Vidraru MTB Challenge

1 Jul

Or even better said, how it was the longest marathon, this year.

86km, 2400m of ascent and 4:24:46 of riding into the wild.

For me was the first time racing here even though the event is at his 7th edition. I’ve heard good things about it and overall was fun, but for sure there are some things that organizers can improve. This was the second stages of the Romanian XCM Cup.

Went in Arefu on Saturday with Georgian, Florin and Istvan. 6h of driving on busy roads. Still the view on Valea Oltului road was amazing. We’ve picked up our starting packages and went (almost) straight up for a ride to check the first part of the course, from Arefu to Vidraru dam. I have stopped just a couple of turns because of the wild bears on the side of the road. I think I saw about 4. This was the first time ever seeing this beautiful creatures and for sure I was kinda afraid because I didn’t knew how they would react. But these bears were simply waiting for food I guess and stupid people were giving them snacks, bread and other stuff for a quick IG shot, instead of minding their own businesses.

Quick nice dinner, bikes getting ready, preparing the gels and bars and straight of to sleep.

In the morning I think I was pretty nervous about the race because I didn’t knew how the legs will go after a long heavy block. Started pretty preciously because on the road we had 2 (pretty) long tunnels that didn’t had any kind of lightening system. The first one was on the road and there was a major crash behind me. The second was on off-road and I hit hard with the left foot a rock. I could have crashed too but… lucky me, I guess.

I kept a steady tempo keeping the pace that I was comfortable with, no matter what. I think that I could have pushed harder on the longest climb (about 20km with 1000m of ascent) but now I know for the future races.

I’ve stopped 4 times at the feedzones just to refill the bottles, grab a quick snack and dump the empty gel bags. During this race I’ve saw that there still are dumb-ass-so-called-racers that are still throwing their garbage somewhere else (preferably) far from the side of the road. Do not litter and please respect the nature. In the end, the marshals got more reports and he was disqualified, the obvious and normal thing to do. I hope that this is a lesson for everyone else. As long as you can carry a few gels and bars on the course, you can also put the empty packing until the first feed zone and drop it in the garbage bag. It’s that easy as it sounds.

Getting back to the feedzones. They were pretty well organized and the staff out there helped me pretty quick (mostly). If the main part of the course was mainly pretty fast, the last part was mostly up and down with heavier climbs, but manageable. The last descent was pretty scary, because the paths were washed away from the previous days rains but in the end I’ve finished, let’s say decently. 10th at Elite, getting more points for the overall standing.

I can and I will do better.

Now regarding the organization of the race.

Good things:

  • The registration at the race office went really quick
  • The course was really nice, even though it didn’t had to many tech features
  • Helpful volunteers
  • Nice overall atmosphere.

Things to improve:

  • Wobbling between registration fee price isn’t very professional ( It had a price, than it got higher, than it was lowered again).
  • Some lights in those long two tunnels at the start of the course would be great to avoid future accidents.
  • Maybe some confirmation marks on high speed roads after crossing a junction, because sometimes you simply can not look on your GPS.
  • The after race food, would be nice to be … food, because the pasta we’ve got was simply uneatable. See for yourselves.
  • The QR code on the race number is useless because in most photos you can not even see the number.
  • Respecting the award ceremony program, as some of us had a 6h trip back home and a 1.5h delay wasn’t really helpful.

✔ My final grade for this year’s Vidraru MTB Challenge is 6/10. And that’s a good one, trust me.

Many thanks to everyone behind me involved: my family, sponsors, friends. None of us is as good as all of us.

See you in a couple of weeks at the XCO National Championship where I hope to reach the peak of the season.



Photo credits: Radu Diaconescu, Cristina Ivanov, Vidraru MTB Challenge 🙏

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