Five tips to make travelling your lifestyle

In the last 10 years, I have lived on three continents, five countries and about 30+ places. Some of them weren’t longer than a month, one lasted for an entire six months. It was almost worth noting down the address. I truly love travelling, moving around and meeting new people and cultures. I am not afraid of moving to a new continent without knowing a soul, the language or the culture. In fact, I thrive on the excitement of experiencing new adventures.

Rather than travelling, I call it moving because I do immerse myself into my surroundings, in fact that is a must for me. I don’t like to be a tourist and prefer to stay where the locals live and do what the locals do as told here.

Although moving to an unknown places seems scary at first, there are ways to make this an amazing adventure. Here are few tips:

  1. To make moving easy, I own just enough stuff that I truly need, nothing more. Despite being an absolute bike addict, I only have one bike. Carrying extras of anything makes me feel weighed down. The adventures I am experiencing discredit any materialistic belongings. Stuff weighs me down. Experiences lift me up.
  2. Be happy with yourself alone. Don’t be afraid to be alone in a new country where you don’t speak the language or understand the culture. Yes, it seems at first overwhelming and scary but exactly those intense emotions you will never forget and appreciate even more because they make you feel alive.
  3. Smiling opens doors. There is no better way to communicate. Enough said.
  4. Be proactive. Moving into a new country but then hanging out in front of the TV is not worth the effort. Get out with or without a plan. You learn so much from looking around.
  5. There is no better strategy to learn than observing. Find out why the locals do certain things. How they behave. How they interact. What is different than what you are used to and why could that possibly be?

Travelling is an enriching and rewarding experience. Just buy a plane or train ticket and get out! With or without plan.

Because life is a journey!


How a dating service gets you through a 1000km race – Tortour in Switzerland

Three weeks before the race

I got a strange email question from a still unknown person : Would I want to join a four person team for the Tortour? Ahemmm YES!.

I knew about the Tortour too well. It`s a 1000km race around Switzerland with 14,500m elevation gain that not only requires some serious physical fitness but, if not more importantly, a well organized support team, a similar format as the Race Across America.

So from one day to the next I was on the team to join them only three weeks later.

I would learn soon I had the fortune to be on a fantastic team that not only was organizational top notch but funny that would even make the most serious German smile.

And here goes the story in pictures and videos:

Thursday, 14 August: Morning

Everyone was excited on the way to the race (f.l.: me, Stefan (racer), Isa (racer), Ariella (support))

 

 

A lot of gear is required with the hope you can find it when you need it.

 

Every racer got a box which should minimize chaos. I successfully created chaos anyway.

Thursday 12pm 

At the race briefing. Being surrounded by 500+ other excited racers and supporters made for an incredible atmosphere. If you werent excited before this briefing, you are definitely now! The anticipation was rising!

Thursday 15:30

Then, the prolog in the afternoon. Merely a kilometer or so of high intensity to place the teams into an order for the next day.

We won the prolog in our category. That meant we start first at 2:33AM, a minute ahead of the second placed team.

Friday 2:30AM Start

The starting formation. The team to the right and the follow vehicle behind.

 

Just imagine about 130 vehicles with `Caution Bicycle ahead` driving around in Switzerland….Bikes rule the next 48 hours
No idea why we were waving to the follow vehicle. I (pink arm warmers in the front) was occupied with other things apparently.
And then the countdown. 1000km ahead

 

 

Ariella and Mirco…let the fun get started

Friday 10:30AM: 8 Hours – 233km

There were three team stages (first, middle and last). The other ~850km were split between the four racers.

We had highly concentrated drivers. Not only the cyclist had to ride 1000km, our support crew had to drive those too!
I wasnt aware that we had a mountain goat on the team. This woman can climb!

 

The views were breathtaking….in two ways.

Friday 14:30 PM 12 hours – 340km
As hard as we were working, we had at least the same amount of fun (here on the way up the 14km climb, Flüela pass.)

Friday 18:30 – 16 hours – 480km

Not a lot of rest time between the individual stages: Transfer to next check point, eating and getting clothes ready for next stage do not give a lot of time to relax
The weather couldnt decide. It was sunny. 10 minutes late it poured down.

 

Saturday 4:00 AM – 26 hours – 770km
After some 30 hours of having fun and riding, the energy was slowly draining and I got tired. My last shift (before the team stage) was about to start. It was 4am. 26 hours on the road. 50km to ride to the next check point.

It was dark. It was wet. I was tired.

10km into my stage, I was falling asleep on the bike and swerving around the lane.I needed some entertainment. I asked our support team to tell me a story.
Of all the stories Barbara could tell me she chose to give me the pros and cons to date her two brothers. After a 30 minutes very entertaining monologue she decided herself, it might not be a good idea to date either of them.

And all of a sudden I was at the checkpoint.

Saturday 13:29 34 hours: 1000km

After the last team stage and 34 hours of being on the road we crossed the finish line.

 

We made it! From left: Max, me, Isa, Stefan

Then, the entry into the arena onto the stage with our song. No matter how often I watch this video I am still getting wet eyes. It brought all the fantastic memories into one moment.

 

The moderator asked me three questions back-to-back. Sleep deprived, I forgot all of them and answered my own.

Thanks to a fantastic team: Stefan, Max, Isa, Ariella, Barbara, Betty and Mirco!


Preparing for a new level of EPIC – Alpenbrevet

There is no shortage of tough rides in the Alps, especially considering the endless possibilities of climbing up passes without a lot of flats between them. This ride was a preparation for the highly respected Alpenbrevet race. I was pretty exhausted after this ride of 147km and 4,300m elevation. The Alpenbrevet with an additional 130km and 2,700m elevation gain will ask for a new level of toughness in two weeks.

The route:

The elevation:

Barely any flats, climbing from 500m up to 2,400m

 

 

 

 

On the way down from Grimsel with the view towards Furka Pass

 

But before testing my climbing legs, the non-stop 1000km Tortour around Switzerland will challenge the endurance of my team and I. With a highly organized five person support crew, a camper, a follow vehicle and a loooooot of food, we are ready for the challenge starting this Friday EARLY morning. We hope to cross the finish line 39 hours later, Saturday evening!

You can follow us via live tracker. Link will follow.

Oh, this race will be so epic!


A new challenge and number game: Cycling all Swiss passes

When I learned about the infinite cycling possibilities here in Switzerland I thought it would be quite appropriate to add another challenge (in addition to surviving all the races) to my to-do list: Riding all Swiss passes (above 1200m).

According to Wikipedia:
There are 105 passes that need to be conquered with a total of 137,000m (449,475ft) of elevation gain.
 (That`s more than 1/3 on the way to the moon or 15 times up Mt Everest)

Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_der_P%C3%A4sse_in_der_Schweiz#mediaviewer/Datei:Schweizer_Passstrassen_ueber_1200.png

That means for me another 81 climbs to go and 94,496 m to climb.

Any interest in joining me for a few kilometers of elevation gain?


Tour du Mont Blanc – 330km with 8000m elevation
This weekend`s cycling tour led through Switzerland, Italy and France hitting climbs like
  • Col de Champex (9.3k, 560m elevation),
  • St Grand Bernard (45km, 2000m elevation),
  • Petit St. Bernard (28km, 1287m elevation),
  • Cormet de Roselend (20km, 1100m elevation) and
  • Col de Montets (11.5km, 420m elevation)
….all around Mt. Blanc.
We had every kind of weather. From cool Spring-like temperatures while crawling up Grand St. Bernard to Mediterranean heat in Aosta, Italy having lunch in a park to damp and rainy weather in Ugine, France to clear sunshine in Chamonix.
It`s fun cycling through three different countries with different food options, weather and terrain. We stayed in small ski resort towns that offered cute hotel rooms with a homelike character.
Here is the route with some pics:

 

The route
The pain measured in elevation
Fantastic weather

 

A glimpse to the Mt. Blanc

 

Tunnels – sometimes so dark you have no clue where you are riding

 

St petit Bernard….Not so petit though with 1,300m of climbing!

 

Since we just crossed into Italy, a crostata had to be on the re-fuel menu

 

What a view!

 

 

Sunshine on the ascent, mystic fog on the descent

 

Cycling in the clouds

 

View to Martigny, our start and end point

 

Turquoise lakes

 

Another view to the Mt Blanc
On next weekend`s agenda will be Italy with climbs like Stelvio Joch, Gavia und den Mortirolo.
Picture source: http://www.chamonix.net/english/summer-activities/cycling/tour-du-mont-blanc 
Photo Credit: Paul Boerner

 


Mountains + Lakes + Cow bells = Cycling in the Alps

If there are routes from the Giro d`Italia, Tour de France, Tour de Suisse, Tour de Romandie basically at your foot steps (or an hour train ride away) it was clear it would be only a matter of time that I start racing again here in Europe.

Having moved to Zurich seven weeks ago was a surprise. But an awesome surprise. Just looking at the riding possibilities it is like a cyclist playground. Last week I rode through the Black Forest in Germany, this weekend, I am heading to the famous climb to Chamonix, France. And next weekend I am staying in Bormio, Italia to ride the 21km climb (13mi) up the Stilfzer Joch….partly for fun and partly for training because all of a sudden weekends are filled up with races.

The Alps region has incredible and TOUGH races to offer. In fact every weekend if desired.

Last weekend`s 230km (142mi) Engadiner Radmarathon with 3,800m (12,500 ft) of racing was just the tip of the iceberg. On 23. August, there is a true climbing test: the famous 280km Alpenbrevet with an entire 7,000m (23,000ft) of climbing. Just a few days beforehand, the Swiss version of Race-Across-America (RAAM), the Tortour challenges the racers with 1000km through Switzerland.

Oh yea, and then there is a race in Mallorca in September and a training weekend at Alpe d`Huez.
With the very centric location, Switzerland not only offer national but international cycling experience: Whether you want to enjoy a crêpe two hours West in France or a home-made pizza two hours South in Italy or a Linzer Torte two hours East in Austria or Black Forest cake two hours North in the Black Forest, Germany. Destinations are infinite and the variety for cycling unbelievable.

I will be posting all my rides on twitter (@MonikaSattler) for those who are visiting the heart of Europe and need some riding routes.

Here are some pictures from some of my cycling tours and two amateur videos.

View from the train towards where we are heading

Arrival at the train station

On top of the Furka Pass

More Furka

In the distance: Grimsel Pass

Klausenpass
Along the river back to the train station

The video is turned to the side but it`s the sound that counts.