Today, early morning, we are leaving for Postojna, the start and finish of our first ultra marathon this year. The caravan with the riders will go directly from Dobra Voda. The pace car will leave from Prague and go via Brno to pick up all the team members who are not from South Bohemia. First things to do will be the routine procedures - team briefings, and technical inspections of cars and bikes. The start is after 8 pm on Thursday. Final order will be drawn today at the traditional gala evening. This year`s Race Around Slovenia is different for us because we will go as a two-person team for the first time. Our goal is to finish in around 46 hours, i.e. average speed of 26,9 km/h. The current start list of our category contains 14 teams. The route is 1,235 km long, with 13,000 m of elevation. To win our category the fastest teams would have to maintain average around 33 km/h, i.e. finish in 37 hours! For Stepan this will be his first ultra marathon, for Jira it is part of his preparations for Race Around Ireland in September this year.
Stepan joined our support team last year in spring to help us out at Glocknerman where he proved to be a new blood for the team as well as a great support to me. We often trained together during my preparations for both last year`s races. He also managed to test his endurance at the well known 24-hour race K24. He finished in fourth place without any support team. Stepan soon started enjoying long hauls in Sumava and Jeseniky mountains, and got attracted to the idea of long distance racing. Around that time came the idea that he could become a second racer of the Czech Ultracycling Team, and that he could try one of the ultra marathons this year. Stepan is 40, and lives in Ceske Budejovice with his wife Helena and three children. He works in a South Bohemian Fire Rescue Service and is a passionate beekeeper. Stepan has recently gone through CASRI tests, and the results are very promising for this season. You will see us both right at the beginning of the racing season at one of the most beautiful European races (more information to come soon).
The event at the American Center is behind us, and I would like to thank Jakub Hornek and Nick Von Martens for the invitation and excellent organization. I was joined by many CUT team members - Vlada, Vlada-mechanic, Stepan, Honza and doctor Zdenek with his wife Ester. Our long-time fan and honorary CUT member Franta Drtina also came as well as an excellent South Bohemian hand biker Honza Pihera, who took very nice photos of the whole event, you can find them in the Gallery. I was very happy to see my colleagues from Prague and representatives of our partner charity organization ASISTENCE, Erik Cipera and Tomas Moravec. The T-shirt they gave me and which I wore during the talk was very positively received by the audience. I want to thank all of those who came for their interest and stimulating questions. I was a very valuable experience for me to meet new people in a setting I am not used to. I really wish we will have a chance to meet again after we come back from RAAM in 2017. My series of talks will continue in Brno and hopefully in Benesov.
We finished Race around Austria 1500 in 2nd place in 3 days, 21 hours and 30 minutes. We are definitely not satisfied with the time and the speed average. We managed to keep up with the winner, Rainer Popp, for the first two days, after that the gap kept growing. In Lienz (1220th km of the race) was his lead more than 4 hours and it was clear we could not catch up with him. Rainer also had more strength for the last big ascents - Iselsberg, Hochtor, Fuschertörl, and Dietener Sattel - and clearly won the race. The third competitor on the 1500 route - Christoph Shaubmeier - retired from the race after 26 hours of riding after passing Bernhardsthal. We sincerely congratulate Rainer. For us the two ultra marathons this year were mainly preparation for the next season when we plan to start in one of the two races no Czech has ever finished yet - Race around Ireland or Race around Switzerland (Tortour).
On Wednesday at 14:32 we will start at the 5th annual road bike ultrarace Race Around Austria. We will be taking the "RAA 1500" route. On this route there will be three racers and one handbiker. Two of us are over 50 years old. However the race has no age categories. The start list consists mainly of racers from Austria and Germany. On the 1500 km route we will be competing with famous German RAAM 2011 finisher, Rainer Popp. He was also third at the first Race Around Austria in 2009. Same as at Glocknerman this year, I will be the oldest competitor on the start list. There will be live GPS tracking on the race’s website: XLOC. We are looking forward to this route of this race RAA 1500 because we have a good experience from EXTREME RAA 2011.