20th Wachauer Radtage, 15. July 2018, Mautern an der Donau
This year we got to know Martin from the bike blog 169k kennenlernen. Martin completed the Raiffeisen Power Cycling Marathon over a distance of 85 km. He has summarized his experiences in his report. The report was first published on 169k - Ein Radblog.
The Wachauer Radtage celebrate their 20th birthday - the 20th edition of the classic by the World Cultural Heritage. To celebrate this day, they took a closer look at the three tracks and mixed together a best of the previous versions for the 2018 edition. This changes the distances and altitude meters - but also the requirements, the race division and the course of the race. How the routes look exactly, I have already summarized in the run-up to the bike days.
Raiffeisen Power Cycling Marathon
I'm at the start of the Raiffeisen Power Cycling Marathon, the key data: 85 kilometers and about 800 meters of altitude difference through the Wachau.
I got to the launch site earlier than last year. I remembered that I was late in 2017 and only got the very last place on the grid. The access to the starting blocks has been slightly improved this year, but there are still traffic jams at the entrances and not everyone can find the space he wants anymore. I am one of those who are slightly outside the gang and only find a place on the road at the actual start.
But from this point on everything goes very quickly and smoothly. The field is moving fast, none of the often occurring stop-and-go waves, which also bring a certain potential danger. Quickly over the bridge at Mautern on the north side of the Danube and off through the World Cultural Heritage Wachau towards Spitz.
A few meters in front of me a jersey of the Continental team MyBike Stevens flashes out of the crowd. After a week on the tour of Austria I'm practically conditioned for the jerseys of the pros. Unfortunately, the team was afflicted by a gastrointestinal virus on the Ö-Tour, from day to day fewer drivers of the team were at the start, until at the end only one driver could sign the starting sheet. One of those who were virtually taken off the bike was Maximilian Kuen. After a great performance at the ÖSTM at Kahlenberg he would have been in good shape for the tour. The Wachauer Radtage is his first "ride" on the bike after the Ö-Tour, he rides along out of competition. Practically, its basic/comfort level is somewhere close to my FTP value - which makes for a good ride through the Wachau on the first twenty flat kilometres.
Shortly before Spitz my speedometer shows an average of 45 km/h, this will probably not stay that way for long, since the first hill is on the agenda. The field has already cleared a bit, firstly because the field separation took place a few kilometres before - the participants of the Champion Marathon turned off there for their long lap, but also because the pace was quite high.
From Spitz the route now climbs slightly. I didn't drive this section of the route in advance and therefore I'm a little off course with my expectations. Instead of the feared big ascent it goes rolling over several hills, the speed is correspondingly high. Last year things got steeper and slower here (up to Nöhagen). The majority of the group, which drove together in the flat, also stays together here. I leave out the refreshment at the highest point of this stretch - with my two bottles I can easily get over the distance, in addition the handling of the mineral water bottles is too complicated for me, which one gets (screwed) into the road.
Nevertheless I feel slowly but nevertheless my legs. I just sat in the car for eight days to accompany the tour of Austria with my camera. Eight days without activity, eight days in which I only supposedly rested from cycling. But now at the latest I can feel my "Haxn rising" - as Rudi Massak, the General Secretary of the Cycling Federation, predicted at the joint dinner two days before.
The Danube bridge at Melk marks about half of the race. Just as every participant in the Vienna City Marathon has to painfully realize that the Reichsbrücke is actually a small "mountain", this Danube bridge is more than just a small "swab", especially if you want to get to the other side at a fast pace.
In 2017, the route from here "only" went flat towards the finish, this year it is only a short stretch along the Danube. In Aggsbach turn right towards Dunkelsteiner Wald. While the Ironman St. Pölten runs straight up to Gansbach, we turn left towards Maria Langegg. There is a short but crisp climb with up to 12% gradient on a few meters. I decide to leave my comfort zone and push up the climb. When they reach the top, the group, which has disintegrated considerably in the meantime, passes through an arch and the work appears to have been completed. I have divided up my reserves in such a way that I am empty here - I don't need much for the descent and the remaining few kilometres to the finish.
Insight 1 comes to light - namely that the week in the car has a stronger effect than expected. Insight 2 concerns the lack of track knowledge, since three or four small climbs come after the arc of the mountain classification - with a length of one hundred to two hundred meters actually not worth mentioning, but in the present condition no longer very entertaining. I'm losing contact with the last passengers. Only one colleague stays over, somehow we get over the last vertical meters together.
The following descent is fast, but like all parts of the marathon all danger points are well and clearly marked. While most marathons are limited to having the participants sign countless disclaimers and waivers of liability, the Wachauer Radtage also does good preparatory work - with videos of the course, explanations of the danger points and a good marking both on the course and through the multiple marshals. Nevertheless, I am not spared a short moment of shock on the descent. In a fast left turn, suddenly a wheel lies on the ground on the right side of the road - without a front wheel and behind it a steep slope down into the forest. I look around me in surprise, stop and recognize a cyclist with a wheel in his hand standing about ten meters below in the forest. Fortunately, my question whether everything is all right is acknowledged with a "Yes, thank you", so nothing stands in the way of my onward journey. The "lost" seconds can be decisive for a rider who has fallen, so I gladly accept that. And too often you have heard stories that cyclists don't stop when falls happen around them, although there is little or nothing at stake...
After the descent, the last five kilometres follow the finish line, again on the main road along the Danube. Group is no longer in sight, I try again to push on the tempo, but quickly realize that my legs are empty. My work for today is done, I roll comfortably over the finish line in Mautern.
The 104th place is later in the result list, Strava confirms the positive impression I had during the race. Satisfied I can enjoy my first meal at the finish - my legs empty, my experience richer.
We'll see each other again next year. Beautiful track, great organization, short journey and a great field of participants will also offer a good framework next year.
Photos: © Sportograf.com