regarding #TCR2015

Well, I'm not in this year.
I must admit that Lee's idea is really nice, but I won't make it in time with recovery, being back in shape before the Alps will see snow.

But I was planning a bit on the route before I left home for the TransAm. And I wonder a bit if there's someone out there (besides Mikko - will be worth to watch his scenic ride I'd say) who would give it a try to make use of the bold NOT:

"There will be 4 mandatory checkpoints in the 2015 Transcontinental. Visit in number order is NOT
mandatory (but their scheduled operation is in order and they will close as indicated)."

One can say that using a ferry during the race is for lazy bumps and the "real shit" is riding it completely. Well, I fully respect such an approach from the sports perspective. Nevertheless, since the manual clearly indicated that specific ferries are allowed within the race (and one specific is still not ;-) ) it's worth to consider them in planning. We will see most of the riders following the number order of the checkpoints. For the part Start > CP1 > CP2 everyone will do so, we'll see a bit variation but they'll all head the same way. So far one can't gain much from choosing it's route a bit differently. Out of the Alps most riders will try to make a beeline to CP3, which is pretty flat in the first half. Italy is generally okay to ride, maybe not so nice in the Venice area with lot of traffic. Then one has to go a long stretch to Vukovar, a bit hilly and many options to pick a route. This will be by end of the first week (or second half of it), so one might not be the freshest. It's pretty warm during summer down there so having a few hours of rest might be heaven.

How about heading from CP2 down to the ferry in Ancona? This would be a downhill ride along the river Po and cost. Roads are pretty empty inlands. Okay, mosquitos are out there at night since they water all the peach and pear trees (take care where you snooze, these sprinklers start sometime in the middle of the night). So if the timing is right you can catch a ferry at early eveing in Ancona, book a cabin for yourself, either pick some food on the way or eat on the cruise. Having a 10 hours break and maybe 8 hours of babylike sleep (that ferry moves smoothly with the sea) and arriving in Split at 6 in the morning. Fresh and recovered you'll pedal along the beautiful coast, full of fruit shops along the road, no problem to get something to eat, proper road with guardrail. You will be in Kotor in the evening, refueling and then climbing the Mt. Lovcen in the darkness avoiding the heat of the day. Either you stay there and snooze at the rest area or you go down again. Next would be the part between CP4 and CP3 - a piece that requires some climbing - but no matter which way you do it, CP3>CP4 or CP4>CP3 it's a challenging section. And for those who take the ferry I would expect the first dog fights along that part, until here everything should be "dog-free". Once you make it to Vukovar the remaining part is then CP3>Finish. On the map it looks a bit weird going north from CP4 (away from the Finish) but in the end it seems less climbing in total than the way from Lovcen to Istanbul, especially the southern Greece option. But, one has to take into account the road warnings and traffic conditions. It might not be everyone's choice to cycle the Bulgarian route. So, by distance swapping CP3 and CP4 and incorporating a ferry ride probably won't be (much) shorter than the common route. The major benefits in my eyes are recovery break and less climbing.

Whoever now might start to consider this, don't throw away your initial planning. Keep both routes on your device. Once finished CP2 it's the right moment to check weather, legs and timing. That's the moment you should decide and book the ferry (if not booked already).

I don't upload or share any details or *.gpx-files - that's everyones own task. But if you feel lazy riding at the moment or it doesn't make more sense to train more - why not playing with the maps. Have fun! ;-)


wasting time

Don't get me wrong, I'm just writing this because I got the time to.

Somehow I'm sick of blogging about cycling. The whole web is full of it. It feels like running a weblog about cycling became some kind of must-have for everyone who ever rode a bike. Or owned one. Or plans to ride or buy one. Even to that weird extreme that people borrow bikes or material to blog about. Optimizing articles like companies are doing, SEO-bullshitting, scheduling weekly link-collections, video-editing-and-uploading every second round-the-block-ride-action-cam-trash. And finally - promoting every post a couple ten times via all social channels. It all has to be published, blown up to the biggest, largest, longest, hardest, what-so-ever...-est. And not just that every hour one has finally been sitting on the bike has to be exploited - even before that. To gain publicity for every planned ride - "the media machinery" has to be started with all available fancy options. Sorry, but I'm tired... yes, I'm bored to death of all this. It's all wasted time to me. I prefer riding a bike over writing about it. The only thing why I'm back on the keyboard now is that my bones will need a few weeks until I can walk without crutches. And a few more weeks until I can think about riding a bike again. Summer, or how most of these cycling-bloggers call "season", will be gone by then.

Sometimes things happen for a reason. I'm usually okay with that - if I understand the reason. At the moment I can't really see this hidden agenda. Maybe it takes some more time.

Time is what I do have more than enough at the moment. Laying in a bed, filled up with painkillers and sleeping something around 12 hours a day. Actually I should sleep less than 5h per day at the moment, somewhere along that red line across the states. This was the plan for this year. A plan which became real after last years result leaving me with a big questionmark in my head: "What would be possible.... what could I achieve if I would prepare and focus better... what could be the result of racing such a thing from the beginning?" This type of questions that leaves you restless. That makes you think it over and over again all the time sitting in the saddle. And slowly the idea was born. To do it. And to do it better. To do it with a focus on the things you've been a bit weak in. Technically, physically, mentally. And the time was right. This year I could allow for holidays for two races - the TransAm and the TransCon. Definitely a challenge. Both just 3 weeks apart, not much time to recover in between, but also both unique in their own beauty. So, preparing for each of them in parallel isn't really easy but a nice mental training for switching your focus on a specific target.

Last year I wasn't really riding with a focus on anything specific during early summer. I just tried to do a lot. Long rides mostly from A to B, visting family and friends. After the race I didn't ride for a week which was a little mistake. Back to work was no other chance than coming back to daily riding. Plus a lot of socialising with friends and family. I had to do a lot of 200+ commutes. But this gave me the chance to observe myself, improve and fine tune. It's weird to claim a 240km-ride with more than 30mins of stopping time a "bad ride" but you get the idea. I started to focus more on the gross/net-ratio than on the avg. speed. Hell, what have I been wasting time before...

I didn't really stop to ride over the winter months. It's wasn't a real winter with lots of snow and ice on one hand, but also it was more the general laziness which was to tackle. You can ride every weather. You can make some relevant miles - if it's sub zero and snow or plus one degree and rain, it's really just a mental thing. Once you're okay with that and you accept you lower avg. speed compared to those of the summer fun rides you just do what you do. If it's icy get on the spike tires and do a few hundred meter climbing in deep snow - worth a few hours of ice cream conditions. And we had wind. I mean serious wind. Wind that killed a few hundred old trees in a nearby forest, wind that forced me to pedal in low gear always jumping into the next gust and screaming for a bit mercy. Wind was a permanent coach for months. I had a weak week in February with a bit cold & fever and some coughing, but as always it takes a week with medicine and seven days without. So a nice reason to start again with a 300+ ride. And slowly you build up some mileage.

In the end it was just a matter of getting the kit together again, fixing some minor issues here and there and stripping the bike completely. I got me the same frame off a 2x10 105 setup, put some of the old 11sp Ultegra parts and some new stuff onto it. So I had enough time to build up the brave black mule with care. I gave it a conservative test ride over 3.5 days and 1,200km. It went all fine, smooth as expected. Meeting family on that trip and chatting a bit, spending time for cooking and such things made me quite confident being able to add another 3 hours per day without much stress if needed. So there was not much else to prepare. 11,000km in the first five months of the year seemed to be a good basis. Some more climbing than last year, generally more focused on wasting less time without moving. It all felt right.

But sometimes it all goes in a different direction. Boarded the plane in Hamburg, arrived in Portland and took the bus to Astoria. Snoozing, eating, assembling my bike the Wednesday went by. Weather was much better than normally in Oregon, with a lot of sunshine hours. So I had a look to downtown, up to the Column and out of town for a few hours. Riding was fun, bike did well, legs too. But just when you are about to feel fine because everything is just as planned, just as expected it hits you the hardest. And this time as a car with 55mph from behind. There is no warning, no time, not even to realize it directly. So the rest of the day was a simple story: ambulance, police, emmergency room, x-rays, CT, hospital bed, morphine, infusion. And being hungry and calming down from the traumatic shock your body feels just like a huge piece of pain.

Now, two weeks later, I'm back in Germany after a while in the hospital. After been screened and checked several times every doctor was shaking the head by the mismatch of the heavy accident and the resulting damages. Still, they are painful and they will need their time to heal, but overall - the likelihood of been killed by such an impact isn't that small. Which doesn't make me happy at all. I'm looking forward to a few weeks of sorting out paperwork - laywers, insurance companies, the whole bunch of unfunny stuff.

Coming back to the deeper meaning of what happened. I'm still lost. It's unfair. It hurts. It makes me rebel against... I don't know yet. And I don't know where I will put my focus on. Not yet. The level I was riding on was much higher than last year, my mindset much more adjusted. I don't want to speculate where I would have ended or what-if..., that really just answers a ridden competition. The only thing I can say at the moment is - I still don't know how good I really could race such a thing.

And, no worries - in case I start to put myself on a bike again - I won't bother you with writing, filming and linking 'bout. Because I do it for myself.