Saturday, 23 May 2015

Neckarhalde

Some snaps taken in and around my local pool, the Neckarhalde. Despite being 75 years old one of the best 50 meter outdoor pools around.










Thursday, 21 May 2015

shoeporn: Haglöfs - Gram Comp II

In February 2014 I had the chance to practise with one of Haglöfs initial trail running shoes – the so-called Gram XC (LINK). Immediately I was charmed by the characteristic quality, light weight, varied functioning as well as the unique chic. Now, a mere of a year later, Scandinavia’s major seller of outdoor equipment is back with an improved version – the Gram Comp II.

In July 2010 Asics bought Sweden's Haglöfs and a good bit of Japanese knowledge can be found in the current shoe. A visible sign for Asics involvement is the sole. It is hard to overlook the "Sound Mind, Sound Body" famed symbol. The sole of the Gram Comp II is made out of a material called AHAR+, which stands for “Asics High Abrasion Resistance Rubber”. The rubber they used with this shoe is pretty versatile. I used the first model on the roads but mostly on trails. I did the same with the Gram Comp II and I found the performance and the variety of qualities to be even further improved. The qualities of this shoe matched my needs for daily training pretty much impeccable. As I run a range of easy and wide forest alleyways, a good portion of rocky and technical trails as well as simple paved roads, Haglöfs featherweight in the running shoe collection, seems to be a jack-of-all-trades.

Initially made for trails, containing a proper Rock Protection plate that protects the foot against rocks and branches, the shoe is also pretty comfortable on the road. The nicely designed cushion gives a good feel. Tempo Runs and even a track workout (...as I forgot my flats at home) were handled pretty effectively. A big seller to me is the weight of 26g. Together with the proper cushioning this is something not to overlook for a daily training shoe and even for a great trai racing shoe on moderate not to technical terrain. The grip oft he sole is good but during rocky terrain it needs some experience to guide the blue Swede around the passages.

Not only because of the matchless glance this shoe should not be ignored. With the second episode of the Gram series Haglöfs made the jump and shaped a truly great running shoe. Following the noble presentation of the former models I thought this was hard to top. They did it by improving the frameworks, striking skinny tongue, a lightweight midsole infused with the Solyte technology as well as the minimal stitch count that ensures a suave upper.

Haglöfs, what are you going to improve with the next shoe?

All-rounder - off the beaten path or on the street.

Wet Grip Rubber with rice husk for improved grip in wet conditions.

The orange Asics Fell Racer wet grip sole.

Water repellent structured polyester

More Asics knowledge - GEL rearfoot cushioning

Scandinavian Styler

Wet Grip Rubber - trail grip and compfy on the road.

Just looking good.

Distinctive style that sticks out.
Tune of the day: MoTrip - Mathematik

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Racereport 2015-06/07: Summer Biathlon Hüffenhardt & Trollinger Marathon Relay

It advertised certain excitement. Racing the mountainbike, running and firing. Yes. Gunfire.

That doesn’t sincerely add up. I had the same opinions but I liked the hint of summer biathlon. Although I enjoy seeing the winter races I was always wondering how it feels to really snipe and to fire while having a high-pitched pulse. Per accident I noticed that there is a local series, which offers about 4 races during the summertime. Riding the mountainbike while shooting twice in between was the stance. Doing the same with running a couple of ours later filled the day with some new know-how and the conclusion that this shooting thing is pretty tough.

Indeed I cannot really remember the last time I was holding a gun. My shooting practise in that kind of races was merely down to 5 practice shots before the MTB leg. The whole story is told pretty fast. I rode OK but I shot horrendous and found myself around the “circle of embarrassment” numerous times. I ran OK but the firing was even more dreadful and I managed to have the poorest slaying grade out of all the competitors. Seeing that this carried me right down to the results board gave me a good perception on how it must feel when the “real” Biathletes combat it out in the wintertime. I won’t be working my assassination but I’ll try to get some more of these contests in. Totally fun and a new dimension to the sport.

While the shooting thing was fun and without any pressure, Sundays relay competitions that was held alongside the infamous Trollinger Marathon around my hometown was kind of a biggie. Some work training buddies and I decided to race it last year. We had a lot of fun and won the whole thing. So this year we had the burden of title defence.

I was called in for the 13k middle piece and got the baton with about 30 seconds cushion to the “Audi-Team”. Subsequently around 3k their runner caught me on one of the windy stretches and he merely was too fast for my SwimRunning legs today. I sticked with him for a bit but ultimately I had to let him go and had a rainy battle on my own with the breeze. Our last man couldn’t catch their final dude either. So we came in with a contentedly 2nd place. Still a lot of fun and banter.

Picture Credit: Jonas Fischer

Picture Credit: Jonas Fischer

Saturday's Biathlon Start.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

tested: Norrøna - fjørå flex1 Shorts & aero100 Jacket

It is time to transcribe something about the newest fjørå clothing by Norrøna. I received plenty of inquiries and mails about this particular mountain bike clothing lately.

To answer all the questions precisely, I have to say that (again) Norrøna knows how to make stylish but highly efficient gear. I had the chance to ride the flex1 Shorts as well as the aero100 Jacket through mud, rain and wind and became a big fan.

Why? Because it is the faultless combination of hardwearing but light materials as well as the distinctive cut that makes you feel endangered at any time. A great companion for daily training trips as you can sense the attributes and the thoughts that went into this line. All adding up with the one-of-a-kind Norrøna style. What more can you ask for?

 A stylish match. The fjørå flex1 Shorts with the aero100 Jacket.

Fjørå is a part of the eastern Norddal, a municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway.

Great venting options on the sides. I liked the long side zippers on the flex1 Shorts. Great flexibility!

Proper front pockets that fit money, phone or a GoPro.

A tiny feature that sticks out on every Norrøna product I used - Extremely stress-free zippers. Easy to use while riding.

Shinning star. The blue and green of the aero100 Jacket go well together.

Functional Mountain bike clothing doesnt need to look boring.

Viking is watching.

The practical back pocket of the aero 100 jacket. You can store light stuff or wrap the jacket in it.

Windproof and highly breathable - Quality Workmanship straight outta Hvalstad.

Proper style. Well played on the colours.

The fjørå line in it's expected milieu.

Tough as wood.

No compromise. Just style!

Tune of the day: eMC - The Monologue

Monday, 11 May 2015

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Racereport 2015-05: Trail du Hohrodberg

It already was a competition before the actual race. The negligible race website just showed a vague map of the route. No major municipality or key landmark close by. It might be my inexistent skills in French language, but it reminded me a bit of my Irish fell running times as I felt a lost along those blustery and petite country boulevards. Despite all the technical treats, it was good to check that I’m still skilled to read a map and, like back in Ireland, can recognise fellow racers and track their car down to the venue. Finally I arrived on site with enough time to spare.

Like most of the years I was in the French region of Alsace to hang out at a friends house and celebrate the bank holiday. Discovering a race in the Vosges is not too tough. As the trail running explosion is not new to France, the scene is energetic and delivers enough chances to roll the feet around these picturesque part of the “Grande Nation”.

The sun hasn’t been seen o'er here for a good few days. Drizzle or rains were the key ingredients of the weather report - a well-preserved outfit for some proper trail dashing. Just as an additional cloud transported more water, the mob got ready on a soaked grass turf on top of the “Col du Wettstein”. The lively horde turned soundless as the marshal counted down. Then the contest was off towards the woodlands that were partially hidden in scenic, deep floppy smokes. After a couple of meters the track curved towards the primary single trail. Hectic all around as the fight for positions got underway. A long stretch towards the top of the mount separated the competition and after excited encounters the first clusters were formed.

The deep woods in the rural Vosges region are just made for that kind of running action. An extensive system of single footpaths and tight forest alleyways make up for a scenery that can undoubtedly host so many suitable trail contests. Despite other “Trail” competitions this race was run on actual, proper trails. Looking back, a total of 300 meters were run on paved roads. The rest was pure bliss as the path was winding past technical, rocky, slippy and narrow natural trail. The spectacular weather and the magnificent surrounding added a lot towards the technical side, which was great distraction. Surfing around the puddles on the steep downhill’s and rolling sections was cool. Again my LaSportiva Helios served to be the best partner for this kind of races. Its good to know that there is grip when you go downhill with top speed.

Knowing that I’m missing the longer training runs recently, the race got tougher and tougher the further I ran. Accumulating to the fatigue I got confronted with long, steep uphill’s in the second portion of the route. I had to dig deep and lost a good few places on the grinds upwards. As I trolled down the last hill after a mere of 23 kilometres and 755 meters of climbing, I felt pretty worn-out but pleased getting to experience a course like this. This is what I would call trail running. Very well marked route, humble but efficient organization and a very friendly but competitive field.





Picture Credit: Arnaud Wagner
Picture Credit: Arnaud Wagner

Tune of the day: Denyo - Elbtunnelblick