Daniel on cycling around Austria

Planning is crucial for arranging training sessions around work and life. With his goal always in mind – racing – Daniel breaks down how he comes up with a training schedule and why a lack of motivation is never an issue.

What does your practice routine look like?

I usually train during the week after work for about two to three hours. On weekends the training day starts right after breakfast, which is normally muesli, and is usually a rather extensive ride of three to six hours. After training, I enjoy a healthy meal and then analyse my performance. Most of the time I ride on my own, but from time to time I join a group of cyclists or I team up with a friend for a session.

What are your favourite routes and places for cycling?

There are so many beautiful places to cycle. In spring I prefer the bumpy terrain of the Allgäu region (Germany) for long rides of lower intensity. The area in and around Appenzell (Switzerland) with short climbs of low gradients is great to work on intervals and mountain ascents. And in the summer months nothing compares to tackling alpine passes. There are beautiful ones near my hometown ore even more stunning ones in Switzerland – for instance, in the area around Andermatt. A true paradise for cyclists! The Dolomites (South Tyrol) are also fascinating if you want to cover some great elevation profiles.

Winter is the hardest time. As long as the roads are free from snow and ice, the temperatures are above 0°C and no rain is forecasted I am okay riding outdoors on weekends. If the conditions are too bad I swap my bike for cross country skiing or work out on my indoor training tool. For this I simply mount my road bike onto a rack. However, for someone who loves to be outdoors this is very boring! So I always end up placing the rack in front of the TV.

How did you get into sport and your specific routine?

I’ve always loved sport, even at school. And I was quickly drawn into sports that focus on endurance. Initially, I started with running. This is how I discovered that my endurance performance had great potential. However, after a while I got bored with running and I got a mountain bike – which every cool kid had at that time. At the beginning I only used it for riding to school though.

When I was fourteen, I joined my dad on a mountain bike ride. It was quite a big tour and in the end I was completely exhausted, but it was great fun. I loved being outdoors and discovered my passion for speed. But I didn’t really enjoy riding on gravel and, to be honest, the fact that my dad was a lot faster and better trained than me was also hard to bear. So I started riding more regularly and saw that the increased training paid off, because my performance improved steadily. Since I switched to cycle on roads instead of gravel I decided to buy a road bike. At the age of fifteen I finally became fully aware of my passion for road cycling.

How regular are you working out, how do you plan your trainings ahead?

During the week, I normally train two to three times after work. On weekends more or less every Saturday and Sunday.

Every year, at the beginning of the outdoor season in March, I start establishing a training plan. I select the races that I would like to participate in over the year and start creating a more detailed plan with different phases, including recovery, preparation and actual races for the course of the whole season. At the beginning of every week I try to draw up a detailed plan for the upcoming days, depending on the weather forecast and the available time.

For the winter time I do not really draw up a training plan. The big goal is simply to stay in shape by doing some kind of endurance sport regularly.

Why sport?

For me there are three main reasons. The first is simply being outdoors, breathing fresh air, feeling the sun and the wind and to discover new roads and places. The second reason is training my body. I love to push my own limits and constantly raise them through training. Doing sport means being healthy to me. The third reason is racing. Participating in races means meeting lots of like-minded and passionate people. Plus it is fun competing against others. It’s very motivating to know that I can beat other riders on a climb or in a sprint on the finishing line. On the other hand it pushes me to train harder when I get beaten by others.

How do you stay motivated?

For me it is not difficult to stay motivated and focused at all, because I have clear goals in mind. My aim is to finish every race in a decent but realistic time. That’s why I stick to my training plan religiously and don’t let any self-doubt arise like „why do I need to ride for five hours at 0°C?“ or „Is the fourth interval really necessary despite me being already exhausted?” The only reason for my motivation to drop would be really bad weather or when I pushed myself too far in training.

For me it is not difficult to stay motivated and focused at all because I have clear goals in mind.

What are your thoughts before, during and after your practice?

Before training, I usually plan the route very carefully and depending on its length and difficulty decide on the amount of food and drinks required.

During a ride I am concentrated on my performance by constantly monitoring my heart rate, power level and speed. It is also important to check the road ahead to detect possible obstacles, such as broken pieces of glass, stones, cars, pedestrians, animals or other cyclists. Depending on the intensity of the training session my thoughts may vary though. I might be thinking about work related issues. Sometimes I think about a song or how long it will take me to reach the peak of the mountain. However, often I simply enjoy the beautiful views and appreciate being outdoors.

After training I am looking forward to a hot or cold shower and a nice meal.

Picture: sportograf.com

How is cycling influencing your daily life?

A lot! There is always the question how and when I can fit training sessions around my full-time job and all the other commitments that I have. It is not always easy and quite often it is necessary to set priorities.

Would you say you are competitive when it comes to sport? And in general?

Yes, definitely – when it comes to sport, but also in general.

Anything particularly positive or negative you would like to share?

I think I‘ve mentioned all the positive things already. The negative thing I have to mention is that some car drivers overtake bikes absolutely carelessly – sometimes with less than half a metre distance between the car and the rider, and that even when there is a turn coming up. This is so dangerous for everyone involved, as they put the life of the cyclist, their own and the life of others at risk. My appeal to all car drivers is to allow for at least one and a half metres distance between the cyclist and the car!

What was your most memorable moment?

The most memorable moment was definitely my first ride with my very first road bicycle.

Which races did you participate in?

The most recent one was the Ötztaler Radmarathon in August 2017 where I finished with a time of 8:44h. (Check out our Interview with Maria, who also competed in that race.)

Other races include:

Moreover, I definitely prefer riding uphill. It is important for me that a race has a significant elevation profile. Ideally the race shouldn’t be too far away from my hometown either. Normally the races are on Sundays allowing me to drive home afterwards and be ready for work on Monday.

If you weren’t into cycling what would you be doing instead?

I guess I’d be playing drums in a band instead. My band started becoming more professional around the same time I discovered my passion for riding as a teenager. I quickly realized though that it would be impossible to do both things properly at the same time.

In five key words summarise the best things about your training:

  • being healthy
  • discovering new places and streets
  • keeping a good work-life-balance
  • being outdoor
  • meeting people with the same passion

Your favourite motivational quote?

Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.

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