Facts, numbers and opinions after 15 days:
Hours on the bike: 101
Elevation gain: 38000m
Toughest day: Stage 10. I rode the 200km with 4000m solo on only 4 hours of sleep. The entire day I had to fight the big urge to sleep. The headwind made it even tougher. When I reached the top of Covatilla, I was so happy to have completed this stage.
Toughest climb: La Camperona. It was so steep that I was scared if I fall off the bike, I would roll down the mountain. Because the road was so small, there was also not a lot of zigzagging options.
How are your legs feeling??? Although the legs are important, the mind is what gets me every morning up at 4:00am and across the finish line after 6-9 hours of riding. I am way more concerned to recover my mind every day than my legs. This challenge is 80% mental.
Do you have the feeling to be well prepared for this challenge? I knew that no matter what I do I would never feel really prepared for this challenge; however, I knew I had to do a few things to get my mind and body as well prepared as possible. For my physical preparation, I rode 1100km from Mallorca to Munich in 5 days and trained in Andorra for a week. My mental preparation has been going on for years as I always push my mental limits on the bike in one or other ways by participating in tough events like the 330km/8000m Tour du Mont Blanc or the 2650km Haute Route Triple Crown. I knew it will be tough but if I stay mentally strong, there should absolutely no reason why I cant finish.
And, have you got the feeling getting better or stronger along the way? I have gotten stronger along the way but not that I go faster but my fatigue level is a lot lower now. I can handle the amount of daily riding a lot better than in the beginning.
How many Kms did you average and for how long for your preparation? What is your best recovery routine for being ready for next day- physically amd mentally? Besides my Andorra and Mallorca to Munich trip, I didn’t really prepare for it. I just rode my bike and had fun. The last thing I wanted to get is to hype up with preparation that I would start this challenge mentally exhausted and have less desire to ride.
Recovery is the most crucial part of it. I take every day a multivitamin, Glutamine and BCAA post-stage. I eat a good lunch, usually the local cuisine: Octapus, potatoes, fish, rice. I don’t really stretch and I only got twice a massage but apparently it is not super necessary for me. I had some knee issues due to weight loss but when I increased my seat position by 1cm the knee problems left.
Mentally was more important. I keep myself quite contained from outside information, opinion, etc. I talk usually keep my conversations only with the people who are travelling with me. I try to keep stress to a minimum and stay in the quiet, cool hotel room as much as there is day left (usually only to sleep).
What tires do you use and are you happy with them? I use Vittoria tires and I love them. I have no problems with them in the heat, rain or hail.
What do you eat for recovery? I am a big believer in real food. I eat what my body craves but I still had a few rules: no sugar and no dairy. So, fruit was as sweet as it gets. On the bike, I eat tortilla, rice with tomato sauce, fruits, ham, etc. There were only three times that I needed a gel for quick energy in 15 days. Off the bike, I eat what the restaurants offers and my body wants: currently it is octapus but I already had a phase of only rice and tortilla.
The climbing looks brutal. Do you have any tips for managing long ascents and steep gradients?
Have a great conversation partner who keeps your mind off what you are actually doing. Talking is my medicine for getting through tough parts of the day.
How is the way back to the hotel after the stage? Quite long which makes the day very long. I finish the stage usually around 14:00, then sometimes a 2 hours drive to the next hotel and in the middle we are stopping for lunch. We arrive usually earliest at 17:00 at the hotel. Long day!
What is your trick for sleep and rest every day at a new place? As long as I can cool down the room to 20 degrees, I almost can sleep anywhere. The night before the Covatilla stage, we stayed in a cheap hotel without air conditioning and I couldn’t sleep for more than 4 hours. Since then, the minimum requirement of each hotel is AC.