Tour de Kärnten – Stage 3 – Koralm Runde

It was an overcast morning. The Norwegians claimed it was about 15 degrees but they must have been in a pessimistic mood, it felt a little warmer. I was not feeling quite as fresh as the weather. The morning routine was a little less efficient than normal.


Today’s stage was 105 km and is the longest of this year’s tour. We started as usual, around the side of the lake, with the short climb near the start. I’d positioned myself near the front of B block and was still well placed when the neutralised section ended. Today this was after the first, somewhat scary, descent with cyclists everywhere and the sound of disc brakes squealing. A shorter warm up than yesterday.


The pace picked up and it looked like we had formed a big group with A block. The stage is fairly flat for much of the race and this resulted in a very fast group. We hardly slowed for the rollers. It was good fun.


I kept up with the group on the longer climbs spinning at over 100 rpm to save my legs. After a while, along came a longer, more serious climb. I struggled to stay with the bunch sliding off the back with some others but managed to work my way back onto the back at the top of the climb.


We had a couple of long fast descents and I nearly lost the bunch on one of them. On another the seal had been removed from the road leaving just a thin layer and giving us a gravel feeling, which is ok, but quite adventurous in a bunch at 65 km/h. I was happy to still be with the big group of maybe 40 or 50 cyclists. We continued to power along at a good pace. I drank from my rapidly dwindling water supplies and wondered whether I should be eating more. Only a few jubes, not so much.


I recognised the roads and some of the turns. We came to a sharp right hand bend, which I struggled to take without ending on the curb. Someone was already on the curb. We began to climb again and my legs didn’t feel so fresh. I held on at the back but decided I was pushing a gear that was too hard and changed down. Click, my chain was gone and so was my speed. Thomas tried to push me as he went past but the hill was too steep and I was already going too slowly. I jumped off my bike and quickly put the chain back on. The race car passed me and some other traffic. I started to ride, trying to catch up with the bunch. The few seconds had already given them a lead I couldn’t reduce and I watched them slowly pull away. Sad times. I’d held on with them for so long.


I rode alone looking at the profile and thinking how much faster I’d be in the group. I realised I had very little energy left and my pace was now comparable to a small slimy animal. I struggled up the last 7km of the climb. My legs were poked but more so it was a lack of fuel. Sadly, people started to stream by. More struggling. I could see the finish at the castle 300 m above me in the distance. The 1000 m mark came up and I was going for the world’s slowest sprint. The route kicks up and it’s 20% to the finish line. More people passed me. Salt began to sting my eyes as sweet ran into them. I tried to pick up the pace for the last 200m and managed a slightly less pitiful pace pulling away from the couple of people directly behind me.


I crossed the finish line and wobbled over to the drinks station and stood there for a few seconds. The guy there told me it was ok, I’d made it as he saw me with my head in my hands on the handlebars. I consumed cola, bars, oranges, anything I could get my hands on. Then it was time for Kaiserschmarrn from the restaurant, which was quite fine.


The finish of Stage 3 at Magdalensberg (Tour de Kaernten 2022)Cyclists nearing the finish line  (Tour de Kaernten 2022)Cris and cyclists behind (Tour de Kaernten 2022)View from Magdalensberg (Tour de Kaernten 2022)Kaiserschmarn at the finish line (Tour de Kaernten 2022)Bikes near the finish (Tour de Kaernten 2022)

1) The stage finished with a tough steep climb, ending at Magdalensberg. I really struggled up the climb.

2) Tired cyclists continued to arrive.

3) I posed.

4) It’s a nice spot at the top.

5) The post race food was delicious Kaiserschmarrn.

6) Bikes near the finish.

Cris at the finish line at Magdalensberg (Tour de Kaernten 2022)

Above: More posing at the finish line.


Tour de Kärnten – Stage 3 – Koralm Runde

Gun time: 03:23:29.4  Dst: 105 km Avg: 30.9km/h Max: 80.5km/h Ascent: 1655 m


Rank: 148 Category: M40+ Category Rank: 19

Splits 0-57km: 01:37:48.5 57-92km: 00:57:01.8 92-105km: 00:48:39.1


Tour de Kärnten 2022 – Stage 2 – Lokal Runde

After a short period of rain yesterday evening it was a cool morning start, which was ideal. I’d been promoted to the B Start Block after my efforts yesterday and I lined up with those with better legs than some (and worse legs than others).

 

The same drill as yesterday, we started neutralised heading left and around the lake before climbing, and then descending. The route diverged from yesterday’s early on and the race started after about 5km. I didn’t hear the starting gun again but saw the race vehicle at the start of the bunch pulling away as the pace picked up. We started straight into a hill, just to sort everyone out. I dropped back a bit but managed to get a good group and we raced along windy narrow undulating roads. It occurred to me that I’d ridden them before but in the reverse direction in previous tours. We climbed a familiar road with switchbacks that I remember descending. My legs were pretty good and I enjoyed the feeling of being able to race along with the group. Familiar roads and turns continued to pop up. I must have ridden variations of this route a handful of times now.

 

The race is a bit of a blur. Lots of descents and climbs. I almost fell off the back a couple of times but clawed my way back to the main group. It shrank as some didn’t make it. We got to the highest point, a part of the route I remember well. It dives into a steep descent, which one year was wet, foggy, and treacherous. It was sunny today and we flew down the road gliding around the corners. The switchbacks were accompanied by the sound and smell of brakes. It’s a descent where you can get a lot of speed up which you then need to scrub off on the sharp corners and dangerous off camber bends. I’m not sure how my descent compared to previous years but I felt I was taking it a bit slower and more safely. Apparently not everyone was doing this as one rider failed to take the hair pin bend and slid into the gravel on the verge. As we came to one of the nasty sharp off camber corners the same rider failed entirely to take the corner crashing off the road into some fallen branches. I stopped, others didn’t. His bike didn’t look in great shape but he seemed ok.

 

I’d put in an effort at the top of the climb to ride past the stragglers and up to the front. This group that I’d worked so hard to stay with was gone but there were still others coming down. I jumped back on the bike and descended the last 100 metres and managed to get back into a good group that formed on the flat. We moved along at a good pace and it wasn’t so long before we arrived at the last small climb before the 10 km of downhill to the finish. The last part of this stage is always fast and good fun. We descended and after a flat section reached the turn to Feldkirchen, leaving the roundabout to the left. The marshalls had the traffic stopped for us. We bumped along the road, in need of repair, into town. Some started sprinting far too early thinking we must almost be there. I remembered the route though and also the criterium that I rode here back in 2017.  Another sharp right hand turn then a straight and a left hand turn, and we were on the cobble stones leading to the finish line. I’d already moved forward passing the majority of the bunch on the left, and put in a bit of a sprint closing in on the first to cross the finish line. Unfortunately I’d ran out of road to quite get him.

 

Riders were sitting around on the steps, seats, and next to the water fountain. Pasta with a radler. Others crossed the line, and later it began to empty as people began to cycle back to the Faaker See. I rolled off and cruised back via the Ossiacher See, where the tour has in the past always started. It was sunny and warm with Kärnten’s trademark white fluffy clouds. It felt peaceful. Idyllic.

 

Cris at the finish in Feldkirchen - stage 2 (Tour de Kaernten 2022)

Above: I had a good race and enjoyed the last sprint along the cobblestones. The stage finished in Feldkirchen as usual and we refueled with pasta and radler in the town square.

Taking it easy after stage 2 (Tour de Kaernten 2022)

Above: I took it easy by the lake after the stage.

Nice clouds in Kaernten (Tour de Kaernten 2022)

Above: Kärnten has nice clouds!

 

 

Tour de Kärnten 2022 – Stage 2 – Lokal Runde

Gun Time 02:51:47.6, Dst: 83.88 km Avg: 29.3 km/h Max: 71.4 km/h Ascent: 1563 m

Rank 151, Category M40+, Category rank 18, 0 – 28km 01:00:09.3, 28-54km 01:00:43.2, 54-84km 00:50:55.1

Tour de Kärnten 2022 – Stage 1 – Gerlitzen Runde

Another Tour de Kärnten after a three year break!

 

Breaking with tradition, this year’s Tour started at the Faaker See. This was good for me as I took the train here from Lindau and the Faaker See is much easier to access by train than the Ossiacher See. Who knows what I would have done otherwise. As you might imagine, I have a lot of stuff. I have my bike and a large bike bag for transporting it, my Katie-tent, the old trusty somewhat-less-waterproof fairydown tent I bought off Katie, far too much clothing, my laptop, and a couple of cameras. Very restrained on the last one. Anyway, I got here and today was the first stage of the tour.

 

As usual we left the start neutralised. I’d been given a C block start. We rolled along for 17 km towards Villach, through, and out via a familiar road from previous starts from the Ossiacher See. I was so far back that I didn’t hear the race gun. The pace increased and as per every year I found myself needing to get around slow cyclists. I’ve moaned about it before many times but the start position has a big influence on the bunch you end up in and potentially then your finish position. But nobody likes a whiner. So I put down the power and was happy to see my legs where eager.

 

I probably cooked my legs a bit much considering there are still 5 stages. There was a crash not far in front of me near the start. I got through it pretty quickly and continued and tried to bridge across to groups in front. Others sat on my wheel. I got across to a few but then was a bit pooped. I rode behind someone as we almost gained the back of the group but then he wilted resulting in us both falling back. Ended up riding near the back of the group to give my legs a bit of a rest.

 

We turned right and started ascending a major climb. I remember one race where I overtook people here but this time I struggled at the back dropping off before slowly riding back on. I passed a few people as it dipped and then kicked up again. Soon I was riding alone with a group tantalising close in front but not close enough to get over to. I fell back to a few behind me. The group in front was creating a line of cars banked up behind them which worked to our advantage and we caught up to the cars and then drafted our way past one by one.

 

The road steepened and the road was free but we were still behind the group by perhaps 200 m. I stamped on the pedals and accelerated down the gently winding descent topping out at over 70km/h. I got close to the group but still not close enough. A guy caught me and we started working hard to catch up. This part of the stage is a nice very slight downhill and in past tours it’s been a fast section stretching for many kilometres. Today we were blessed with a strong head wind. We eased off and a few caught up and five of us worked together to try and catch the group up. It’s a fool’s game, going hard and burning plenty of energy to try and catch up when they’re 30 people and we’re just five. They got away but we didn’t ease up. After a final steep descent we had a sharp right hand bend which one of us failed to take heading straight down the main road.

 

The road turns up a valley and it’s actually a really nice ascent with meadows and forest on either side of the road. At this point my legs revolted and I promptly fell off the back of the group. Stragglers began to pass me as I slowly cycled up the valley. I held on to a couple of riders for a bit but then they were gone too. One final steep climb and then a lovely flowing descent. I could see a group behind me and descended quickly hoping to keep away. A final right hand bend and another sharp climb and they all passed me. My legs had nothing more going into the finish line. I’ve sprinted the last 100 m in the past but not today.

 

The weather was fine with fluffy white clouds which made the little church in the township of Arriach look quite picturesque. I hung about for a while waiting in a long queue for food before rolling back down the hill and taking  a round about way back to the Faaker See courtesy of Google’s navigational choices.

 

Race vehicles at the start (Tour de Kaernten 2022)Competitors at the finish (Tour de Kaernten 2022)

Above left: For the first time in the history of the Tour de Kärnten we started at the Faaker See. Above right: The stage finished in Arriach. I had nothing left in my legs for a sprint across the finish line.

Church at the finish in Arriach (Tour de Kaernten 2022)

Above: I’ve finished here in Arriach a few times. It’s very picturesque with its church.

 

 

Tour de Kärnten 2022 – Stage 1 – Gerlitzen Runde

Gun time: 02:55:56.8  Dst: 88 km Avg: 30.1km/h Max: 74.5km/h Ascent: 1308 m

Rank: 169 Category: M40+ Category Rank: 21

0-52km: 01:41:28.5 52-82km: 01:04:44.1 82-88km: 00:09:44.2