Zell-am See, Austria 🇦🇹
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus
What a difference a year makes. Austria and Zell-am See 12 months ago was baking in the mid-thirties in August.
This year it was somewhat different. A wild wet Saturday morning transitioned into “summer storms” overnight that graced the hill-tops with snow and dropped freezing rains across the valleys.
A snow line not only appeared, but it dropped to just a few hundred meters above the lake (Zeller See), making the prospect of a climb up over an 1800m col on a TT bike, with only summer race kit to hand, a whole new challenge. And if I’m honest, I was a little apprehensive: I was going to freeze my butt (and hands, feet, face etc) off.
Arriving at transition, we joined a group of athletes who were, unusually, just milling around. Then the announcement, that the bike leg had been cancelled. It’s hard to describe that mix of disappointment and relief. Yet there were athletes audibly cursing the weather or their bad luck. There was still a race however and I had now been enrolled in a very long aquathlon.
By the time we’d finished our swim-run on Sunday afternoon, blue skies and glistening “winter peaks” were beginning to appear. Transition had been transformed from cold wet rains of the morning.
This return to summer continued through Sunday evening into Monday and Tuesday. So when we looked out the window on Monday morning and blue skies smiled down on us, it wasn’t hard to grab a map, hop on our bikes, and then go find some valleys to explore.
It’s easy to be disappointed at a cancelled bike leg. But the local attitude is one of respecting the mountains; considering the health and wellbeing of the athletes; and, just as importantly, the safety of the volunteers who give of their time to make sporting events like this happen.
While we train hard for sporting events, they are supposed to be fun, safe, and for some like me, a chance to explore a new location.
On reflection, yesterday the lake was warm for the swim, the run was dry, and the Swim-Run was still a challenge – and something very new!
Besides, Zell is a beautiful town, which I got to enjoy with Tri Club friends, and no-one suffered at the hands of a treacherous bike leg. Monday, the sun was shining, and plans were being made for the next adventure. For all the complaints they get, Ironman offered the athletes a €100 voucher off their next event through 2018-2019. I chose a race in a country I’ve not yet visited: Poland (Gdynia 70.3).
The adventure continues.