March 10, 2018 at 00:01 was the starting time for leaving from Hamburg towards Skagen and back again on a fixed track. So much said about the concept of Transcimbrica, that was organized for the third time by Stefano and Thees.
My original plan getting there, was crossing Harz with its highest peak Brocken. It failed for this year as there had been too many things going on at home. Finally I was more than happy to make it to start, on time.
After getting on an high speed train -their newest versions (ICE-4) has room to carry eight bikes- around six o’clock in the evening. No real chance for having some good rest, as it was easily possible on an IC-train, as the bike space was way bigger.
Reaching Hamburgs’ main station, I only had to ride up to Blankenese. Arriving at the starting line, I was amazed to see plenty well known faces of ‘repeat offenders‘, as I am one as well. Thees handed out some strong drinks in a hip flask, for the hard times out on the road, and -also a classic- some stickers to mark the way up to the north for fellow riders. And surprisingly, this time there had been some ‘magic balls’ from Marcus. You can also call them energy bombs!
Getting off from the start, I was not sure if I had a chance to ride into the dawn, as I hoped. I could not really get some good rest before the start, I assumed to ride maximum four hours and then stop at a bus stop, as usual. Together with René I reached the Kiel Canal, to cross it in the early morning, roughly 100kms after the start. Soon after that I decided to let him go by himself and have a short stop as forecasted. I spend two hours in a bus stop. In Ellingstedt I had my breakfast, in the exact same bakery than the year before. Only difference that I got there two hours later than last year. The style and quality of their rolls was just amazing. A constantly platt speaking lady at the counter, I was loving it.
The weather conditions have not been like wow, always some low clouds, and slight but constant rain. It was windy as well and all over the place. But we all knew that this race (* please see clarification below) is not an easy one. We had extensive discussions during the week before the start, as Jytland was fully covered in snow and it seemed there was no chance to ride this race (* please see clarification below), even two days before the start. We went off, anyways. So it does not really make sense to complain about the natural forces.
Stepping into Denmark in Padborg, there was no way back, anymore. As Stefano and Thess must have some or several gravel genes, they send their track into gravel several times. At night, there had already been two proper sections over muddy forest paths with wonderful tractor tire marks in the soaked surface. This procedure continued in Denmark. I upgraded my tires from only 25mm to 28mm which is still pretty slim for these gravel sections, but impossible is nothing.
During lunch time more and more wind came up and we had to cross many sandy roads. After refueling my stocks, rain started pouring off the sky, so I finally got on my real rain proof pants. Until the northern end of Denmark I will not get them off anymore. Weather conditions turned out to be more and more harsh. I had another stopp in a hotdog store, stinking like hell, but dry and hot coffee for free. I had the rough idea to get until Viborg during the night. But then rain turned into snow, which was nicer for cycling. But on the narrow paths, snow did hide the surface situation, so it was almost impossible to cycle them. Around 2100 hrs, I had to push my bike through the snow. I was several kms away from Viborg, but it was clear I won’t make it there tonight. Denmark has an amazing culture of shelters out in the nature, anywhere. Hidden. Not visible from the road or the paths. This was the amazing effort of Stefano and Thees, they provided a file with relevant information about re-fueling and shelters along the road. Said, in short words, this means you get tired on your bike and you simply zoom out on your gps device to see POI’s around you. So I spent this night in a wonderful shelter. Outside everything was white and windy. I decided to have a proper -long- rest this night, as weather would not change for the better on the track ahead. So I stayed in my bivy for almost eight hours.
The next morning I packed all stuff back into my bags, brushed my teeth and rinsed the salt off my face. Then I was ready to get back on the track. I cycled about 2-3 hours before I had some breakfast at Vammen. I was prepared to get through a proper Sunday, with most shops closed down. But to my surprise – I simply must have forgotten- the shops were open all days of the week. I wanted to reroute after Vammen, as there started a longer gravel, my memory said. But I failed, as I did not 100% remembered where it was and I did not want to spend such a long time in the cold without moving. So I went through. The simple thing in the snow was that Micha was just ahead of me. From his paths in the snow, I would say he was between one or two hours ahead. On the small paths I did not need to navigate at all, only followed his marks. Thanks for that! I crossed the water at Aalborg into North Jytland. It was dark already but I did not want to stop here for the last refueling of the day. Not too far away from Aalborg in the north, there started an extensive gravel section, again. During my last Choco-Expressi stop, I decided to head East (Road no 180) and then North (Road no 40). During riding on the 180 during the darkness with heavy rains and strong headwinds, I proper lost my motivation and got very tired on the bike. I had to get back some action by turning or something similar. I decided to get off my de-tour and did some zigg-zaggs in the Danish night. It woke me up again, but wind and water from above got more and more. Getting on the smaller roads again, was a little bit silly. In the end, it did work out, with some risky slides. Stupidness arose with the lateness of the night and I got on the cycle path again. What a silly plan. Frozen pieces covered with snow no fun at all, far away from safe cycling. So, headed back on the wet wet roads.
Under pouring rain I reached the kiosk of Grenen and I decided neither to walk up to the front end of the land, nor to stop and take a picture. It was really uncomfortable during that time of the day. So this house was my northest point of the route. Now it was time to head south again, but first I need to find a shelter. I remembered one from last year, when I left from Skagen together with Rene and Thomas a.k.a. Cube. Thomas took a rest in the woods. I wanted to find this place, although it was aside the cycle paths. By getting into this shelter, I was almost sure that I would not get back into the race (*please see clarification below) on the next day. Of course, do not scratch a race (*please see clarification below) during the night. The physical conditions of my right knee, was not promising at all. Stabbing pains after resting the legs for short moments during pedaling. I hope it is “only” related to the bad weather and physical stresses. Tiredness, coldness and some pains needed to get fixed during this night, we will see. I found the shelter, got into my sleeping bag and was off.
Strong weathers went over my shelter during this short night. Anyway, I slept well. Getting up the next morning, I checked my left and decided to not continue the race (*please see clarification below). I love the strong weather, even it strongly works against your very own motivation. But this time, I do not want to damage something more than it already was, possibly. Decision was made quickly, although it was not easy. So my race (*please see clarification below) was over and I headed over to Skagens train station. Over and out.
The following hours on the train, I had time to follow the dots, of the tough riders out there. Also, there was lots of discussion going on about the weather. I was kind of sad about my very own decision, but I knew it was the right decision.
Thanks to everyone joining for letting this race (*please see clarification below) be so unique and special!
*** Clarification from the author and one of Transcimbrica’s organizers ***
Transcimbrica is NOT a race, Thees is repeating as also shown on Transcimbrica’s website. Quote from the website: “… the third edition of the „Self-Supported“ endurance ride”. Well, the rules follow Gunnar Fehlau’s Grenzsteintrophy. Also he emphasizes that his event is not a race but a trophy. So please, replace any wording of ‘race’ against ‘endurance ride’. I hope this clarification is acceptable for you, Thees. For me it definitely is! Thanks .max