The Road to Munich – so what happened?

The keen eyed readers among you may find something strange in my recent posts.

It started so ambitiously with my first post talking about my registration for Berlin-Munich. My first audax! My preparations started well, and this led to my second post talking about routing and strategy. Given that the audax was at the end of July 2021, surely there should have been a couple more posts since then?

A minor hiccup – and a new beginning

Several months prior to the event, I was doing regular maintenance on my Triban, the bike I was intending to ride on Berlin-Munich, and discovered that my bottom bracket (the plastic bit in the frame which allows for smooth pedalling) had developed a hole over the last few months, resulting in water ingress and some damage to the crank spindle. Clearly this was not ideal, and when I tried to replace the bottom bracket, I discovered that the reason why.

Warning – technical details on bike components ahead, those of delicate constitution
please scroll one paragraph below 🙂

The two sides of the bottom bracket mount on the frame appear not to have been cut perfectly parallel. This was fine with my old square-tapered bottom bracket (which merely screws into and sits within the frame), but with the BBR60 (which screws onto the frame in from both sides) this was a problem. Fitting the bottom bracket caps therefore squeezed the inner tube that passed through the frame. This resulted in a bulge which over time split and resulted in water ingress and damage to the crank.

End of warning – its safe again!

When I tried to take the bike to a local bike shop, they couldn’t fix the problem and literally told me that the frame was junk. I was recommended to get a “decent” bike instead – a statement which frankly left a bad taste in my mouth. Since then I have not returned to that bike shop. I tried several other options to solve the problem, all without much luck. My Triban therefore sat in my basement without a bottom bracket for several months. I became disillusioned with it and generally frustrated.

A sad picture. My faithful bike Hamish inoperable without a working bottom bracket. At this stage I had already started scavenging parts, hence the drooping handlebars.

Nevertheless, I still had about two months before Berlin-Munich and I still had to train – I just didn’t have a functioning road bike. Conscious that the COVID pandemic was causing massive shortages of bikes, I nipped over to a new bike shop and sponsor of my bike club, Star Bike. The legends over there helped me massively and I was guided through several options. I quickly decided on my new road bike, a Cannondale CAAD13, which was built up and ready to try out several days later. With this amazing turn around time, it was like there was no bike shortage at all. Needless to say, I am now a loyal customer.

Reinvigorated and full of the spirit of adventure, I prepped my Cannondale for Berlin-Munich and with a month to go, I decided to do a field test on my new bike and equipment, and to get a feeling of the distances I would need to ride. This is where my Passau-Vienna trip came in. Everything performed well and I felt good (well, a bit tired and with a mild addiction to Haribo).

My equally beloved racing bike, the Cannondale CAAD13, complete with bikepacking kit and with the Melk monastery in the background. And yes, thats a pack of Haribo sticking out of the bag.

A difficult decision

One week ahead of the event however, I had a difficult decision to make. I had already booked a week long holiday and was ready to travel to Berlin with my bike and kit.

Those of you who know me personally know that I have a high pressure job. This is no excuse of course, and I am aware that some sacrifices in time and energy are necessary for meaningful adventures. That being said, after working a number of weeks with 12-14 hour days, I was feeling mentally exhausted and frankly in need of peace and quiet.

The choice – do Berlin-Munich as planned or stay at home for a week’s holiday. Perhaps the ride would do me good? Physically I was fine and it might just be the perfect break, several days of just being outdoors and not staring at a screen. My biggest concern was however that I would need to push myself hard to make the deadlines, riding about 300 km each day. Only having done this distance once before, and never having bikepacked before, I was worried about accidents happening due to my exhaustion.

The risk of riding off the street after a long day in the saddle, into a pothole and injuring myself, or even my slow reaction to a car pulling out of a driveway, and its consequences was just too high for me – especially on its knock-on effect on my ability to do my day job.

Maybe it was the right decision, maybe the wrong one. The reality is however that, despite my passion for cycling, I have other, greater priorities. Cycling is still a hobby.

Where did this leave me? Its not a decision I really regret, and as a matter of fact I have just registered for the 2022 edition of Berlin-Munich-Berlin. That’s right, the full 1,500 km. I think that’s pretty crazy. In any case, it should certainly make for a cool blog post.

-MT

PS. And in case you were wondering, despite the bike shop not being able to repair my Triban and nobody else being able to help, I eventually found a free Saturday and fixed the problem, albeit using some creativity. Good as new. Who knows, if my career doesn’t work out, perhaps I’ll become a bike mechanic and open up my own bike shop.

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