So, my registration has been confirmed.
I’ve never planned or even ridden such a long route before, but thankfully the kind organisers at Berlin-Munich-Berlin (BMB) Radmarathon have already planned the routing between the checkpoints in detail and made the route files available on Komoot. One problem sorted.
What do I need to do between now and hitting the start line?
My thinking is the following:
- Understanding the route
- Pacing – how quickly do I need to ride to make the 700 km within the 64 hour deadline? How do I manage my energy on the flats versus in the hillier sections? When and where can I best rest to avoid exhausting myself?
- Training – what skills do I need? How can I best develop these?
- Bike setup, equipment, clothing and other kit – carry enough, but not too much
- How to get my bike to Berlin, and how to get back from Munich?
Something else will undoubtedly come up – I will add these as and when I think of them. I’m sure that I’m overthinking this preparation, but it’s my first time, I enjoy the planning, and it shouldn’t be time lost. Maybe you, dear reader, might be interested in my process.
I’ll keep the rest of this post to the first point – my understanding the route. I’m also aware that fellow riders may read these posts – feel free to follow and borrow ideas, as we’re not competitors and we will share the journey. Just make sure your plans suit you, your equipment and your abilities.
The stages of the Berlin to Munich route are as follows:
- Stage 1 – Berlin to Leipzig (197 km, 880 m ascent)
- Stage 2 – Leipzig to Waldershof (228 km, 2,350 m ascent)
- Stage 3 – Waldershof to Schloss Stefling (117 km, 1,150 m ascent)
- Stage 4 – Schloss Stefling to Munich (162 km, 1,060 m ascent)
This makes a total of 704 km and 5,440 m of ascent, which has to be done in 64 hours (2 days 16 hours).
Profile charts of the four stages are available on Komoot, these are below (red/yellow markers at the top relate to waypoints):
- Stage 1 – relatively flat, good opportunity to warm up and cover distance quickly. This will involve an 8 am ride out of Berlin (thankfully the start point is on the edge of the city, so traffic shouldn’t be too hairy), and runs through small towns all the way to Leipzig.
- Stage 2 – things start going uphill, however whilst there is no big ascent, there seems to be a few spicy climbs and descents. Starts in Leipzig and passes through a number of larger towns before ending in Waldershof.
- Stage 3 – a moderate hill at the beginning with approx. 300 m ascent, nice downhill stretch for about 30 km and generally flat to Schloss Stefling. Barring a few sections, this stretch looks fairly well populated.
- Stage 4 – some punchy climbs and likely a number of false flats until Munich. Passes through the outskirts of Regensburg which may raise questions regarding traffic managment and navigation. Subject to pacing and time pressure, this stage may be more challenging due to tiredness.
The well planned route along minor roads, the large number of towns along the route (including shops, restaurants, 24/7 fuel stations, bike shops, and even hotels), as well as the lack of any big hills or mountains (no Großglockner thankfully) shouldn’t pose too many external difficulties.
The riders going the full distance back to Berlin will certainly have a great challenge – nevertheless, as a first timer on half distance, this will need careful pacing to ensure I don’t burn out too early. After some research, I discovered that most audaxes range from 100 to 600 km. 700 km will be quite a start in the world of long distance cycling!
From a quick review of the maps of the routes, it seems that the first 200-250 km should be fairly open and therefore exposed to the sun and wind. Whether or not this is favourable can only be determined closer to the time. The remainder should run through some forests, which may offer relief from the heat.
The prioritisation of back roads for the whole distance may both be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it should mean less traffic which is never a bad thing. On the other hand, it does raise the risk of vehicles coming from side roads and blind entrances (houses, industrial complexes), which may necessitate increased awareness to reduce any unpleasant accidents.
Minor roads with frequent junctions may also reduce the ability to use aero bars, especially on twisty sections – this might be a skill worth practising, especially where I may need to brake quickly. I will also need to concentrate on the route to avoid getting lost. There should be a number of instances where I need to cross large roads and unfamiliar junctions which may or may not have dedicated bike lanes. This will need a reliable and clear GPS head unit, which means I need to test how my current system works on similar and unfamiliar roads.
I understand that each of the checkpoints should offer food and a place to rest / sleep, which will certainly factor in my pacing. To make sure I make the cut off point of 64 hours (2 days 16 hours), I will need to be prepared to do a fair bit of night riding and carefully manage my rest time.
This is a good place to stop my ruminating – in my next post I’ll consider how I can best pace myself through the journey.