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The first long trip I ever made on a bicycle was back when I was around 10 years old. My grandparents used to live in a town that was about 40km away from where my family used to live and we basically went there every weekend. At some point I asked my mum whether it is possible to go there by bike. One sunny day, we made it happen. It came with a surprise on how quickly got there. I thought about a day long trip —but instead, it only took us about 3 hours…
Several years went by and the next long trip was to a cabin in the mountains that my best friend’s parents rented together with some other families. It was the first time we did more than 100km in a single day with a significant, steep climb on the last 15km. For the first time, we also had to navigate on our own — remember there were no such things like GPSes or smart phones back in 1995.
What followed were quite a few cycling tours along the usual rivers like Danube or Inn. Nothing spectacular. Until my friend finished High School and we decided to cross the Alps together. Needless to mention that we wanted to do this on a bike. On the first day of the trip, we almost cracked the 200km. We had really heavy bikes back then and a tent and cooking equipment with us. So this was quite something.On our way up to Flüelapass — the first pass to take on our 2001 tour across the Alps")
Another three years passed until in 2004 we went on another trip across the Alps — this time it was across the Alps and back. On the very last day we finally managed to do more than 200km.Climbing up Hahntennjoch — on our tour across the Alps in 2004")
Around 2007 my friend sold me a road bike frame — he bought it on ebay and it was a little to big for him. We built it up from used parts and that’s how I got into road cycling. I still went to university back then, so I had a lot of time for cycling. And in 2008 we went cycling almost every day. That’s when we picked up the idea of doing some long distances again. The next “milestone” were the 300km which we did on my 28th birthday.On our way to crack the 300km on a single day — look at our lightweight road bikes (2008)")
Another 10 years passed by. My road bike was stolen, I got me a new one in 2016 and in 2018 I remembered an event called “Paris-Brest-Paris” (PBP). It turned out to be the world’s most famous event for long distance cyclists and I started to get obsessed with joining it. Actually I first heard about it from my favorite bike mechanic in Karlsruhe in 2007. He joined PBP twice and I always wanted to participate ever since then. For various reasons I never made it, but in 2018 I was super-motivated. My plan was to ride a really hard 300km race and then ramp up to 1000km which would guarantee me a spot in the 2019’s PBP.
Easier said than done. The 300km race I wanted to ride is called “Alb-Extrem”, it is a 300km, 6500m climbing challenge along the border of the Swabian Alb. What I didn’t realize when I registered was, that there is a time limit. So the first time I did a test ride with the same distance and climb, it took me 4 hrs more than the time limit. I thought I’d never be able to make it in time, but finally I did.
Highly motivated by this success, I signed up for the longest brevet I could find that still had open spots — which was a 1000km ride along the borders of Switzerland with a club called “Audax Suisse”. Although I knew that Audax was somehow related to the club in Paris that organizes PBP, I didn’t know much about long distance riding or brevets or anything.
To better prepare for the 1000km ride, my plan was to ride 600km on my own before going to Switzerland. Since I loved to start my tours from where I live, I planned a route from Stuttgart (where I lived back then) to Lago di Garde in Italy. In my opinion that would make a great destination. The official time limit for 600km is 40 hours, so I tried to stay within this limit. It took me 36 hours. I fell asleep on the bike after the second night (which was an experience I never ever want to make again) and I rode 14 hours in pouring rain crossing 2 mountain passes all alone in the dark. Somehow it came to my mind that if I would manage to do that I would be perfectly prepared for whatever would come afterwards.My hands — after 14 hours of rain during the 600km to Lago di Garda (2018)")
One month later — in August 2018 — I took the train to Switzerland and in a small town called Buch, close to the Swiss-German border, I met ~40 other riders to start on a 1000km bike ride around Switzerland. It was an epic adventure and by finishing in 70 hours, I surely had my ticket for PBP in 2019.During the last night — on the last 50km of the BRM1000 around Switzerland (2018)")
Finishing PBP 2019 after 4 nights, 1200km, 12.000m climb and 85 hours on the road")
A good friend and fellow cyclist once said that if you can cycle 20km, you can cycle 50km. And if you can cycle 50km you can cycle 100km. Once you achieved that you can do 200km — and if you can do 200km you can do any distance. I guess he was right :)