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Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung, 2009/07/21
Reading time 2:40 minutes

Transalp requires team spirit

880 kilometres with more than 18 000 altitude metres that must be climbed by road racing bicycle within seven days. Transalp is for amibitious amateur cyclists what Tour de France is for professionals. This year it was the third time that Dirk Zedler from Ludwigsburg was at the start.

The 46-year-old is not a usual participant in the stage race crossing the Alps, as the bicycle expert is a regular author of the road bike magazine TOUR organizing the Transalp. For him the tour is a good opportunity to carry out thorough material tests that will then be the topic of several articles published in the follow-up issues of the magazine. In addition, he kept a daily diary together with his partner, TOUR-reader Christian Baumhof from the nearby of Cologne, for the Transalp website, as the amateur race across the Alps is made in teams of two.

There are, however, not only professional reasons for Zedler to sit on his bike and to face such challenges. As in the start-up phase of his company in the 1990ies sport had become very seldom in his life, the skilled mechanical engineer decided a few years ago that something had to happen. Instead of triathlon that had been his competitive sport activity in his years as a student, he started to concentrate on cycling. In doing so he made a suprising experience: “During the first TOUR training camps I became aware that the way I had done my training before was completely wrong”, Zedler admits. Instead of training at the limit he was used to in the past he had learned to cycle at a slower pace. Success proved him right, as in the first marathon races he participated in from that moment on he was much faster than before.

This applied, however, not for this years Transalp compared to the two first participations in this race. This year the tour across the Alps has been his weakest one from the sports point of view, says Zedler. In the master or senior class 1 he finished with his partner 74th from 173 duos, with about eight hours behind the winners. This was, however, less due to a lack in fitness, but due to the tests and the material that was not always reliable. More than all in all one hour the two of them lost by waiting for the service car, as they were repeatedly concerned by punctures.

Anyway, the sport aspect during the Transalp comes only second for the father of two. “The outstanding aspect of the Tour is the landscape and the feeling to cycle together with like-minded people on closed off roads over such a long track”, he explains. It was extraordinary to do nothing, but eating, sleeping and cycling for a whole week. The amateur race going this year from Sonthofen to Arco at Lake Garda is not only a physical challenge for Zedler; the humane aspect is also very important to him. As in the teams of two team spirit and thoughtfulness are necessary to successfully stand the stresses and strains. “Everybody has his off day. And then it is good, when the other one drags you off and supports you”, he says.
Due to a lack of time the preparation for such a race runs for Dirk Zedler more or less alongside. One week TOUR training camp, bicycle commuting every day from his house in Hoheneck to his office in the west end of Ludwigsburg and three-to-four-hour-long cycle tours the week end. This made 6000 kilometres this year until the start of the race at the beginning of July. In his opinion this must do.

For Zeder who comes from the Eastern Alb and chose Ludwigsburg as his adoptive city this will certainly not have been the last tour across the Alps. “It somehow feels, as if I would say next year let’s do it again…”, he says.

Three times above 2500 metres

This year Transalp starts on June 28 from Sonthofen through Austria and South Tyrol and ends on July 4 in Arco at Lake Garda. The stages were 91 to 180 kilometres long with a total distance of 882 kilometres and 18366 altitude metres. Crossing Timmelsjoch, Stilfserjoch and Gavia meant three times climbing above 2500 altitude metres during the tour.

Author: Jürgen Schmidt

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