Donnerstag, 13. Dezember 2007

That has been 2007, but I still have to do one ride this year

The months pass by and cycling and other activities were low. Regarding cycling I think I should do at least one bigger ride this year. 100km will be enough, but the weather is shabby and time is short...

But since the year is on its edge I should do a short review and draw a quintessence of this year - cycling wise.

Well, in the beginning of the year I heard the first time about randonuering. I decided to do that myself.
I started my rides in March, after the first longer ride since a long time I started the qualifiction brevets (BRM) for Paris-Brest-Paris.
The first BRM (200km) was hard.
The second BRM (300km) was much better.
I improved my equipment a lot.
The third BRM (400) km was gorgeous (I will not forget that lovely xycling during the night with the full moon and total silence - great!), but hard (I used that BRM for nutrition experiments)
The fourth BRM (600) km I failed. It started really nice, but after some hours the weather turned awfully bad and I abandoned. Until this brevet the weather was brilliant. After this brevet the weather didn't sustainable recover the entire summer.
I repeated the 600 km BRM some weeks later and finished it in about 34.5 hours.
After that I did a vacation in Italy and rode abot 1000km along the Adria.
Fitness was good in mid August when Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) was scheduled.
But during PBP the luck was not entirely with me and I didn't rode the entire distance, but unly 3/4 of the route. Anyway, it was great and I rate it a personal success.
Since PBP I did only two ~100-120 km rides for fun.

All in all I think it was quite a success, not finishing PBP was a bit sad, but I was quite close. Randonneuring developed to be not only a flash in the pan, but something that will last, that I will continue.
Anyway looking forward to 2008 now. That year will bring some changes and I will post my plans in early January.

Freitag, 31. August 2007

I was singing in the rain

Oh, it has been wet. It has been so awfully wet!.
That is really the most important and lasting impression from PBP.
Also it is to note, that I only rode 918km and not the entire
distance. This was mostly due to some healthy problems, but the
weather and some technical issues (my gear shifter cable broke and I
had to go more than 80 km without a working shifter) wre not really
helpful. But anyway, I got the taste of PBP. Loving it and hating it
was so close together. And I learned a lot about fighting against
sleep. When you have nobody to talk with it is okay to just sing to
keep you awake. Surprisingly that works not too bad. So I was singing
in the rain...
It has been quite some experience.
Maybe 2011 I'll repeat that, but luckily that is not to decide today,
but in four years.

I wrote a German report about my ride at my website

Donnerstag, 16. August 2007

Getting off to Paris

The countdown for PBP is close to zero now! Slowly I am geting nervous and
excited. The weatherforcasts shape up a bit for the ride. Currently
the forecast is announcing wind from northern directions, rather low temperatures,
rare sun, but also rare rain. If it keeps like that it'll be fine.
Most important is *no* thunderstorms!!

Many PBP veterans are reporting you won't come back as the guy you left. I am wondering what these changes might be. I'll see.

Also I like to thank all supporters who had warm words or such. I
appreciate that. If you want to track me during the ride you can do so
on - search
for frame number 3642. Also if you like to send me some warm words
during the ride you're welcome to send sms to my mobile.

All things are packed, bike is okay. I'll leave tomorrow to get a car and will go to Paris on Sunday. If everything works out the way I want to, I'll return on Saturday from Paris.


Montag, 13. August 2007

Nice tour along the Adria

It has been a nice tour along the Adria. The distances were not too much, the landscape nice and the weather quite hot. All in all it has been very nice. The training effect is estimated as "good". But the tour was training *and* holiday.
The originally thought route to Croatia and Slovenia was abandonned, the Ferries didn't wanted to transport bicycles. But Italia is nice and now I know the mountains of the Abruzzo.
Now I am looking forward to P-B-P next week and I must confess I am a bit excited!

Freitag, 13. Juli 2007

Vaccation with bike

It is summer vaccation time and again the summer vaccation is with the bike. But this time the tour is not as closed as last year's BCN-NCE or FCO-NCE of 2004 but more open. The flight goes to VCE and leaves again from VCE.
In the meanwhile the bike will cycle to Slovenia (Bohinj - a short hike is planned there) and maybe to Croatia. But this is not known yet, it will be a spontaneous decision. It will be no "eat kilometers" ride, but shall be pure recreation.I hope the weather will be fine and it will be a great time. Will take a lot of photos. See you in August.

Dienstag, 3. Juli 2007


I needed a 2nd chance for the 600 km Brevet and took that chance in Hamburg. The tour went from Hamburg to the Lüneburger Heide via Vorpommern to the Baltic Sea and returned then to Hamburg.
Start was Saturday (23-06-2007) at 7:00, I reached the finish on Sunday (24-06-2007) at 17:20. Pure riding time was something about 24 or 25 hours.
The tour was not too difficult, there were 11 controls, the weather bad but not too bad (on Sunday it was even a bit sunny). Most of the distance I joined a small group of 9 ppl (7 men, 2 women). Their pace was nice to follow, the speed was 27-29 km/h. During the night I really appreciated the group, because they knew the way. Also it was quite nice to have a dinner together with them. We all ate some pasta. I was surprised how easy eating was this time. At evening there was a little dispute how to manage the slipstream-driving. I thought it would be okay if we all agree on one rule and follow that rule strictly then. Well, the rule was not followed strictly...
In the middle of the night we came to a control where a party was running. Quite strange when some tired cyclists who already did a good 300 km and still have to face close to 300km are entering a party scene where the ppl drink and smoke. Most ppl declared us to be stupid or at least nuts - I guess they have a point somehow...
With the progressed night I became a bit tired. But talking with others keeps you awake. Watching the horizon, which never became toatlly dark, helped to stay awake. The rain was annoying, but also good against sleep. The speed got reduced.
A bit before reaching the baltic sea, we had a bit longer break at a control point and I took my first brief sleep of 15 minutes. After this break the group was split up and I rode mostly alone or in loose conjunction together with some other guy. But he was a tad faster than me, so we fell apart several times, but met at the controls again.
A while before I was a bit disappointed by reaching the Baltic Sea: The control was at some nice hotel and I thought of meeting th erest of the group again and taking a good breakfast there, having beautiful views of early sun over the sea. But the hotel offered no breakfast at that early time and instead of sun it was raining. What a pity - it could have been so nice... I just left that place w/o waiting for the others, having a small breakfast at the next town and coninue to Plön.
The day came and the last 200km were progressing rather slowly, I took another short 10 min sleep in a bus stand which was surprisingly refreshing.
Then the rain stoped and the weather bettered. Together with my cycle mate of these last 200 km we took a wrong way at somewhere behind Plön, lost a lot of time and gained some additional kilometers. But the way was nice.
About noon I got really tired and took my third brief sleep in another bus stand and was happy to realize that the distance left was less than 100km. I mobilized last energies and went on. This time alone. At the last control I met my cycle mate from the last 150km again. He and three others were there for a while already, I just took a quick drink and the last kilometers we rode together again.
At the finish us 5 "superrandonneurs" (four men, one woman) had a big cold beer and some sweets. About an hour after we reached the finish the rest of the group (the one I was going with earlier) reached the finish as well. I was quite surprised that they were still behind me and we all gave us gratulations to be "superrandonneurs" now. Then after about one and a half hour I left that place to return to my staying place and was happy to take a shower.
Hope to see them all in Paris.

Some notes: eating/drinking was okay this time. the dinner was very welcome. Also I ate whenever possible. The energy drinks were good, too. I guess I drank a bit too less, but not much too less.
The route was fairly easy (no big mountains). The brief sleep breaks are surprisingly effective. Anyway, for a longer distance they are not sufficient I guess. A real sleep break of a couple of hours will be good then.
I got some nice support by some nice ppl via sms. This time the ride was not too hard, but when you are dead-tired and have absolutely no energy left, these motivating messages can bring you back into the saddle and push you forward.

I really hope my registration for Paris-Brest-Paris will be successful (well, I am late!) and I am sure it'll be a hard, but great time in France.

Mittwoch, 30. Mai 2007

I failed

Yes, I failed on this 600km brevet. I gave up after a good 100km. It was mostly due to weather conditions, but not only.
The first 75 km went fine, I rode with a group of 6-8 other cyclists and passed the first hills. It was fun to go downhill in the dark on unkown roads with speeds of about 50km/h. After 2 1/2 hours I decided to take a short food break, so I splitted from the group. After eating I heard the first thunder coming closer. There was lightning on the horizon for over an hour already, but it was unclear when I would hit the storm. Well, it was quite short after the break. Just a few km after the food break I had to stop again and put on my rain clothes. Briefly after that the real rain started. On the next village I stopped and thought about waiting to pass by the rain, but decided to go on. Just on the road the weather became really worse. The rain was more than heavy and the thunderstorm was impressive. On a crossroad I stopped and sheltered under a porch for half an hour. When I thought the weather would be better I started again, but then up on the hill, the weather was not better and it was not too comfortable. The last few km took a long time with all those breaks and delays. Reaching Oerlinghausen I took a longer break and waited until the weather became better. I don't know how long exactly I waited, but it was quite some time. And I thought a lot about the risk of cycling during lightning: I guess the risk is not too high, but the next day when I read that three ppl died in eastern Germany that particular saturday, hit by lightning, I thought my decision to wait for the lighning to pass by was good.
When the weather finally became better I started off again, but lost track and drove in a wrong direction for a couple of km. I went back to Oerlinghausen and searched for the right way, I nearly found it (in fact I was still on a slightly wrong route, but with the right destination) and went on to Verl. When I reached Verl it was late already and I thought of giving up. Opportunity was good, I was close to home and giving up now would bring me in bed soon. If going on I had to increase speed, because I had fallen back in time down to an average speed of only 14 km/h already (my average riding speed was still quite good with something a abit more than 25 km/h, but all those delays and the wrong way took their time). While I knew it would not be too difficult to reach the next checkpoint in time, I also calculated that I hadn't too much spare time to do a longer recreational break in the late morning which I guess was needed, because after the morning the more hilly part of the ride would have begun.
Also the latest weather forecast (got it by phone) was not too optimistic for the next day, lot of rain and not too high temperatues.
All in all I decided to break off and try again in some weeks.
The next attempt will be end of June in Hamburg.
I guess it was okay to give up, but on the other hand it would have been great to finish against all these odds. Well, next time...

Mittwoch, 23. Mai 2007

Three days until the 600 km ride

The 600 km brevet is soon. I bought some new grips for my bike, but went for the Ergon GR2L instead of the GX1. Those have some small integrated magnesium endbars which allows to change hand position. With 40 EUR they were reasonable priced.
Furthermore I got some new bike gloves from Roeckl with some special foam. Thus I am quite optimistic to not suffer again on numb hands.

What worries me a bit is the weatherforecast. For saturday evening heavy rain is scheduled. I hope it will turn out to be a wrong forecast.

The other thing I wanted to test and improve since the last brevet is eating. Now I have some isotonic drink powder instead of lemon tea. Also I got some high caloric drinks, originally intended for cancer patients and elderly people, but also good for endurance sports: 200ml contain 300 kcal. i tested one of them last weekend on a small 60km ride, that drink is quite sweet, but easy to swallow. I think the drinks will help to aviod a low energy situation like during the 400 km brevet.

Also I bought a new blue short arm trikot, wa a real bargain: reduced from 45 EUR to 16 EUR!

Mittwoch, 9. Mai 2007

Something about my Equipment

This is about my bike equipment. Most ppl going those ultradistances have a very custom bike. Most bikes are based on racing bikes, but with cahnges. One of the most important changes to generic race bikes is thhat these bikes are equiped for the night: They have light. De facto standard is "Schmidt Oririnal Nabendynamo" (SON). A fine hub dynamo, but it has its price - about 150 EUR. That is over my budget. I try to do the brevets with my budget bike.

It is a speed bike by Bergamont: Bergamont Beluga Speed.
I changed some things to use it daily. I added:
- light weight alu cariers
- fenders by SKG
- a stand
- Cateye Opticube EL300G (front light)
- Sigma Sport Cuberider II (back light)
- Sigma Sport BC 500 cycle computer
- a Trelock BS400 lock (but this is not taken with me while on brevet ;-))

While I prefer for daily usage a genric metal basket for luggage transport I use two rather small bike carrier bags by Agua when abroad. I used one of them for the brevets to take my stuff with me.

Just before the first 200km brevet exchanged the original saddle (Tattoo TT Kevlar) to one by Specialized (Avatar) and replaced the brake shoes (now Shimano Deore BR-M530). The rest of the bike remained unchanged. My clothing was rather normal - I even wore jeans.

For the 300 km ride I improved my clothes. Wore generic biker short trousers with additional leg warmers. Also I bought some long finger bike gloves by Roeckl. While the jeans were okay for the 200km this was definitely better.

After the 300km brevet I changed some compounds on my bike. The tyres were exchanged. The original Schwalbe Speed Cruiser tyres were removed and some Schwalbe Marathon Racer (700x30C) were put on. They are fast, lightweight and robust. Also the pedals were changed to click pedals by Exustar (E-PM82-S). One side of the pedal holds a Shimano SPD compatibe click in system, the other side of a bear pow profile for generic shoes. Of course I also bought some Shimano shoes (M70T3) for the pedals.
Regarding my equipment the 400km distance went fine, I only had some trouble with my right hand, which felt a bit numb after the ride. Now I am thinking of changing the grips. My interest is on a pair of Ergon GX1 grips. But - holy cow - those grips are 36 EUR. Anyway, will test them.
I would like to add a triathlon handlebar extension, but I guess the PBP rules do not allow them (for security reasons). But for the 600km distance such should be allowed. I am thinking about it...
The bike computer is rather low end (to say the least), but I don't know if it's worth to upgrade. I still think speed, distance, ride time and clock is enough informatation.
All in all I guess there is not too much to exchange, maybe a better gear change or a carbon fork (I like those designed by Specialized with the anti vibration mechanism), but I guess it is okay as it is now.
Also I think time is up to exchange the chain and cassette (but this is no upgrade, but just a wearout replacement).
All in all that bike costed me yet a bit below 1000 EUR and I think this now tweaked bike is quite good for the brevets and still very good for my everyday cycling (to work and such things, no car here). While no doubt most of the other bikes around at the brevets have the better material I think I got most for my tight budget. I think if I had more money I would buy a dedicated bike for the brevets. But with my little salary as doctoral student I have to mind about budgets and decided to have only one bike for everything (daily use and brevets). It does the job and I like it.

Should upload some photos...

Mittwoch, 2. Mai 2007

400 km done

The 4oo km are done now, too. But with some issues. The biggest was eating and keeping the energy level. The first 100 km went quite fine, but then the energy was gone already. My eating schedule for the day before was absolutely not sufficient (had no pasta or so, just some pan potatoes). Also I waited too long to eat something during the ride.

When hunger was strong then I took a lunch at Burger King. I knew that this might be stupid, but I had to test it. I didn't knew how stupid it was. After eating I really felt bad and this feeling lasted for a couple of hours.

On early evening I felt better, but then I lost track of the way and it took me some km and time to get back on track. With my delay I had problems at the controls which took me additional time.

And then the night came and it became really cold, I expected it to become cold, but I was surprised how cold it became. I decided to take a break for a short hour and slept from 3:00 to 4:00 in some bus waiting stand. It was cold, but all in all not too bad. Cycling the night was quite brilliant, the way was crossing deep forrests and lonesome landscapes, the moon was shining bright - lovely

The last hours I enjoyed the early morning and the rising sun and I was glad to reach the finish after 24 hours and 50 mins and 429km (riding time was 19 hours and 30 mins). After the ride I enjoyed a breakfast and slept an hour and then went back to Bielefeld.

In the end still respectable, but I was expecting a total time of a good 20 hours and a cycling time of 16-18 hours.

End of May I'll try the 600km...

Freitag, 27. April 2007

Schedule for tomorrow: 400km

Yes, tomorrow I am going to beat my personal old  record of the longest distance cycled within 24 hours. The still current record was done in summer  1993, when I did a day distance of about 330km.
But tommorow I'll try to do the 400km. Weather will be fine, bike seems to be in good condition (I have slight doubts about the rims, they seem to have reached the end of their life span), knees do not hurt. Best conditions to do the ride.
Now I only hope that the tour will not be too hilly and that I will have the condition.
On sunday morning I'll know...

Dienstag, 24. April 2007

200 km done, 300 km done

So I did my first Brevets. The 200km distance was hard. Much harder than expected. Lot of mountains and a strong, cold permanent wind from east. Also my equipment was not optimal. Rode that distance wearing a jeans and got a tube failure. Also it was too cold. On top of the hills there was still some snow.

I felt my knees and was quite happy when finished that ride. But after two, three days I felt well again and started to think of the 300km distance.

The 300 km distance was way better: the weather was fine, my equipmet and clothes better. The mountains were not too hard. Reached maximum speed of about 60 km/h. Ate some badly fried fries on the afternoon. The first quarter of the distance (about 75km) I joined the top group, then I decided to let them go and chose my own speed. Most of the distance I rode alone and reached the finish after 14 and a half hours since the start at 7:30 a bit before 22:00 (21:59), cycling time was something about 12 hours.

It was hard, but also fun. Now I am curious to try the 400km distance. I hope for good weather conditions and for not too hard mountains. I'll see. Changed my pedals now to click pedals also my tires were exchanged to avoid tube failures (now Schwalbe Marathon Racer)

Mittwoch, 14. März 2007

Biking plans 2007

Okay, 2007 will be the year of biking. I'll (try to) ride the legendary ride Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) in summer. Of course my plan includes some additional extra, not only the ride (more regarding that later).
But before I can do that I'll have to practise a lot and to pass the qualificaton 'brevets'. Last weekend I did the first serious ride not only for this year but for a longer time. About 160km, most of he time through a hilled landscape (Weserbergland).
Wow - that was harder than expected. My left knee was hurting a bit (I guess (hope) it was the sudden strong work and the bit cold temperature) and I needed more time than expected (nearly 7 hours). But it was fun and I now I know that I still can ride. Max speed was 51 km/h, min speed 10 km/h.
In ten days I'll to the next long distance ride. 200 km, the 1st qualification brevet for PBP.

Blog relaunched

Relaunches are hip and I'll follow the route of hipness.
The old blog was not used too much, moreover I lost the password for it. Not enough with that no useful log in information was left over at all!
Well, that  will not happen again. Now it is happy blogging again.