Heavy legs, downpour, but also tears of joy: The Race Across Germany cycling marathon is a unique experience for Stefan Feilen. In the end, he needs 57 hours and 28 minutes for the more than 1,100 km long distance and thus still reaches the finish line in the required time – although he must struggle with difficulties again and again. His ANTELOPE.SUIT plays an important role both before and after the race.
How did the race go for you - have you been more powerful thanks to your ANTELOPE.SUIT?
Stefan: From my values and data, I am very satisfied and would definitely like to continue the cooperation with ANTELOPE. I got the suit this year in February, so I got five months to prepare. Because of the training, I already had a decent increase in performance. I also lost two and a half kilos of weight and built up muscles. But I’m really curious about how it proceeds with a complete preparation over nine or ten months to see what can still be tickled out. I didn’t have any neck or back problems this time either – that used to be extreme in the past.
In preparation for Race Across Germany, Stefan was able to significantly increase his FTP value. This indicates the maximum power in watts that an athlete can produce on average in one hour.
How did the Race Across Germany make you feel for you compared to previous competitions?
Stefan: The race is actually no comparison to all the competitions before. It was the hardest thing I’ve ridden so far. Even if I think about 2019, when I was at the Paris-Brest-Paris cycling marathon. That’s another 100 kilometers more, but the Race Across Germany is more demanding. The altitude meters are completely different and extremely challenging. I have also never ridden such a long distance with a support crew, just unsupported before. Nevertheless, it went really well – until I crashed after kilometer 250. I saw a bump too late, hit it full on with the front wheel and rolled over.
Was it difficult for you to continue driving after that?
Stefan: No. I was back on the bike after ten minutes. Sure, there’s the thought: “What could have happened?” But you must get rid of that quickly. I had a few abrasions and a bruise on my back. The saddle on the bicycle itself was broken, which I didn’t realize at first. After a few hours, however, it became noticeable on my backside. (laughs)
What else was challenging for you?
Stefan: The first night after the crash was really bad. I drove through until half past two. I had to fight a lot with fatigue. And I was really, really cold because it rained for 300 kilometers straight. On the second night, my race bicycle broke down and I had to switch back to my time trial bicycle.
Did you ever think: "I won't be able to do this in the given time"?
Stefan: Not myself. You don’t think much during a cycling marathon anyway – mostly just “hunger, thirst and stupid headwind”. With the crew in the car, there was fear on the last day. They calculated and calculated a lot. But I never thought about giving up.
How did you take care of your muscle recovery after the race?
Stefan: My ANTELOPE.SUIT was definitely a big help. In EMS training, I always felt that hat I would get fit again quickly and not have to struggle so much with muscle soreness even after hard units. That’s why on Monday, before we left, I put on the ANTELOPE EMS suit in the morning and turned on the massage program to slowly loosen up the muscles. In 2019, after Paris, I couldn’t ride my bike for six weeks because of problems with my back and joints. In addition, my Achilles tendon was inflamed. This time, I was already back on the bike a week later for a loose session. My recovery is ongoing, though, even though the race was over ten days ago. My hands are still numb.
Despite the resistance: Would you participate in the Race Across Germany again?
Stefan: The registration is already out. I want to get under 50 hours next year. This year we had 50 hours 22 minutes riding time and almost 7 hours standing time. There is definitely still something to get out of it!
What was your personal highlight of the race?
Stefan: 70 kilometers before Garmisch, my best friend and his partner were standing on the track. He came all the way down 500 kilometers from Trier. When they were waiting at the finish line, that was a real highlight. I was crying my eyes out.
In preparation for the race, Stefan completed six training sessions a week. Always with him: his ANTELOPE SUIT.
“I have been training with a training program for a long time, but with the ANTELOPE EMS suit you can really tickle out a lot more.”
Ultra distance racing cyclist