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ULTRA Bike Marathon 2024 (12 to 14 July) in Kirchzarten - Matthias Bettinger has already been "at the start" 16 times
The numbers speak for themselves: Matthias Bettinger has competed 16 times at the Black Forest ULTRA Bike Marathon in Kirchzarten so far, and it has been an intimate, passionate relationship for years: "Even as a child, I stood at the track and cheered on Mike Kluge, the winner of the first two years. It's a childhood dream of mine to be part of this,"says Bettinger. The dream came true, even more, the 39-year-old triumphed several times. Bettinger has won the Power Track (80 km), which was held from 2006 to 2019, four times in a row and once the ULTRA Long Distance (116 km) in 2012. "The ULTRA Bike is the absolute highlight for me every year, there are always a lot of friends at the track. It's a huge advantage to have such a well-organised race on our doorstep."

Bettinger, who competes for the Singer team, says: "I always rode my bike from my home in Breitnau to the power track start in Hinterzarten in the morning. I was able to fix everything in peace at home, then rolled easily for a quarter of an hour and was able to warm up a bit."

Every year, the marathon specialist, as well as thousands of hobby mountain bikers, is faced with the question of how to control my training in the months leading up to the race so that I am at my best on the ULTRA Bike in Kirchzarten. March and April are the months to build up a good base in the basic endurance area. Bettinger recommends long sessions of several hours adapted to the level of performance,"but in which you should always incorporate quick, intense stimuli". The closer race day gets, "the shorter and more intensive the sessions become." The intensity of training can be increased with various programs. "20 seconds of exertion, 20 seconds of recovery" is a variation that Bettinger likes to insert into his training program, as well as the strength-oriented, ten-minute cranking on the hill with a thick gear. Several intervals of three- or five-minute exercise followed by active recovery are also efficient for form building. In this phase, basic endurance can be maintained with one or two longer sessions per week. A big mistake is to want to catch up on what you missed in the week before the competition and to train too much. "In the week before the start, you should maintain the tension in your muscles with a few targeted units, but otherwise the following applies: "The strength lies in rest," says Bettinger. The family man bases the training around his daily work: In the morning, he cycles the 45 kilometres to his employer in Schwenningen – and then back home again. After work, there is the opportunity to expand the round as you please.

By the way, the cheapest entry fee for the ULTRA Bike event is valid until the end of February. More than 700 mountain bikers, among www.ultra-bike.de, have already registered for the 24th edition of the classic on 14 July. There are four routes to choose from: Ultra (118 km/3509 m elevation gain), Marathon (81 km/2250 elevation gain), Speed Track (54 km/1288 elevation gain) and Short Track (46 km/943 elevation gain).
New is the Hero series classification, which the ULTRA Bike forms with the Hero Südtirol Dolomites (Italy) on 15 June and the Iron Bike Race in Einsiedeln in Switzerland on 22 September. 15000 Euro prize money underlines the importance of the new, international marathon racing series. In order to be included in the ranking, the long-distance races of each of the three events must be completed.

However, competitions are not for everyone. For all those who do not want to expose themselves to time pressure, ULTRA Bike Race Director Sebastian Eckmann and Managing Director Britta Schreiber, together with the Organizing Committee, are currently working on a variant that focuses on the pure experience of moving around on two wheels in the nature of the southern Black Forest, as well as the convivial atmosphere. More information will be available soon.

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