zaterdag 19 mei 2012

Ride to SPEZI. Day 1: Unprepared rider to the pedals.

Finally the report of my ride to the SPEZI and back. It was quite a task I had attached myself to: 3 days to ride to SPEZI through hilly Sauerland and 3 days to get back along the flat Rhine. During the winter I had almost only been riding to work (2x5km) and my only preparation for longer rides was three rides of about 100km. Feeling that my body needed a tough challenge anyway to get myself somewhat into shape again, I said to myself that it would have to do. Given that there was also going to be a reunion of the ROAM "veterans", there was no question that I would ride ROAMango there. This despite the fact that I had been riding my grey Mango Sport all winter. I had lend ROAMango to my sister for most of the winter and it was still in Twist (near Meppen, Germany). I had been planning to collect it beforeheand, but time was running out and since Twist was on the route, I agreed with my sister that she (in fact it turned out to be my brother-in-law) would pick me up and I would start out in Twisk. This would cut the 1200km ride by 75km, but would mean that before I got to ride, I had to adjust seat and BB bracket position to my size. I also lubed the chain, pumped the tires and the DT Swiss rear shock.

After setting off towards the Youth Hostel in Munster, I had to adjust the BB7 disc brakes several times to get them to brake exactly equal. On flat ground it's not a big problem, but I was going to meet hills later and in a fast downhill you don't want your velo to veer off into one direction or the other.....

destination day1: youth hostel in Munster

Cycling in Germany is completely different from the Netherlands. Munster and Groningen are both cities where many people cycle, but in Munster the facilities are not nearly as good as in my hometown. The cyclepaths are mostly horrible, narrow and in town space is shared with pedestrians. Now really! The discontinuity of cycling routes is very bad for me as a long-distance cyclist. Especially outside the cities I prefer the safety of the segregated cyclepath, but the quality is so variable that many times I feel that I'd better switch to the road. This is often a dodgy maneuver because of all kinds of obstacles between cyclepath and road. I would navigate a lot quicker when, like many German velomobilists, I would default to the road. I really do not feel safe there though.... I mean, there are blind bats in all traffic categories, but the ones in heavy steel cages are definitely the scariest. Despite this, I am experienced enough to deal with that. I just can't help but thinking about the less confident and very young cyclists that are put off by less safe conditions. When that happens ultimately only the sporty riders and thrillseekers remain and cycling for getting around town will suffer.
It's a shame that Germany does not seem to identify cycling as a viable, non-pollutant and healthy way to get around that should be encouraged more by means of safe cycling for everybody, especially since they are doing very well in the field of alternative energy sources: I saw many roofs covered with solar panels and huge windmills were abundant.

I could have done more however to prepare a decent route myself though. I was just going South and checking my Garmin now and then to see if I was going roughly the right way. So with the inevitable detours, it still took more than 200km's to get to Munster.

part of the track, not the shortest route (cough)

Knowing my sorry state of fitness, I had planned to take it easy, but in hindsight my average heartrate was 147bpm. What!? Too high for long distance cycling, so no wonder that after a shower and a good meal at a Greek restaurant I felt very sleepy and I went to sleep early to be fit for the next day when I would meet the first serious hills.

So far to the uneventful first day, things would get more interesting in the following days.....