Don't get me wrong, I love living in Offenbach am Main in Hesse, Germany. It's colourful, surprising and lively. But it’s also crowded, dirty, loud and smelly. To find peace of mind here, you have to learn to accept the pros and cons of urban living. But when I stopped just beyond Perpignan on Bikepacking 2021, the contrast was stark: I was alone in nature with the wind rustling through the trees. Birds were chirping and the fresh scent of pine was captivating.
I had chosen the return route of the Trans Pyrenees Race from the komoot Collection and just went for it. The first time I saw the Pyrenees, it became clear – one day I’d have to take part in this race.
But it's not that easy. A rookie like me doesn't get a starting place for such a popular ultra-cycling race just for being intoxicated by the smell of the pine forests. Apart from a few major bikepacking tours, I didn't have much to show for it. Accordingly, in February 2022, I was delighted when komoot made the dream a possibility!
So I began training, employing a structured approach. I started riding 400 kilometres (249 mi) every week, plus interval training. Three months before the race, I increased the workload to 700 kilometres (435 mi) a week and completed an endurance ride once a week with 200 to 300 kilometres (124 to 186 mi) at a stretch. Big thanks to the dedicated (and slightly insane) people who supported me on these training rides! After lots of fun, countless pieces of cake, litres of coffee and a bit of gritting my teeth, I got to just under 11,000 annual kilometres (6,835 mi) by the end of August and was ready to race.
Anyone who has ever planned a cycling trip or flown with their own bike knows how big the effort is. What do I pack? What could go wrong? What spare parts, tools and equipment do I need? For the Trans Pyrenees Race, all participants must also submit a medical certificate in advance to make sure they are physically up to the challenge.
There are seven fixed control points, or parcours, on the 1,600-kilometre (994 mi) route. These are basically previously determined points or sections that must be ridden. Everything else is left to your imagination, spirit of adventure and meticulous planning.
Three weeks before the race, I lost concentration and crashed. The diagnosis was a torn tendon in my right wrist and a bruised rib. While the injuries hurt, even worse was the uncertainty of whether I could still compete.
Fortunately, I was able to get back on my bike two weeks after the crash and at least do small laps. Two days before the race, I registered in Saint-Jean-de-Luz near Biarritz. Here, all participants received their GPS trackers, caps with the start numbers and the sacred brevet cards. In the evening there was a safety briefing.
Addendum four weeks after the race:
I am constantly surprised by binge eating, my toe is still numb, the Achilles tendon continues to creak alarmingly, the wrist is splinted and taped and the fingers tingle with every movement.
The next races for 2023 have already been booked.
starting line. 6:25 a.m. It is pitch dark, only the tension is clearly visible.
3, 2, 1 and off we go!
We start out of Saint-Jean-de-Luz directly on the first course (25.5 kilometers, 470 meters in altitude). I only realize after a good hour that I forgot to start my Wahoo - as if I were the first person…
I start the remaining 20 kilometers of the second course very motivated, I feel invincible - and then comes the gravel section. Some participants roll towards me again because they have decided to bypass the passage. No way, I think to myself, I'm into graveling with my racing bike!
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Departure shortly after five, temperature the same time. I layer everything I have with me. In the meantime, slight seating problems are noticeable, I put the saddle a little higher and feel better immediately.
There is still thick fog in the valley as I drive east toward the rising sun. I feel small…
I have the two remaining soggy cheeseburgers from yesterday for breakfast and start the day in a good mood: Today I come to the Return Parcours (621 kilometers with 17,280 meters of altitude difference), which I was so captivated by in 2021 that I chose this undertaking here . Aching hand, Achilles…
Slowly, undeniably exhausted, I swing my battered buttocks in the saddle in the dark at around five degrees. Weary. Empty. But after less than ten minutes of driving, I really attack: In a boulangerie I eat three chocolate croissants and a quiche in record time, pour two cappuccini afterwards and have…
Um 4:32 Uhr klingelt der Wecker in meiner komplett gefliesten Unterkunft. Zum Frühstück habe ich nichts außer einem Gel und starte mit einem flauen Gefühl im Bauch um kurz nach fünf auf den Col d'Aspin (1.489 Meter), wo ich zeitgleich mit der Sonne eintreffe. Zum Genießen bleibt leider keine Zeit, denn…
Road Cycling Collection by komoot
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Hiking Collection by VERKEHRSVERBUND GROSSRAUM NÜRNBERG