All in all this had been the craziest thing I have done on a bicycle, so far.
About a week before the race started I decided not to follow the weather forecast anymore, in general. I’d say this made my life a lot easier during the ride. I had my route planned and I did not intend to change this routing plan. Actually there is no bad weather, there are only wrong clothes.
For my ride and my timing there have only been three or four times of rain, more or less heavy.
- Getting up to Grimselpass
- Getting down from Furkapass
- Getting down from the alps over to Trieste
- Crossing Istria at night
The first days in France and Switzerland had all just been about getting used to climbing, with more or less fun. Having a huge mountain to be conquered or having several smaller ones that are just in the way, for mentally this makes a difference, a big difference. You wanna get forward but there is another climb that slows you down, again. The significant temperature differences also made me kind of sensitive, as I was only wearing the cycling shorts, and no knee or leg warmers. This might lead to a minor change in selection of equipment for a potential next ride.
For getting out of Italy and Croatia this had been a combination with heavy thunderstorms and I did stopp over for several hours, as I have some special connection to thunderstorms, which I did not want to meet again during this ride.
Wind in Croatia had been a bigger issue that finally cost me at least half a day, therefore we prepare buffers.
With entering Macedonia in the early morning heat came up. To be honest I expected the heat way earlier and I had the greatest respect. Finally I only had two days of real heat, nevertheless on the second day, due to a un-careful planning of one route, I had to suffer in the heat, as I had to correct my routing by climbing up an unattractive mountain west of Alexandroupolis. It was just too much and I had to recover from that activity for some hours.
Weather was the big thing to be discussed to influence the race in advance.
Border crossing was my big uncertainty, so I spent some more time on that. Everything went smooth, others had to return from their prepared route to another border checkpoint. As I already had that experience, I really wanted to avoid that situation.
My biggest point, I was looking forward to the most, had been all the people. Before the race I might have said, all the different people. Now, after the race I have to admit they are not different at all. They are individual as we have them around everyone of us, every day.
- Greek and
Stopping and asking for help anywhere you got help. The people are more than willing to help, if it was the directon, water, food or also some food. The more I headed towards the East, the arms were open, even though language had been a classical hurdle, but only for the first few seconds. Everything could be solved anywhere. People are nice to us riders, open and helpful. Looking into the past, they have not been so nice to their neighbours.
It just took time to get through Switzerland, with their special way of treating their guests, I always had the feeling of not being welcome, from entering the country until getting out of it to Italy, with one exception. After descending from Grimselpass, I met with James and we stopped in a nice hotel in Gletsch, for having some hot teas and soups before getting up to Furkapass during the night. These guys had been really pleasant and helpful. Also in Andermatt we jumped into a small bar, after midnight, and they still offered us some ovomaltine and tea. After the night in Andermatt I promised myself to make it to Italy for a nice and warm breakfast on the next morning.
One other thing, they all had in common:
Nobody that wanted to know about what we were doing there, could believe what we were doing.