visiting the 007 Elements James Bond Museum at Gaislachkogl, climbing the Eastern Alps' highest road up to Rettenbach Glacier and enjoying the best scrambled pancake on Timmelsjoch. The longer I think about it, the more important it is to book a room. In the worst case, I'm in Sölden as a spectator.
Leap year. 2020 is a leap year. However, February has one more day. That also means: waiting one more day. Waiting endlessly for a happy ending. The time until mid-March is an empty space. Full of hope. Will I be at the start in Sölden in late August? If it was up to me: yes. But I have no say. Lady Fortune holds the reins. She decides. Fate will determine. I am confident but at the same time I also expect a recall at the second drawing. It doesn't really make things easier or more relaxed. Uncertainty is a huge challenge at the moment. Mentally as well as physically. Another deadline until June? Oh no! I want to have it in black and white right now. So I could start the training program immediately. Putting into practice my New Year's resolutions. Being more determined and uncompromising. Pushing myself to the limit. Compared to my current mood, waiting for Christmas presents is like monotonous endurance training. Boring. Can't we turn time forward to mid-March, can't we just put the cards on the table now?
Why are there so many candidates for a starting place in the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon? The organization counts about 15,000 registrations. Why should I of all people get one of the coveted starting places? I have never won anything in my life. I have played the lottery for ages. Only blanks. I already wasted a fortune. There are said to be 4,000 lucky cyclists in Sölden. Plus loads of rumors. Some register the entire family, others register a team just to increase the chances to receive a starting place. I'm not a mathematician but what's the point? I already registered three times - am I now entitled to get a starting place? I really don't know. I lost track of things. Why are there so many candidates for a starting place in the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon? Why do so many want to take part in one of the most beautiful and well-organized cycling marathons in the Alpine Region? Couldn't some of them start somewhere else? To increase my chances of being there at the end of August? That would be very nice indeed.
The apartment has been "decorated" with post-it for many days. A full collection of adhesive notes. Yellow, blue, red and orange reminders. February is brimming with reminders in my diary. As a precaution I doubled my mobile internet data. I already checked the line. 2 MB upload speed. Should be enough. My head is full of mnemonic rhymes. Siri on red alert. Permanent stand-by. The entire social environment is urged to remind me. I definitely don't want to miss the registration deadline for the ultimate Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. It starts on 01 February. I don't care if I have four entire weeks to register. I must do what an Ötztaler Cycle Marathon candidate has to do. I have to register. Right at the beginning of the registration period. I want to be a part of it. I have to be there. Name, address, e-mail, jersey size, club, bicycle brand. Everything is already meticulously listed in detail. My cheat sheet for late summer happiness in Ötztal. Then I go to church. To pray. In between I keep my fingers crossed for about 29 days. Until I receive - with a sigh of relief - the organization's e-mail.
Summer athletes are shaped in winter. Right now. Currently. As we have winter. Which non-cycling philosopher has spouted off this paradoxical wisdom? Outside it's cold, dark, windy and slippery. And there are still more than 7 ½ months left until 30 August 2020. What's more, I still lack the main motivating factor: a confirmed start place. If I want to weather out the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon - I should, no I must start the training now! Randomly. But why, actually? To conquer the 30 km up to Timmelsjoch Pass without standing on the bike? So that the last 10 km up to the feared pass height don't seem infinitely long, turn after turn, and that the subsequent climb to the toll station doesn't become a vertical obstacle? I am reflecting. Perhaps there is a piece of truth in this paradoxical wisdom. Maybe that's a first step. An important one. Maybe. Therefore I start my training now because summer athletes are shaped in winter just as the fabulous record times at the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon.
More training. Even more training. Hard training. Even harder training. Bringing the climbs to perfection. Upgrading the material. Analyzing and improving your saddle position. And losing weight, of course! Losing weight. Increasing watts per kilogram of body weight. Optimizing. Changing your eating habits. No sugar. Much less sweets and saying no when it comes to alcohol. Ambitious Ötzi aspirants know very well that - in theory - the road to a personal record time at the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon is quite easy. Year after year. Before participation, after participation. Many could do it. Even more would do it. And some will be there. The varied New Year's resolutions of Ötzi aspirants are a kind of quiet challenges. They include desires and dreams. Wait! Something is still missing. A start place. It buys some time. Fortunately. And for the moment the New Year's resolutions will be postponed to March.