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During his preparation for the Paris-Brest-Paris race next year, Marcus attended his first 1000 kilometre Brevet through northern Bavaria. For us, he gives a brief insight on his impressions.
I attended the Superrandonneur-Series from 200 up to 600 kilometer in Saxony last year and the first short Brevets in 2014 went well, too. The venerable and oldest amateur race Paris-Brest-Paris is on next year’s agenda. With a forthcoming 1200 kilometres I was hoping to get a better sense for such a long distance. A race called Große Acht durch Bayern seemed to be a good opportunity, as I am currently living in the region, and the route profile promised to be quite challenging with its 1000 kilometers and 11000 meters of altitude.
The hours before
The starting position was perfect. Everything was packed, the bike had already been prepared and I was relaxed. Equipped with all necessary items, I started my journey towards Osterdorf on Thursday morning. I came across a lot of familiar faces and got ready for the start, which mainly consists of organizational procedures – signing a limitation of liability, picking up the route plan and packing food. After some tech talk and exchanging ideas, the race started at 10 a.m. with about 50 participants towards Wertingen. Tailwinds pushed us to the foothills of the Alps and the kilometres passed by quickly. A smooth start, besides a faulty rear derailleur I tried to adjust constantly. We slowly trailed up a mountain pass near Kufstein / Austrian border to reach the first checkpoint. The starting field had already spread over a long distance and we had completed 300 kilometers. Unfortunately, at that point my shifter cable teared down and the rear derailleur snapped back to the smallest cog. There was no chance to repair it immediately, so I decided to fix it provisionally at the 14 tooth cog. Though the upcoming kilometres had a comfortable route profile, the problem better had to be fixed as soon as possible due to steeper uphills and growing knee pain. Fixing the shifter cable at the frame and setting the derailleur to a larger cog brought some relief. This should do it for the next 200 kilometers at night. A heavy rain shower welcomed us around 5 a.m. and I regretted I had not adjusted mudguards to my bike. In a guesthouse in Wörth we were able to stock up our energy with carbohydrates and coffeine before we could take a short nap. Right after the rain had stopped, Micha, Mike and me took off towards Kelheim.
In general, the motivation sank to a minimum due to coldness, wetness, saddle pain and stiff joints, that made moving forward more and more a pain in the ass. The gearshift still needed repair, as the height profile after Kelkheim would be full of heavy climbs. We were constantly looking for a bike shop to fix the rear derailleur but it was only the fourth shop we came across, that was friendly and instantly helpful. After a nice chat and a few swift moves, the gearshift was repaired and I was ready to go. The following track between Osterdorf start and finish was a relaxing 8. As usual, the last kilometers dragged on way too long and many ascents with 14% had to be tackled. Micha and me arrived in Osterdorf a couple of minutes before the others and took a longer break. We took a shower, had some food, changed clothes, looked after the bikes and took a short sleep for 50 minutes. A larger group of 13 cyclists started at 9 p.m. for the second round.
The following kilometers cost the most effort. Our legs had pushed us already over 618 kilometres and were completely overtired. The forthcoming 400 kilometers throughout the night required more than motivation. The pace of the group was too slow for me and I decided to go on ahead on my own. I found myself rather isolated and alone in the dark for the next 70 kilometres. No traffic, hardly any lights in the houses I passed, small woods, a clear starry sky and the steady fight against my fatigue during the neverending kilometres. I tried to stay awake finding the right way and headed for the next stop in Heßdorf at an average speed of 23 km/h. The peloton arrived around half an hour later and so I had some extra time to calm down. The break was too long for my taste and the speed of the peloton again, too slow. Micha and me decided to drive ahead through my current place of residence around Forchheim. I knew every curve and pothole along the track, though Micha had to stop me from carrying on to fast, otherwise I would have been to weak for the upcoming and hardest climb of the race, from Hirschaid towards the Friesener Warte. That means 350 metres uphill with a constant ascent of 20% throughout that part of the track. A balanced sitting position is most essential on such rough underground. At that point my stamina had reached its lowest point.
We decided to take a short sleep in the tiny foyer of a bank after a long descent at 5 ℃ in the morning. After that we forced us up the hills of the Franconia Switzlerland followed by sheer endless rollercoaster rides through the valleys, always heading towards the next rest stop. Micha and me worked well as a team. He pushed me up the hills and I tried to keep a high speed during the plain tracks. The big goal was to reach Osterdorf before sunset. That in mind, we knew an average speed of 20km/h would be necessary to reach our goal in time and crossing the last ambitious section called „Schweinebuckel“. We reached the 1000 kilometre border in Altdorf and gave a brotherly high five to each other. That would be all for now because there was still a long way ahead of us. Knowing we were still on schedule and full of drive, the last kilometres somehow passed by eventually. Completely relieved, proud, exhausted, totally crushed and amazed we had tackled the challenge that well, we arrived in Osterdorf. Other riders had already arrived hours before but we did not care, were just happy. Everyone who has taken part in the Großen Acht durch Bayern and successfully gone through it, can be proud of themselves. We let the evening while away in a cozy atmosphere drinking beer and laughing about anecdotes many, many kilometres before.
A big thanks goes to Karl and Heidi, the good organization and the crowd of helping hands. Thanks a lot to those helping me with my rear wheel and supporting me at my very personal fight with my rear derailleur.
Until the next long haul!
travel time 42:55
overall time: 58h
average speed: 24,4km/h
total altitude gain: 11500hm
temperature / max: 31°C
temperature / min: 5°C
The track at Strava