Friday, February 20, 2015

A cycling weeked in Nice

To escape the foggy, dark and depressing weather in Zuerich, I spontaneously decided to fly to Nice for a three day weekend. With a bike rented and a small hotel room, I was ready to discover Nice.

Here are the details:

Airport: The airport of Nice is adjacent to the city and it takes a 10-20 minute bus ride to get downtown.

Hotel: I stayed in Eastern Nice in a 10 room hotel, privately owned: Clair hotel for 55 Euro/Night. If you prefer to cook your own food (with a grocery store in 2 minute walking distance) the room has a small cooking niche. It is a simple setup, not at all fancy but has everything one needs. Plus, the hotel owner is very nice and makes sure you have a nice stay.

Bike: To avoid the hassle with bike transfer and build-up, I rented a Giant TCR Advanced at for 165 Euro for three days. It is an online service and they delivered it to a near-by La Route Libre bike shop which was a 10 minute walk from the hotel.

Riding: The guys at the Route Libre bike shop were awesome. I joined them for a ride to Italy and back. If you are looking for recommendations on routes, ask Francois from the bike shop. He speaks English and knows the area very well.
On Saturday we rode along the coast to Italy and back. Amazing scenery. Beautiful view to the ocean, castles, and towns like Monte Carlo and Menton. From the coastal road there seem to be endless climbs up perfect to get more climbing into the ride.
On Sunday, I joined a Triathlon club towards Cannes and then hit the mountains. Monday, I rode up to the small town St Agnes.

And here some pictures:

View towards Menton

Fantastic views

Relaxing near the water

The town of St Agnes on top of the mountain

Smoothly paved roads

Friday, December 12, 2014

Race in Cyprus - 4 Day challenge for every runner

If you enjoy running (no matter if recreational or elite), warm weather and like the idea to take your post-race recovery nap on the beach then the Four Day Cyprus Challenge might be just perfect for you!

Cyprus is located South of Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea

Being very new to running, I decided what better way to get great workouts in than heading into the sun in middle of November for a 4 day running event.

The four days were compromised of very different running races.

It all started of with a 6km flat, paved time trial, each runner starting 10 seconds apart. Sounds easy, right?

Well, right from day one tactics are played because the winner would be the one with the fastest time of all four races combined. 

So do you run those six kilometers hard and hope you have enough left at day 4 or play it safe but potentially losing valuable seconds? 
Either way, day 2 would test your physical and mental limits with a 11km off road race with an 600m elevation gain. If it's not your quads that scream for oxygen, your lungs will! The race strategy on this day is pretty clear: survive!

Even in November, Cyprus can offer temperatures around 20°C (68F)
If hills are not your strength, you can shine on day three at the off-road half marathon with a 8km descent. But not so fast. You need to work for this treat by climbing up 10km beforehand.
Although the idea of running downhill sounds fantastic on day 3, day 4 might be a different story, especially if your legs are not used to descending.

The “fast” 10km on day 4 through the near-by town Paphos will make sure to remind you of the past three days. Setting a new personal record seems to be out of question, but how much slower the time will be depends on the tactics you played the last three days.

Fantastic views from the mountains
All these intense moments are shared with a great, welcoming, friendly community of about 200 runners of every age and ability. At every finish volunteers and runners cheering for other runners. You share the stories of glory and pain. 
And if you happened to wake up and forgot what you signed up for, you will remember at breakfast when watching your fellow runners hobbling back and forth to the buffet. But dont be mischievous because you will too!

Either way, it’s all good fun. The fantastic, upbeat atmosphere of the runners, the top-notch organization, the beautiful scenery combined with the welcoming Cypriot mentality make this a perfect vacation in November (and since it is off-season, no tourist crowds anywhere!)

Monday, August 25, 2014

How to succeed at tough races

Two months ago I signed up for one of the harder races in Switzerland: the Alpenbrevet, a 276km race with over 7000m of elevation. However, with a new job I have less time for riding and only two months ago I hopped on my bike maybe once a week. 

Still, I signed up for the longest and hardest distance of the three racing options. 

Finishing a race of that magnitude is not an easy goal, especially if your training capacity is mediocre at best. 

However, although physical fitness is very important, what gets you really up the mountain, through nasty weather conditions and across the finish line is your mind!

Here are a few suggestions that help me get through tough challenges, even with less training:

Never doubt your success. You gotta be on the start line thinking that you will succeed. Any doubt will later, in tough times, knock on your mental door and question your sanity. During the first climb of the Alpenbrevet, all the different distance groups (Silver, Gold, Platinum) rode together. I asked a few riders what distance they will ride. A lot said `I will see. I was thinking of Platinum but if I do not feel well, I will go for the Gold distance`. All of them set themselves up for not completing the highest goal they could achieve. 

Don’t focus on the pain. If you do it will only get worse. It`s the same with feeling sick. If you think about getting sick, you will. Distract yourself. Especially on long challenges, try to distract yourself with something else than your current activity. Sooner or later, you will find yourself thinking about it all the time anyway. Now, when it is easy to entertain yourself with other things, like chatting (if possible) with other riders, enjoying the nature, counting the white stripes of the middle lane, will make the latter and tougher part of the race mentally easier. 

Tell as many people as possible about your goal. Because you would have to tell all of them you had to quit. Then try to imagine what you would tell them. If it sounds like an excuse, keep going.

Play worse-case scenario. If you are getting tired climbing up a mountain, ask yourself: How could it be worse? The grade could be steeper. It could rain. There could be headwind. It could be a cobble way. All of a sudden, your current condition does not seem too bad anymore.

After all it all boils down to:
Pain is temporary but failure lasts forever.

Plus, crossing the finish line after a very tough challenge is an indescribable addicting feeling.

What gets you through a tough race?