Samstag, 20. November 2010

Black Forrest III

And then I had my 3rd time in Freiburg within a good year. The entire October was Freiburg-time. Luckily my work still let me time to do some cycling tours as well as to join the dance exercise at next-step Freiburg - a really nice ballett/dance school.
Anyway, the summer was really in its last days and autumn present everywhere already. Hence the rides had to be done quickly, daylight was a rare resource already. But I tried to collect as many peaks as possible and I guess, did a rather good job given the little time I had. On 1st day after arrival I climbed up to Sankt Peter (716m) via the Ibental and down through the Glottertal. On 2nd day I rode through the forrests up to the Roßkopf (737m) and collected many Maroni/sweet chestnuts on my way down. On 3rd day I rode up the Belchen (1414m), the 50km way up to the Belchen-Haus I did in 2:30h and enjoyed an icecream and the pretty impressive panorama view of the snowy Alps.
But since time was rather rare I mostly did some minor rides (30-60 km distances) through the Glottertal, Dreisamtal and the Roßkopf area or to direction Münstertal. One of the bit longer rides (103km) took me across the Kaiserstuhl including a brief stop in France and a longer visit at the Cafe Ihringer in Breisach. But of course I also rode up to the already snowy Kandel (1242m). Because of the snow already fallen I decided to skip the Feldberg this time. But on last day I once again climbed up the Schauinsland(1284m)/Notschrei which just took me 1 1/4h starting from the city centre. With about 20°C on the peak (warmer than down in Freiburg) it was pretty warm again and the view to the Alps was imressive again. A bit sad though, that I couldn't take a longer rest on the height, since daylight was vanishing soon. But it was a nice way to say good bye. One month with little time, but all in all 1066km. What a nice autumn!

Samstag, 18. September 2010


This summer another bike tour was on schedule. The idea was to travel to Catalunya. From Barcelona to Barcelona with mountains and the sea. The highlight of the tour was the attempt to cross the mountains in the Canigou region from Mariailles to La Preste via the Collada Roques Blanques. There's a picture report about that adventure available on
Also the Cap Creus was a great experience. The Cap is really of particular beauty and the pathes circling the Cap are lonesome and okay to cycle. The impressions of nature are just overwhelming there.
Bathing and relaxing time took a major part of this year's tour, hence the kilometer count just reached about 900km for the three weeks time. A little infection while visiting a friend in Banyuls for a few days was a bit annoying though. Nevertheless the time in Banyuls was a great one and pretty worth repeating .
All in all this tour was a brilliant balance of being on the road and relaxing on the beaches/having an easy time. Even the rain this year wasn't a show stopper. Careful inspections of the sky helped avoiding to get cought by too many showers. And luckily the tent kept dry.

Freitag, 16. Juli 2010

Freiburg-Cologne: Rheinradweg nonstop

My time in Freiburg came to another end and I had to go back home. The weekend of my return I had an invitation for a barbecue in Cologne. Sounded good to me. I thought it would be nice to take the bike instead of a train to get there. I got myself a map, read a bit about the route and decided to just follow the Rhine and ride the "Rheinradweg" which I had seen quite some times while looking out of the window sitting in a train. The weather forecast was good, hence nothing should stop me.
The last day in Freiburg work was only little, most preparation for the tour was done the days before already, most of my stuff packed into a huge box that was handed over to DHL to be delivered to Bielefeld. I had my usual bike bags filled with lots of stuff (mostly clothes) my bottles were filled, video camera's battery charged. I officially finished the course, said good bye to everyone and loaded my bike at about noon on Friday. The Barbecue was scheduled for Saturday afternon/evening. I left Freiburg at 13:00 and headed to the north. The first kilometers I followed routes I knew, I quickly noticed a steep wind from the north. But I felt good.
Then I hit the Rheinradweg and I noticed issues: That track is not intended for speedy cruising. Much of the way is not covered by asphalt, but loose gravel - or closer at the Rhine - with sands or mud. Also the route is not everywhere too well covered with signs. Several times I lost track and eventually stucked in dead ends that bluntly ended at the Rhine coast (IIRC in the Region around Ifitzheim and Rastatt, but I don't remember precisely). So, speed was lousy and I alreday lost a lot of time when I reached Karlsruhe at dusk after 22:00. I decided to do little cheating and took a train to Mannheim. At Mannheim main station I was about midnight or so. I had a meal at McDonald's and then I started off into the night. I was thinking to take a break to sleep somewhere, but once I passed Worms I followed a Bundesstraße (B9), the wind was little now, the asphalt good and the kilometers just went by. So I decided not to take a break but instead to go on. Then in the middle of nowhere I had to leave the big road (the notorious red circle sign with a bicycle and a pedestrian) and had to follow little streets across whine yards or apple fields. Surprisingly those streets were no dead ends. My Ixon IQ and my cheap helmet lamp did a good service and I didn't lost track. On earliest morning I reached Mainz. I was driving to the city center, looking for some food. Disappointingly McDonalds was closed. I asked a few party returners where to get food at this time (dunno exactly, something about 4 a.m.), but nobody had a hint for me. At the station I found a bakery that sold me two pretzels and a Coke.
It was quite strange, sitting there on a tram waiting stand with my fully loaded bike, tired, wearing my reflector vest and bike clothes, eating and drinking and all in all not looking particularly fresh. Around me mostly drunken party ppl waiting for their trams or busses to bring them home, smoking, drinking, chatting. I had the feeling that I didn't belonged into that scenery, felt like an alien...
Leaving Mainz with the early dawn I was awaiting the most beautiful part of the tour where the mountains come closer to the rhine and one castle follows the next. The early morning was just gorgeous. The sunrise beautiful and soon the sun was warming me again (the night was a bit fresh, but okay). A little fog over the meadows, a fox crouching beside the way, a crow with a big red cherry in its beak and the steady fellow: the Rhine. Overwhelming impressions!
The morning went on, I felt a bit tired, traffic and winds increased again. I passed Bingen. The Rheinradweg was now in an okay condition, often a bit narrow though. Most parts were covered with asphalt or paved. In some small town I bought my first breakfast (an expensive juice and some some bakery wares). Then I got pretty tired. At about 8 a.m. I was extremly tired. I had been up for 24 hrs now. I nearly fell asleep on the bike. But the road was not offering many good options to take a break. Evenually I discovered a bench. I put my bike aside, set up my alarm clock, used my jacked as pillow and tried to sleep.
I fell asleep quickly, but woke up half an hour later again. To my big surprise I felt really fresh and awake now. So I ended my break (my alarm clock schedule was allowing me 2 hrs) and rode on.
The way took me further to the Loreley - but she wasn't singing and I managed not to fall into the water but went on. I passed Spay. I hoped to get a better view to the mysterious chimneys in the forrest up on the hills right sided to the Rhine there which I saw from the train quite often already. But I didn't got much more information when I passed them.
The morning became later and the way got somehow crowded - it was a Saturday and the weather brilliant. As the Rheinradweg is very popular and often rather narrow this frequently lead to getting slowed down by other cyclists.
I reached Koblenz and went on to Andernach. There I ate two ices for early lunch, phoned with "my barbecue" and went on. The wind turned and I got wind from the back now. Many ppl crowded the coast enjoing the sun, setting up barbecue grills. And I rode a slalom track through many cyclists. For about 10km I kind of teamed up with a recumbent cyclist who was the only guy during the overall 450km that didn't rode slow.
I passed the Drachenfels and reached Bonn. It seemed to me that in Bonn there are nice places to live near the Rhine. But now I wasn't slowing down, but tried to reach the finish: I was hungry for a barbecue and a chilled drink. At Wesseling I left the Rhine after 420 km and turned left. I passed Meschenich and was wondering about urban development decisions of the 70ies. A few kilometers and I reached Weiden about 16:00 where I reached my finish.
I had a warm welcome by the hosts, took a little time to recover and shower and was wondering myself that I still was not tired. The barbecue was pretty nice, some surprise guests were visting, too. It lasted long and at about 2 or 3 a.m. I eventually went to bed after more than 42 hours with only half an hour of sleep and quite some kilometers.
All in all it was about 450km in 28 hours. Not high speed though, but okay given the luggage load, the wind, the insects before Karlsruhe, the often bad and/or crowded cycling path. It was a gorgeous ride! The dawn was particularly impressing - the fox and thecrow were pretty cool. The night was another great experience - both on the Bundesstraße and crossing the vine yards. The sceneries I traveled across were always beautiful and I sometimes wished to reduce the speed and just take myself the time to stay. But that wasn't the approach of this tour - that's approach was doing Freiburg-Cologne nonstop. And it was just great! But doing the same route in 4-5 days would also be nice. Too many great cities, too impressing landscapes, probably lots of great food that I only touched slightliest on my way. But that's the fate of a long distance ride. You're always kind of rushed, always on the run. You come across a lot of locations, but you never stay, you don't belong, you're the lonesome cowboy... But I don't complain, it is self chosen and it is great.

Sonntag, 30. Mai 2010

The 300km Belchen Brevet 2010

Eventually spring arrived. And I was in Freiburg for a while. Fortunately this year in Freiburg a full BRM series was offered for the first time. While I missed the date for the 200km Brevet I was participating the 300km ride. Wow - and what a ride that was! There are a few diffrences to the Brevets I did in Großenwieden/Weserbergland: many more participants (about 70 compared to about 30 in Großenwieden). And a very different track profile: The mountains here are actually *real* mountains.
The weather was brilliant, my mood quite good, the pockets filled with some Swiss Franken for getting food on the road (part of the track was crossing Switzerland). I also took my video camera with me. I did this Brevet on my good old Bergamont bike again - the Specialized I hadn't taken with me to Freiburg.
The start was nice and the first serious uphill passage came quickly and went straight over the Blackforrest offering a good view to the Belchen. This climbing action was tough but quite nice. On the peak (about 1000m) I took opportunity to go downhill with a few fellows from Switzland who had a rather tough pace. But it was a great ride. Just before the Rhine a few steep hills were awaiting us (Nordschwaben). Still with the "Swiss express" I rode it up quite fast and probably lost a bit too much energy at this still early state of the brevet.
Anyway, we reached Bad Säckingen at a good time (3h for 80km) and instead of taking a little break to have a breakfast I tried to start off immediately again with those Swiss guys. But at the first ascent after the border (a really impressive old bridge over the Rhine), I wasn't able to keep up their pace. Instead I directly fell into a powerless state and had a hard time to climb up the not that steep hills. I didn't took a break, but tried heading to the next control at the Oberbölchener Haus where I heard a pasta buffet was arranged.

But before that control there was serious work to be done to reach that height the Oberbölchener Haus is located. 15% - tough if you feel powerless. I fought for each kilometer and finally reached that control (@ km116 - 5 1/2h). Unfortunately my appetite was gone and the noodles were way too al dente.
I didn't recover there as I hoped and just realized that I had to discard all my speed ambitions and do the remaining 180km really slow. I was happy to know that from km 200 the landscape was said to be flat again.
The route until there was crossing the Jura mountains. Beautiful sceneries just like taken from a Swiss picture album. The next control a bit west from Delemont was hard again, because it seriously went uphill once more and I also had a tube failure - exchanging the tube costed a little additional time. The control (Souboz, km 167) was at a car workshop. And a few randonneurs were pausing there, they all didn't looked fresh, too. I just went on, was too exhausted to even take a break. The way downhill from there was really impressive: tight rocks limiting the road through an impressing ravine.
Then I somewhere crossed the border to France, not even noticing where it actually was. I tried to take break to recover a bit, but didn't fell asleep and just wasted an hour time. Then the evening came and I finally reached flat lands. I crossed the industry areas of Mulhouse when it was dark already. The working plants were kind of impressive and a stark contrast to the nature-beauty of the landscapes just before.
At midnight (a time I originally not only wanted to have finished, but also be showered and being in bed already) I crossed the border to Germany and was just happy to realize, that I still had enough time to finish the last 30km by coasting. Each kilometer closer to Freiburg were a relieve.
Late, very late (at about 2:30 AM - 18 1/2 hours after the start) I eventually reached the finish and was very happy that this was finally done. I think it was my worst time ever.

I wasted way to much power at the first mountains. Also my fitness state was not good yet (the winter was too long) and once again I ate and drunk too little too late. The beginning was great, but the overstressing at the beginning literally killed me. 2/3 of the tour were a big fight for each single kilometer and height meter. If I had had the chance to abandon the tour at km 100 I had done so, but I needed to go on, so I kept on cycling. Nice to know though, that 200km w/o any power is still a thing that can be done. But actually it wasn't big fun. The weather and landscapes were brilliant though.

Again, a lesson learned. Never ever exceed your inner pace!

Montag, 8. März 2010


Winter. Snow since weeks. No, since months already. And it is cold. Too cold for my taste.
Or, differently phrased: it is a real winter this year. And while that isn't a good or bad thing in general, it is a bad thing for cycling. I finished the first two months of this year with cycling less than 400km - both months together!
I am desperately waiting for the spring to arrive. In a few weeks I need some shape and condition to do the first brevet of the year. Unfortunately the forecasts aren't too optimistic for the foreseeable future. I really hope they are wrong. I can't stand this winter any longer!