Category Archives: MTB

24h MTB European Champion on a diet

One week before the European Championships I took part in a charity campaign for multiple sclerosis sufferers. The goal was to collect as many vertical meters and thus also money for the Nathalie-Todendöfer-Foundation within 12 hours. Actually not the best preparation for an important race one would think. But I got to know incredible people with touching life stories, who have an enormous will to live (and survive). Cycling means living for them. Since I was still the World Champion in the Masters class, I was at the start with my World Champion jersey and many MS sufferers told me that it is motivating for them to be allowed to ride with me. It was exactly these great people who deeply impressed me and gave me the necessary motivation for the European Championships. So I was determined to give my all for these personalities at the European Championships.

Optimized training, structured nutrition, highly motivated and tuned the bike, I travelled to Dießen am Ammersee with my support team one day before the race. It had rained for half a day and it was already certain that it would be a mud battle because the soil in the forest and on the meadows would probably not dry so quickly. For time and weather reasons, we refrained from a track inspection.

I was floating over the track in the first laps and no solo starter could follow me.

The alarm clock rang at 4am and it was just too early to get up. With small eyes, I tortured myself out of the bed. Breakfast, set bikes and off for the race.

When we got there, our pavilion was gone. The entire area was closed and not a single team was there. Sascha Straus, a befriended cyclist, came running towards me. “The area is closed. We took down your tent yesterday and put it back up there.” He pointed to our pavilion that was now located in the paddock but at a descent. Not perfect for catering during the race, but at least it was directly on the track. That is the beauty of us “extreme riders”. You help each other and it’s more about friendship than about rivalry. Unfortunately, this is far too rare in sport.

After the shock with the pavilion, there came immediately the next one. My girlfriend was furious because I had bought too little and the wrong drink and had much too little to eat. “You want to race a 12-hour race on carbonated mineral water? You only have three bars with you and there’s only a sip left in the iso bottle. That’s never enough. You’re gonna die like a raisin!” I knew she was right. But I had to counter somehow. “I brought homemade bars, five jelly babies and homemade gel. It’ll be all right.” Don’t panic was my motto. It was now 7:30 am, another 30 minutes until the start and the sun was already burning down from the sky. It promised to be a hot day and I really had to keep up with the few calories I had packed.

Refuelling, no matter whether it’s carbs, electrolytes, or simply water, is one of the key factors to success in any endurance sport.

The starting shot was fired, 68 individual starters and a total of 99 teams whipped off. I tried to put a lot of pressure at the beginning because I knew that you couldn’t keep up the pace in the scorching midday sun. Especially if you didn’t have enough food like me. So I mingled with the teams of six and four. But right from the beginning they set a good pace and my pulse was above the 170 mark several times during the first lap. As expected it was still really wet in the forest sections and on the meadows. It took a lot of energy, but everybody had to go through it.

Maximal concentration in full speed action.

After three hours of racing and an average heart rate of 155, I had already gained a considerable lead. So I slowed down a bit because I knew that the heat would come. In the forest it was still reasonably pleasant, but in the transition area and in the team area, which were below the mountain, the air was stagnant. I called this place “Death Valley”. I was very happy that I didn’t ride the race with my world champion jersey. On the one hand, I was a bit embarrassed but on the other hand, I could fall back on all advantages of my cooling jersey from X-Bionic.

The atmosphere cycling through the lush forests is remarkable. Not to forget about the much appreciated shade!

Meanwhile, the pulse levelled at 140 beats per minute and the lap times also became slower and slower. I received the information from another driver that a group of five had formed behind me, apparently working together. But it turned out that there was a good minute between my pursuers. So the race was really on and a gruelling race arose.

This is how it’s done!

My very economical diet was now also a problem for me, but I knew that this was now a tactically decisive point of the race. I pushed the pace and put quickly anther 5 minutes advantage on my competitors. However, after eight hours of driving, not only my stomach felt empty, but also my legs. The dry, hot air and the thrifty diet made me feel more and more uncomfortable and I slowed down. Even though I slowed down, I still increased my lead. Everybody was suffering from the conditions.

The last few hours have been a crucial test for the head. The legs did their job, but the mind kept screaming “stop”. Though, encouragement from the reigning 24-hour world record holder Slim Gamh-Drid, helped a lot. The last two hours, I didn’t minimized the risk and slowed down. I talked to the marshals and my comrades on the track. I tried to give back what they gave me before. Encouragement. Even even gave my last gummy bear to a participant who apparently really needed it. Before the last lap I even had enough time to put on the world champion jersey for the finish.

Taking in the atmosphere and cheers from the incredible crowd in my last lap.

The numbers to win the MTB 12-hour European Championships in the solo category: 264 kilometres with 4,600m elevation and 5,000 calories.

Your,
Kai

It feels surreal to be on top of the podium.

Three punctures to victory

Finale Ligure – The world’s toughest 24h MTB race

For the 20th anniversary, the organizers came up with a special format. Different from the last few years, when the competitions for individual starters and teams of two took place one day before the faster teams of four, eight and twelve, everyone started together this year again. Due to the higher number of athletes on the track, the overtaking processes and getting into a race rhythm was considerably more difficult.

This year the lap was the longest ever with almost 12 kilometres and an altitude difference of approx. 550 metres. Especially for single starters, this was a big disadvantage because catering was only possible in the transition area of the race and dehydration of the single starters was pre-programmed right from the start.

The goal is to have as few stops as possible and refuel the 15’000 burned calories on the bike.

In the preparation, I started some units at 3 o’clock in the morning to prepare myself optimally for the racing situation at night. I started with a super light bike and wanted to have an advantage on the up to 22% steep climbs. Since I always start with racing shoes and pedals, the power transmission is higher than with mountain bike shoes and you are also more firmly clicked into the pedal. However, running is a lot more difficult. To my disadvantage, the organisers decided to let us single drivers and teams of two start three hours before the other teams in the Le Mans starting procedure. This means, after the starting signal, we had to run about 800m to our bikes first before the actual mountain bike race would start for us.

Right from the start, I was able to put pressure on the front pack and kept up with the best teams of two. In a descent, however, I noticed that I had a flat rear tire and had to repair it. Accidentally, even my spare hose was defective and almost the entire rider field passed me. Fortunately, though, a German participant stopped and lent me his own spare hose. However, in the hurry, I had inflated the tyre too little and after a few kilometres on a steep, technical descent I had another flat tyre because I hit a stone with my rear wheel too hard. Being the last, I had to run three kilometres into the catering area and changed to my second bike while my care team repaired my bike.

From that point on I had a lot of catching up ahead of me because like every year in Finale Ligure, some of the best endurance mountain bikers in the world compete at this race and every meter has to be worked hard for. After two laps my actual racing machine was ready for use again and I was able to resume the ride properly. With temperatures around 28C and just a few shade-giving trees at the ascents, it seemed as the sun would literally suck the energy out of the body. After three hours of racing, I already got the first cramps in my legs, which indicated a dehydration. Some of my comrades-in-arms even had signs of a heatstroke at that time and the heat also left its mark on me. The cramps should get worse in the next few hours.

This hill challenged me 25 times!

After four hours, I had a more serious fall a blind bend and crashed into the bushes. I tried to rinse the little wounds at elbows and knees provisionally with water and after a short check of the body, I decided to continue racing. A short time later, however, I noticed that I had unfortunately lost my sports watch in the crash. Now, I no longer had an overview of which hour of the race I was in, how my heart rate is or how many calories I burned. It was all about my experience and how well I know my body from now on. To not risk too much, I slowed down a bit after the crash.I had already been able to work my way into the top 10 within the short time and, simultaneously, some of the favourites also had to quit the race. The multiple winner Rudolf Springer from Austria had to finish the race before nightfall as well.

After almost nine race hours, I took a short break to pee. The first one. My team used this time to attach the lamps for the night session to my bike and helmet. The night is always a bit riskier at this race compared to other 24-hour races, because the track demands full concentration all the time. Especially the sections at the cliffs do not forgive any mistake. I knew that 24h races would be decided at night and that’s when I could make up a lot of ground on my competitors in front of me. An advantage over my competitors was also my gear. During the night it got rather chilly and whereas the others had to stop to change or put on jackets, I simply kept on riding in my X-BIONIC gear. Trust me, it keeps you performing under all conditions!

Riding right next to the cliffs was a bit thrilling during the night.

In the morning at five o’clock, the sun rose again and throughout the night I was able to claim the second place. However, I was aware that the last four hours are always the toughest of the race. You’ve been in the saddle for 20 hours and you think almost made it, but there are still four hours to go before the finish. Yet, this remaining time alone is usually longer than a normal bike tour. Four hours at this point of the race is a lot. A lot to make up or also lose positions.

As expected, the last hours were once again gruelling. Why do I keep on doing this to myself? In the meanwhile, I had cramps all over my body – in my legs, arms, fingers and even my tongue. The body was maltreated. Since last year. I have been working for and with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferers and could now imagine for the first time how such a boost with cramps must feel like. It was no different for the competition and the leading Frenchman even had to give up the race a few hours before the end. I was now in first place and could actually put a lap between myself and my pursuers. By the end of the race, I even managed to increase the gap to two laps.

Over the moon, after a whole day and a whole night in the saddle, I reached the finish line of the biggest and toughest 24-hour MTB race in the world. In the first position! Victory!

Without the support of my family and friends, no matter on or off the track, this great achievement would not have been possible. I’m really thankful for how everyone helped me to achieve this success.

Yours,
Kai

Eurobike & Demoday impressions Part I

The first day of the Eurobike 2013 is over: the Demoday in Ratzenried was a great event with lots of X-BIONIC® fans and sunny weather. All test pilots were equipped with our new bike wear and the latest technologies The Trick® and Thorny Devil. Our test rides started at 10 am with a short introduction of the new technologies. Hanka Kupfernagel and Horst Reichel came with us at the off and on road tracks and gave some insider tips for a better training and race experience. Our X-BIONIC® video team had great opportunities to film some nice impressions of the riders and the location.

 Demoday video

X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
Demoday test teamX-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® TeamRide at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
X-BIONIC® at the Eurobike Demoday 2013
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