Lux Insider of The Month – Monique Dekker

This century will be most recognised for redefining the concept of innovation and luxury experience. Braving the terrain and weather during a triathlon wouldn’t exactly be deemed as part of a luxurious lifestyle in the past, however, today many take adventure as their luxurious passion. They stretch their limits and test their endurance with the best of class equipment and bikes to experience what many would give a miss. We are happy to have one such personality as our Lux Insider for the month of June – Monique Dekker, General Manager at Park Hyatt Vienna

Monique Dekker - General Manager Park Hyatt Vienna
Monique Dekker – General Manager Park Hyatt Vienna

Born in Netherlands, her contribution to Hyatt Hotels goes back 18 years across continents where she rose to being a general manager of a prestigious and heritage property in Vienna. Park Hyatt occupies a listed 100-year-old building that forms part of Vienna’s First District, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. What use to be a historic bank has now been converted into a luxury hotel. Its historical design has been winning accolades as one of the best design hotels in Europe. It has been listed by Robb Report and Conde Nast Traveller as the Top Hotels of the World in 2015. Monique Dekker has been leading the hotel to win awards and hearts of its leisure and business travellers whilst nurturing her love for adventure. She is an avid athlete and has participated in the Ironman Championships worldwide within a decade. Her passion for this adventurous lifestyle knows no bounds and as the Lux Insider of the Month, she takes over to share her experiences and tips on the Cervelo Triathlon Bike that she rides during the championships. Over to Monique Dekker…

Swim, Ride, Run Repeat

Welcome to yet another feature of the Lux Insider and I am pleased to share some of my thoughts and experiences about the triathlon bike as well as the sport I am so passionate about. It was back in 2001 when my husband and I started doing triathlons in Chicago. A colleague challenged me to participate in the world famous Mrs T’s Chicago triathlon. I did it thinking “If I can swim 500 m, I can swim 1500m; if I can ride a bike for 20 km, I can ride it for 40 km and can run a couple of kilometers along the lake”. I did not realize then that even though triathlon has 3 disciplines, the sport of triathlon should be seen as one sport where the domino effect prevails on your performance. To put it simply, what you do in each segment has significant influence in your performance in the next discipline. Being able to run 10km without walking does not mean you can do the same after swimming and biking. I did somehow finish that race and was hooked right away.

From there on the goal was to get faster and get to longer distance races. After about two years of training, we decided to sign up for Ironman Florida. The experience of Ironman Florida leaves behind several memories that last forever. I vividly remember a 150K summer training ride in Northern Illinois where we came off the bike after a few hours so totally shattered that we both had to lay down in the shade for an hour to be able to function again. We looked at each other and both said simultaneously “And now we have to run a marathon?????” Another memory is my strong desire to celebrate finishing the Ironman by doing a cartwheel over the finish line, but I had taken in too many salt tablets during the race causing my hands to swell to twice their normal size: a cartwheel was out of the question. Another memory was feasting after the race on everything we had deprived ourselves off for months: wine, beer, potato chips, coke, coffee, junk food…..and the muscle ache, ouch that hurt for days! Finishing Ironman Florida in 2004 still to this day, helps me in my daily life. Both in my private as well as my professional life I often think: I am an Ironman… I can do this too.

Wheels of Innovation

P2_5800___0000_Rear34_DS
Image Courtesy : Cervelo P 2 Triathlon and Time Trial

In the early 2000’s Cervelo was one of the first bike brands to implement the idea that aerodynamics and fit are more important than weight in a triathlon. They revolutionized the sport of triathlon and time trials (in road cycling events like the Tour de France) with their innovative designs creating a much improved and more comfortable time trial position while being extremely aerodynamic. I was very intrigued with its innovation when I first learned about this brand. These technical specifications and precision drove me towards it.

Talent or Engineering

Many people wish to understand if it is the equipment that makes all the difference to win a triathlon. Well, I’d like to clarify that it is the athlete, talent and immense hard work that achieves championships. But the advantage of riding an incredibly comfortable time trial bike coupled with innovative aerodynamics and speed is that allows you to transition into running relatively smoothly. The bike accentuates your performance but it is your endurance and talent that will help you win the race. I will save you the deep dive into engineering, but the key aerodynamic features of Cervelo bikes have been imitated by all major bike brands. I love how my bike is both super fast, stable and agile, while providing me a position on the bike that can be adjusted to fit my personal preferences. Most other brands have one, or several of these features, but very few have all and that is where the original stands out. 

P for Triathlon

P5_360_0006_Angle 2
Image Courtesy : Cervelo P 5 Triathlon and Time Trial

Cervelo has a range of bikes for various purposes and the P-Series is their triathlon or Time Trial range. Your budget and requirement will determine which of the P-series should you invest in. The key difference in speed will still be determined by your talent and willingness to work hard. My personal favourite is the P5, but have to admit this is largely due to the bling factor, I am fairly certain it would be just as fast as a P3 or P2. I recommend you choose the one that suits your needs. For those who wish to understand how does one take up the sport of triathlon or biking, I would honestly say it comes from within. I can’t speak for others, but for me: as a child in Holland we’d always ride our bicycles everywhere, this is in our DNA. I have always liked cycling and will continue to do so as long as I physically can. 

Austrian Insider

Wien Woods

I live in the picturesque land of Austria and yes the Alpine region is a great adventure in itself but not for Time Trial bikes. Bikes like Cervelo are not ideal for cycling in the mountains. Body Weight is distributed differently on a Time Trial bike placing more weight on the handlebars than on a road or mountain bike. For biking in the mountains, we typically use road bikes. When it comes to cycling I prefer cycling on flatter stretches, there is an amazing bike path along the Danube river that goes on forever. But my husband loves the hills and mountains so I regularly follow him on his rides through the Vienna Woods that are peppered with mean climbs and descents. When cycling in the higher Alpine region, make sure to always bring bad weather gear as the weather can change unexpectedly. I got a hard lesson in this during an Ironman 70.3 race in Zell am See (in the Austrian mountains) where from one day to the next temperatures dropped from 30 C to below 10 C and we had pouring rain all day. I was woefully unprepared and have never been so cold! Finishing that race though is one of my biggest accomplishments. 

Training on Time Trial

When you purchase a Time Trial bike, a good retailer will definitely instruct you on how to use the bike, you don’t need a school for it. If you can ride a bike, you can ride any bike. That said, I do recommend that you join a triathlon club when you start out in the sport. There is nothing like the support of experienced triathletes for advice and taking away the nervousness for a first race. The biggest challenge for most is to get used to using racing pedals! 

Wheel Upgrade

I love the look and sound of a disc wheel. However, you have to be really fast to enjoy the benefit of a disc wheel. If you’re not very fast, a disc will unfortunately only slow you down. I do not have dreams about being a champion in triathlon. I love the sport, but I am not nearly fast enough to think about winning. For me finishing the races and soaking up the camaraderie at the races gives me a great way to shut off and relax from a busy work life. My dream would be to have the time and discipline to consistently train on a daily basis to get ready for another Ironman. Hopefully, I can achieve this in the near future. Until then I will enjoy the several other distances.

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