BMB22 – Part 1 – First Steps

BMB, three little letters. For the last few months however, to me they have meant both promise and dread in equal measure. For those of you dear readers who have been following my blog, this may ring a bell. Berlin – Munich – Berlin.

What is it?

1500 kilometers of unassisted cycling starting from and ending at the Berlin Olympiastadion, passing through eight checkpoints including Leipzig, Regensburg, Munich, Regensburg (again) and Dresden, all within a maximum time of 128 hours (just over 5 days). BMB is a cycling event known as an audax or brevet, now in its third year, and regarded as the longest distance out of the common 200, 300, 400, 600 and 1000 km events, similar to Paris-Brest-Paris or London-Edinburgh-London.

Since getting back into cycling in 2020, I have focussed my time on shorter distances, such as races of up to 125 km, and my longest ride in a single day was 330 km, which was a training ride for last year’s Berlin-Munich audax. Whilst I scratched last year, BMB22 will be the longest ride I’ve ever attempted, requiring me to ride 300 km each day for five consecutive days. This will clearly be a physical challenge, however I suspect the real challenge will be psychological.

I now have just under 2 months to do my preparations before getting to the start line. I will be writing up my preparations and a race review here, so keep an eye out over the next few months!

Lightweight bikepacking kit on my CAAD13, including Tailfin rack, top tube bag (for holding Haribo), toolkit, and feedbags (for nibbles and gadgets). This may work for BMB, but I’ll need to test this – a frame bag and/or bar bag may be useful additions (or excess baggage).

In the meantime, what’s the plan?

In my favour – I’ve already been training of sorts, in that through my daily commutes over the last 2 years, as well as my winter training (interrupted by illness earlier this year), I believe that have built up a fairly good base fitness. I regularly go on longer rides, and I intend to increase the distance and total ascent of these rides to prepare myself for the undulating terrain I may expect.

I plan on using my Triban RC120 road bike, as it offers a more comfortable geometry than my racing bike but more speed than my hybrid, it’s robust and is easy to repair on the go. I’ll need to service it to ensure its in good order, and I’ll need to test out my bags to ensure I can carry everything I need for the 5 days, but without excess weight or aero drag.

Still to do – I still need to practice skills I will need, such as physical and mental endurance, riding in the heat, riding at night, navigating unknown areas, eating and sleeping on the go, and working out what I need to take with me (clothes, tools, spares, electronics, other). I’ve already prepared a kit list but I’ll need to test this.

I have a full time job, so training will be interesting. I’ll continue to commute by bike to work to keep up my base fitness, but increasingly I will take a longer way and add in some hills, introducing high impact interval training (HIIT) sessions. I have a few races coming up, so training for these will also help.

Over the next few weekends, I’ll try to include longer rides of 100 to 150 km to build up endurance, a couple of 300 to 350 km rides which should be achieved within 24 hours, and finally several 2 day rides, aiming for 600 to 700 km to simulate the day-after-day effect. During this, I’ll be developing my skills and testing and refining my kit and bike setup.

One additional point is that I’ll have to figure a way of getting to Berlin with my bicycle and kit. Easier said than done – I don’t want to faff around with flying, the few trains that go there don’t seem to take bikes (in one piece at least), so the only option seems to be a Flixbus. I’ve never tried taking a bike with them before, so it’ll certainly be a learning experience.

– MT

Have you tried any similar long distance rides or races? Do you have any tips for me or other readers? Please leave your comments below!

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