A ride on the edge of the map

The last weekend of July I spent  in Satu Mare and even if all weather forecasts announced rain, I brought my bike with me. Saturday it rained all day, but on Sunday  the weather has stabilized, even the sun came out a few times. So I started a workout on the road. My training on the road turned into a muddy workout in length of about 50 km with 130 m total climb, done in less than 3 hours. A sort of  ”Satu Mare version” of Prima Evadare.
Track registerd with Garmin Dakota 10. See the track on Connect.Garmin or download the GPX track.
As I said, I planned to go for a ride on the road, about 70 km, so I made a track in MapSource, and I downloaded it in my gps.
I started in Satu Mare – Lazuri – left towards Dorolt – right towards Atea, and from here I wanted to go towards Peles on DJ194B. Here started the unexpected. The road was full of mud, so I decided to go straight ahed, but without the hope to find some asphalt towards Peles. I found a road on grass, better then the road with mud, so I turned right on the less muddiest road, on the edge of the map, very close to the Hungarian border, until Peles next to Pelisor.

From Peles, the first km was great, a gravel road, continued on the grass with a few sections of mud. Good as long as it’s not sticky mud. Honestly I expected everything to be very sticky on so flat track.  From Pelisor, a village full of gypsies, I continued to Bercu, then I turned right  towards Noroieni Forest.  As I entered the forest I found a „service road” to the right and I entered the forest, then I went on a muddy road in the Noroieni village where my  offroad adventure ended. I came back on the road to Satu Mare, passing  through Lazuri.
Although flat and with mud, it was a nice ride.
Reclame

Race at Banat Marathon

On the 7th of August  I took part together with my team mates at the 7th edition of the Banat Maraton at Garana (near Resita), a race I attended even when I could only be a spectator (or cameraman). This year organizers have made 4 tracks: 10 km, 30 km, 50 km and 80 km but I felt I was not able to attend long distance, especially given the experience last year when I made 80 km in  almost 6 hours , so I preferred to choose the  50 km Race. This year I tried to attend a maximum distance of 65 km (except Medieval Marathon),  to regain speed and power,  necessary for XCO races.

You can see the RACE  track on the map below. It was 54 km long with 1400 total climb,  backwards to previous editions, of course not exactly the same roads and paths but the general idea was that  the climbing on Semenic I had early in the race. Honestly I liked more the track last year, especially because now the Finnish Line was completely atypical for a marathon: on a descent part, in a 90 degrees curve, on the gravel …

The track was registered with Gakota 10. You can see it on  Connect.Garmin and BikeMap or download the .GPX track.

The  race started  at around 10:15, 15 minutes after the start of the marathon and went pretty hard on the first climb. My position in the Start Loop didn’t helped me. There was a portion of the ridge and then descending followed by ascending to Semenic. Here I was far behind the main favorites, when my team mate Sergiu (Junior) got behind me. He  made ​​an excellent race with Junior National  Champion, Losonti. Until I’ve got up on Semenic I’e got my pace back. I went with Losonti, Sergiu and Otniel, and later I’ve got near Fabian too. We then enter the forest, a part that I disliked (even last year) because there were  many branches of roads, many large puddles, fallen wood and it was difficult to follow the marks because everything was descending on a false flat zone, so I was riding with high speed. My gps helped me here, at least to know the direction in advance but I could not be 100% sure because the gps track offered by the organizers was not updated with the latest changes of the track.
Here I’ve got far ahead juniors, while Otniel was far from me and Fabian. Soon the descending part started, on a single trail, towards Trei Ape lake… When I reached Trei Ape I felt powerless so at the Feed Zone (the last) I’ve got a banana and I refilled my bottle with water. I continued to ride towards finish line, trying to recover energy and  not to be overtaken from behind. On the last climb I saw my team mate, Tudor but I didn’t managed to get closer to him more than 30 seconds and as the last km were descending, he has won another 10-15 seconds in front of me.
I finnished on the 11th place overall and on the 10th position in my age category, very dissapointing result for me. My team mate Sergiu finnished on the second place in his category, and Vlad won at the 30 km race. The first place at 50 km was won by Rosioru, followed by Madaras, and Stancu on the 3rd place. The 80 km marathon was won by Vouter (a belgian who won at Prima Evadare), followed by Tudy and  Luci.

At the toughest marathon: Geiger MTB Challenge Sibiu

 

I don’t believe in superlatives like „the most” when it comes to describing a product/service/event because everything is relative… but leaving philosophers to deal with philosophy, I declare that indeed Geiger Maraton was the toughest marathon in Romania, which I attended, considering the length, total climb, soil hardness and the fact that 98% was rideable. The descent parts were steep and rocky, with deep ruts made by the motorbikes .
The marathon track (which you can see below on the map), was 97 km long with 3300 m total climb, according to the GPS that I used in the race, the longest but also the most difficult marathon which I attended in 2011.
Track registered with Garmin Dakota 10. See Connect.Garmin and Bikemap or download the .GPX track.
This year, with the exception of Medieval Marathon, I didn’t participated at marathons longest than 65-70 km so that the main rivals in this race were the track  and on the other hand myself. The track was hard and had a long distance, so I expected to finnish the race  in about 6-7 hours.  I had previous racing experience when my ‘batteries’ kept me only 3 hours. Thus the main objective was to finish, whatever the outcome, without hunting down on those in front of me (something almost impossible in a race…). Therefore I proposed to supply me well, to eat regularly and hydrate myself during the race. There were announced only four Feed Zones (which seem a little less for so many hours of riding) I decided to get my 2 L camelback , some bars, gels, a banana and an empty bottle that  I filled with isotonic drink at the Feed Zones.

The race started at around 9:30, at the center of Sibiu,  near the stadium and on the way out of town under police escort  and the referees car. So the first 8-10 km were on the road , we were riding slowly at about 20 km/h which made ​​it clutter behind the official car. When the technical start was given, there were about 40-50 riders in front of me, an absolutely bad entry in the forest.  I had to accelerate sometimes and ride at a sustained pace to earn positions. Soon I got over the first climb, followed by a descent to Cisnadioara from where started a climbing part through the forest, on the tourist trail where a few years ago the storm caught us at Cisnadie Marathon (race that was canceled). It’s a long path that goes easy on the level curve, going from side to side of the valley until it comes out in alpine. There followed a brief portion of  push-bike and then climbing to the top of Magura where I got near Maus, Ciocan, Tudor  and another few riders. There followed a short rocky  descent part from Magura, where my teammate Tudor took advance in front of me,  and then followed some short climbing on narrow trails with beautiful landscapes. After that, at km 35 to 40 followed a steep descent to the river Sadului, on  technical winding path, but with more options for shortening,  the last part was very steep with deep ruts and boulders.

 

This last part of the descent I went along my bike because it seemed impossible to come down at first sight. My teammate Tudor took advance and I haven’t  seen him, I had left behind Ciocan and Maus, and I was seeing Ujfalvi Attila in front of me. At the second Feed Zone located on an a speed area, slightly downhill,  I stopped for isotonic and I continued alone on the false flat road about 5 km, during which I was riding quite  easy to feed me before the longest climbing part (approximately 17 km) to Paltinis, to Oncesti: 1700 m (higher than Paltinis). It was the most difficult part for me,  was over 3 hours of riding and I was feeling that  my power is  off, yet I had full belly. Ciocan overtook me at the begining of climbing, on a forest road and together we reached Attila but gradually Ciocan got far from us. I continued  at my pace that would take me to the top because there  was the point of maximum altitude and from there until the arrival were more downhill parts then climbings. On the climb I had a push-bike zone through a creek that cooled down my legs,  where I saw  Levente which lost the was  at an intersection (he didn’t saw the marks).
Soon I overtook Andrei, who was tired and stopped to admire the landscape. From Paltinis to Oncesti it was harder than I thought. I was at the limit of exhaustion and I have not reached other riders, as I was hoping. At the Oncesti peak was also the third Feed Zone where I got water, isotonic an energizing bar. Soon began a rough descent requiring power of concentration after the effort I have done on the climbing.
After 80 km I have reached Levente on a steep descent,  where he was swearing while walking among his bike and promising not coming here any more, while I was enjoying every turn. I expected him to keep pace with me on the way to Rasinari, because he is better than me on speed zones but he didn’t. The road was a false flat, slightly up,  we went 3 km after we passed the creek and had a push-bike zone where I saw Ciocan, towards the fourth Feed Zone. From here until the Finnish line were 15 km left, slopes became more straight but I still enjoyed another technical descent but much shorter than the rest of the descents, where I managed to get ahead of Ciocan. There followed a speed zone through Dumbrava forest and then trails on Sub Arini Park until to arrival. I like that you can directly reach the center of Sibiu’s  on this trails 🙂
I finnished the race in 6 hours and 32 minutes, on the 7th place overall, on the 5th place in my age range, 19-29 years. My teammate Tudor was much better than me, finnishing in 6 hours and 21 minutes, on the 4th place overall and on the 2nd place in his age range. Nicu got on the 13th place overall, on the 5th place in his category of 30-39 years, in 7 hours and 13 minutes.
Sergiu got the 3rd place in Junior category and on the 14th place overall, at Semimarathon.
The winner of the marathon was Tudor Oprea, who finnished in 5 hours and 54 minutes, followed by Logigan Lucian who did it in 5 hours and 56 minutes, and Rosioru Daniel in 6 hours and 6 minutes.

It was a tough mountainbike marathon, where the road cyclists had less advantage than at other marathons. The only thing I dislike is that there were no photographers on the spectacular and toughest zones. The next weekend I would like to attend

Trasilvania GeoQuest and on the 4th of September I will attend the 4th edition of Clujul Pedaleaza series, until then I will go to EuroBike.

XCO National Championships

 

Last weekend, on the 17th of July The Mountainbike National Championships took place, at Paltinis, after 4 years when they were at Izvorul Muresului. In the same weekend, on the 16th of July, DHS Corvin Marathon was held at Hunedoara.  Even if I was tempted by the prizes announced at DHS where I think I had some chances at the podium, I choosed to go only to Paltinis, because you not often meet with such a technical XCO track, especially at the XCO National Championships.

Friday afternoon, a bit in a hurry after work, I left Cluj with my team mates.  We arrived at Paltinis at evening,  at a chalet  and the next day, Saturday we did a few laps on the track and also some pictures, reliving memories of the 2007 National Championships and Balkan Championships… Luckily the storm that passed through Rasinari and Sibiu didn’t come to Paltinis, so the track was still dry and loose and I could only hope the weather will remain the same on Sunday. The track is 5 km long with 200 m total climb and we had to go five rounds in the competition plus startloop at the beginning. You can see the map of the track and download the gps track from  Connect.Garmin or BikeMap.
Sunday, after the amateur, junior and girls races and a half an hour rain, we started the race at 13 o’Clock.
I didn’t started too hard, to keep myself fresh for the first downhill parts. On the lowest part of the track I was the 10th out of 15 riders. Where the climbing part started I overtook Robert from Geiger, and after the first flat zone I overtook my team mate Tudor.
By the end of the climbing part, they both overtook me … Tudor came first in the downhill, then Robi and me. Although Tudor is better than me at downhill parts, I lost more time here because Robert was slower than me, especially on the first downhill part, toward the point of minimum altitude of the track. So I lost important seconds behind my team mate who was the only marker in front of the first two laps. I overtook Fabian (from Geiger) and the last two laps I got close to 10 sec. to Rosioru which gave clear signs of exhaustion after  the day before he took part at the DHS Corvin Marathon. But I was not strong enough on climbing to reach or overtook him especially since losing 3-4 seconds at downhill parts, so I finished 7th as Elite Men  and on the 8th place overall  (Elite + U23 ).

My team mate Radu Tudor went better and better as we approach the end of the race, so after the last climb he overtook Juganaru  and finished 4th as Elite (5th overall) and came closer to Stancu of Dinamo who win the U23  despite the fact that it has much more experience on the road than MTB. Vlad Sabau finished on the 10th place.

It was a  great championship, a technical and spectacular track that everyone missed (I think) and even though I was nervous before the start, more because of the track but because of competition (as here competing with yourself first), everything was ok and even I felt good, better than at the Balkans in 2007 even though I was not climbing as strong as I would have liked. Congratulations for Tudy for another title but also for organizing this race, and to Petrache and Logigan who fill the other two steps of the podium.
After five consecutive weekends of competitions my next two weekends are off, during which I will prepare for August, another month full of competitions: the 6th of August. Banat Marathon, the 15th of August. Crater XCO, the 21st of August . Geiger Marathon and the 27th of August. Uphill Sinaia.

Back to the Roots

This year I understood why the previous year „Surmont MTB Challenge” was called ”Back to the roots”. Ascent and descent parts on trails with roots, push-bike areas and beautiful landscapes seen from altitude were the ‘key words’ of this event. On Sunday, the 10th of July, I attended this race toghether with my team mates. I participated in long distance, though ‘short disance’  of 44 km had about 1700 m total climb, map and profile of which you can see below.

Track registered with Garmin Dakota 10. See the map on Connect.Garmin and BikeMap or download GPX.track
The race started at 11:00 o’Clock, at the outskirts of Azuga. The first uphill part of the track was about 9 km long on a forest road , good for warming up and setting the pace… Unable to keep up with the top 10 riders,  I went along with Vlad, my team mate, until the first feed zone, but we didn’t stopped there. From there the track enters a tourist trail, marked as such until the next feed zone, the route is up and down, with roots and grooves, like a real MTB track. I stopped at the second feed zone  to get supplies of water, because according to the altitude profile given by the organizers,  I had to pass a peak of over 1700 m and it was a long ride until the next feed zone.

Tudor and Kelemen overtook me at the first feed zone, but I was getting closer to Maus while I was going through the first short push-bike zones. Soon after the forest part we get to a path with grass, where I notice that I have to leave the path, to climb on another path which was going straight up. I don’t really like push-bike zones, but I prefer it instead of flat forest roads or instead of asphalt. Maus was still in front of me, and Tudor was in front of Maus, and I was seeing both of them.
Soon begins the climb on the highest peak of the track, where I find out that I was on the 7th place overall. After that comes a downhill part on grass, and then push-bike again. When I got on top, I saw that Tudor was going to the left and Maus to the right, so I take a look to my gps and I see that the track is going to to the right. Tudor didn’t heard us screaming that he is on the wrong track, so I went on with Maus, after a little break, when we stopped at a spring to get cold water. So we didn’t stopped at the feed zone that followed. From there I knew the track because the day before the race I went on the latter part (and I made ​​some pictures, which you can see in this article), which included climbing on the ‘Cocosul’ slope, timed up separately for the title of „King of the Mountain.”
The day before the race I climbed on the slope, but I didn’t during the race, because I was tired after more than 2 hours of riding, so I gave up the fight for ‘King of the Mountain’ title, saving energy for the last push-bike zone and for the downhill part. I got close to Sarosi (from Sibiu), from 40+ category, and I followed him on the downhil part, on a forest path.
There were 3-4 km till finish. He got lost, so I finnished with Maus who got near me in the last flat km, so we finnihed together.

I finished on the 4th place overall, with Maus, after Rosioru, Kelemen and Szentes. I was on the 3rd place in my age category  and  Maus on the 2nd place in his age range. My team mate Tudor managed to get back on the track and finished a few minutes afte on the 4th place in his age range and on the 2nd place at King of the Mountain. Nicu finished on the 3rd place in his category: 30-39 years and Marius on 8.  Vlad finished 5th at medium distance.
It was a real MTB race, even if there were push-bike parts too. It was worth every drop of sweat so thumbs up for Surmont Club for organizing this event and thanks for giving us the opportunity to ride through these places. It would have been great  to be better marked in some areas and to have some photographers on the most interesting parts of the track.

Duna Maraton

Sunday on the 3rd of July, together with my teammates I attended to the XII edition of Duna Maraton, the greatest marathon in Hungary, starting  from Visegrad, a famous town on the Danube shore. The marathon had three lengths:
30km, 65 km (which I attended) and 92 km, being held in an extended three-day festival including not only a marathon, but also the European Championships „Cross Triathlon” and several other cultural and sport activities. Duna Maraton  was included in the Intersport MTB Marathons 2011 international circuit, with Salzkammergut Trophy (Austria) and Stupava Trophy (Slovakia) and the Hungarian riders fought here for  the national marathon championship titles too.
All in all it was  a very important event, which I could not miss.  I participated in 2004 when the race started  in Budapest and arrived at Visegrad.
I left Cluj with my teammates on Saturday morning at 9 and after about seven hours journey we camped very close to the start-finish zone.  I made ​​a short  accommodation tour, on the first climb and last descent part of the track, during which I visited the castle of Visegrad  (you can read about it on webphoto.ro). Here opens a very beautiful panorama of the Danube and the hills in the area, a landscape that dispel any legend which says that Hungary  is flat 🙂
The Start was  scheduled for 10:00 o’Clock  local time, so we prepared in advance, we warmed up and I wanted to get a good place at the Start line. First were allowed at start those who attended the longe distance, after them girls attending medium distance  and then gradually allowed to enter 15-20 riders in the start-block. We had about 300 people in front of us, out of over 1,000 competitors.
The first part of the track was on a 10 km climbing part on the road,  where I was able to overcome very many riders but considering that I spent at least 30 minutes before the start, without warming up, I didn’t pushed very hard. After 10 km we entered  off-road on a narrow path with rocks and roots, with short, quick turns, with a little mud here and there. In-fact this image remained in my head as representative of this marathon. I felt better after I got my pace and I definitely  enjoyed the track. Gradually I overcame some riders, even a few romanian riders  (Robike, Pantani, Ujfalvi) but a giraffe was always behind me (giraffe = a rider from a Hungarian club called so). Even if the giraffe had several opportunities to pass in front of me, sometimes I intentionally created opportunities for him, but he stayed still…There were only a few areas where he could benefit from my net but still would been common sense to go in front of me. Before the separation of routes 65 and 92 km, I caught a group of riders who took  left at the long route, so I left only with a giraffe after me.
A couple of times I  had doubts about the route because it was superficialy marked, especially on a long downhill section on the road. Shortly after this zone, I was caught up by a Hungarian rider  and by my teammate Tudor (who had  problems with the chain since the start: he managed to bend the chain and to finish the race so). I continued with Tudor going much better than me on the descents, even if they  are technical. On the climb I was in front of a group of four riders  but unfortunately Tudor was left behind. On the descent that followed, on asphalt, I hoped that Tudor will manage to catch me up so we will continue together. I needed him it to help me  on descents, but he wasn’t coming so I continued  with the giraffe behind me … When I saw the indicator announcing the last 10 km, as if I was suddenly short of energy …  I was out of power so I lost at least 6 places overall in these last 10 km, I lost even the giraffe behind me … But my luck was that here the route was more descending than climbing but even so it was a nightmare on a few  short ascending parts,  and on the last km on flat with wind in my face.
You can see the track below, and you can see the map on Connect.Garmin or BikeMap and download the gpx.track if you would like to ride on it.

I enjoyed this marathon, a fast and techincal track, the most technical track in Hungary. I should pay a lot more attention to nutrition and hydration, not only in the day of the race, but also in the  previous days.
I finnished 65 km with 1700 total climb in 3 hours and 12 minutes, on the 25 th place overall and on the 11th place in my age category.  My teammates were among the 455 men who completed the  65 km distance:
– 27 overall, 12 at age category in 3h 14′ – Tudor Radu,
– 71 overall, 32 at age category in 3h 33′ – Deak Zoltan,
– 82 overall, 36 at age category in 3h 37′ – Boldi Dan,
– 89 overall, 37 at age category in 3h 39′ – Andreica Nicolae,
– 312 overall, 85 at age category in 4h 54′ – Marius Muresan
Vlad Sabau, at 30 km distance, finnished on the 9th place overall and on the 3rd place in his age category, in 1h 11′ , the only one of our team who got on the podium.
You can download the results from temposport.hu and you can find some picture here and on sportograf.
This month I will attend to two more races, the first is Surmont MTB Challenge at Azuga on a mega hardcore track, on the 10th of July and on the 17th of July the National Championships of XCO on the most hardcore track I’ve ever been: Paltinis.

Monte Cavo – Via Sacra – Lago Albano

The manager of Pro Bike Team recommended me  to go to Roca Di Papa (Monte Cavo), on a 41 km track with 1270 total climb.  You can see the track on the map below BikeMap or Garmin Connect and you can download the gpx.track
So I went towards South of Rome, somewhere near Ciampino. I downloaded a track called  „Via Sacra”  from BikeMap which crossed  „Monte Cavo” and „Parco Regionale dei Casteli Romani” and I decided to ride on it, attracted by the ancient roman road „Via Sacra„.
There were marks left on the track after  „Colli Albani” marathon, included  in Lazio circuit, which took place in late May.

I liked the track, with a little asphalt zones, and a lot of narrow dusty paths transformed into technical trails as I was climbing higher. That place is great for single-trail lovers. I was waiting to see  „Via Sacra”, but the track was taking me up and down.
If I have traveled in the sense that was published on Bikemap, I would have got on  Via Sacra at the very beginning and I would have climbed on it up to the Monte Cavo (on the top are military and communications antennas) so as included in the marathon I was talking about. Instead, I descent on it, but just before starting to descend, I found the place where this year died Giuliana Marcheggiani. I first heard about her at Valle del Farfa Marathon seeing pictures and shirts  „Dedicato a Giuliana „.  She was training with her husband on the track  on which a week later Colli Albani Marathon would took place. Apparently she fell and broke her neck, dying on the way to hospital. She was 53 years old. I became sad there, realizing how fragile we are and how easily we can die …

For the second part of the track I used VeloMap from my Gramin device. I went around Albano, a volcanic lake, at first on a path with half-pipes and boulders (sometimes on the cliff edge)  until  Castel Gandolfo town where I continued on the pavement while admiring the lake and Monte Cavo, until I’ve   got  to where I left the car and then I returned home. I ended this „exploration” because tomorrow (Thursday, the 30th of June) we will  fly back to Cluj.