Starting a ride without a defined route or any plan, except with the distant goal to reach a destination 1100km ahead promises excitement and adventure.
Last Thursday, I set off to ride solo from Mallorca (via the ferry to Toulon, France) to Munich. As I am not big on camping and like to travel light and fast, I had a 1kg string bag with me and chose hotels along the way. There is nothing better than a comfy bed after a full day of cycling.
My prediction to completing this ride was between 5- 10 days – a big time span but weather, route choice and other unpredictable factors like mechanicals could change the riding time per day drastically.
That I made it in 5 days was due to incredible fantastic weather and absolutely no problems with my Scott Addict Gravel bike.
My biggest concern: The ferry from Alcudia to Toulon
Although I have done something like this in the past, I am still nervous. On this trip, I was especially worried about the ferry ride. I imagined staying in this tiny cabin with 3 other sweaty, snorring people, not being able to sleep and starting this adventure with a big sleep deficit. Maybe I must have watched too much Titanic because my experience couldnt have been further from the truth. I had even a cabin for myself, slept amazingly and woke up seeing the shore of France! What an incredible start to this adventure!
Day 1: Toulon to Sisteron – 170km
The first day was about getting into the `zone`of riding all day long. It does take a bit of time to change my mindset. As I had no route planned, I navigate by street signs or do occasionally check with Google maps. But I found if I had a predefined route, I lose a bit the feeling of adventure and discovery. With these trips, I try to disconnect from stuff. After 170km of riding straight North, I had to stop in Sisteron as further North the chance to find a hotel was small. I went into the tourism office and they got me a hotel just outside of this beautiful town. After washing my cycling kit and eating dinner, I went to bed very quickly.
Day 2: Sisteron – Aix les Bains – 208km
Today was the first day where I had full control of when to start the ride (the previous day, the arrival of the ferry determined my start day). I had breakfast and around 8:00 I started riding. It is incredible riding so early in the middle of France. The air is fresh but warm, few cars on the road and the atmosphere is peaceful. Early mornings are my favorite times to ride. This part of France is not very mountaineous yet, more fields and rolling terrain. I got into a steady rythm that allowed me to totally zone out.
Day 3: Aix-les Bains to Ins, Switzerland – 221km
After two days of solid riding and getting into the daily rhythm, I started to think about how many days I really could take for this adventure. Of course, it was not about getting to Munich as fast as possible, but I realized that without exaggerating the daily amount of riding time there is a possibility to finish in 5 days. My requirement was to finish every day between 16:00- 18:00 for several reasons. During this time frame, I am already quite beaten by the heat so it is good to get out of the sun, it is a good time to find a hotel and go for dinner afterwards and it is enough time to relax and disconnect a bit from the the day, physically and more importantly mentally recharging to be excited to ride again the next day.
Day 4: Ins, Switzerland to Weingarten, Germany – 260km
For some reason, instead of feeling more tired, I felt better and better as the days went on, especially mentally. It is such a great feeling being under the sky for the entire day with the only concern of getting an odd flat tire.
Day 4 was exciting in multiple ways as this was the day I would enter Germany. Due to the route I took, I not only entered Germany once but 5 times riding back into Switzerland only to enter Germany again. And because the borders, especially on country roads, were not clearly marked, I had no idea anymore what country I was actually in. (You can see that on the map below between Waldshut and Schaffhausen)
Another exciting part of this day was the ferry ride across the Bodensee. It was a great feeling of taking a look around the area before arriving in Meersburg to keep pedaling again.
Day 5: Weingarten to Munich – 181km
When I woke up I had a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand, I was excited to arrive in Munich seeing my family and have accomplished this ride but on the other hand, it felt like that these last 5 days went by too quickly. I loved the days of heading towards a destination, crossing countries, experiencing the different subcultures even within a country. It was such an enriching experience being so close to my surroundings but still fast enough to see more of it in a short amount of time. I arrived early afternoon at the Marienplatz, the center of Munich, greeted by my dad. It was such an incredible feeling of accomplishing something that required the bold decision to just head and do it while facing the unpredictabily of this adventure with excitement. Such an experience makes me feel alive, brings me back to what really counts in life and brings out this feeling of personal achievement.
A special thanks to my family, friends and sponsors and those who have send encouragements and virtual support my way.
It made my day!
This Sunday I return to Mallorca, prepare for my corporate speaking engagements in England and for the talk at Eurobike. Then, I will be heading to Andorra to train in the mountains followed by pre-riding the Germany Tour mid-July. Very exciting weeks ahead!
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Last Thursday, I set off on the ferry from Alcudia, Mallorca (Spain) to Toulon, France to ride my bike about 1100km to Munich. I had a tiny bag with me and no route planned. I wanted to indulge in full adventure mode and go whatever comes my way. Below are the statistics of the ride (plus Strava route at the bottom):
Route and riding
Total distance: 1029 km from Toulon (where ferry from Alducia, Mallorca landed) to Munich
- Day 1: 170km
- Day 2: 208km
- Day 3: 221km
- Day 4: 249km
- Day 5: 181km
Total Elevation gain: 7613m
Days including sleep: 5
Time spent on the bike: 38,7 hours
Total riding time with breaks: 46,1 hours
Time off the bike during the ride: 7:13 hours
Average speed: 26,5 km/h
Total stops: 15
Calories burned: 18133 calories
Total sleep time: 8+7+6+4=25hours
Countries crossed: 4 (Spain, france, Switzerland, Germany)
French provinces: 2
Swiss cantons: 8
German States: 2
Bike and bag
Bike used: Scott Addict Gravel
Components: Shimano Ultegra
Tires: Continental Grand Prix 4000
Weight of carry-on bag: 1kg
Number of flats: None
Number of tires pumped up: 2
Number of oiling chain: 1
Most important piece: passport
Incidences as a solo female: None
Main fuel: croissants and coffee
Total costs for hotels: 60+80+60+60€=
Ways to find hotels: tourism office (Sisteron) online (Aix les bains), walked in (ins, weingarten)
Reason to stop for night:
- No hotels within the 50km (sisteron)
- Enough for today (alb, ins)
- Getting too late (weingarten)
Country borders crossed: 7 (multiple times between Switzerland and Germany)
France: easy to navigate
Germany; moderate (not all bike paths are a good decision do take for someone who wants to go faster than 15kmh)
Kilometers getting lost: 5
Main advice for doing an adventure trip for first titime: go through a familiar country where you speak the language and know the customs on the road. Start small to get a feel for it. Have fun. These trips are about exploring and about adventure.
For solo female: a tracker is a good way to stay safe. Evaluate situations like dont use paths or roads that seem shady or where there is no way to get help. (I am not talking about the odd kilometer here or there but long stretches that are deserted. Be smart. Stop before the dark sets in.) Most people are more impressed than anything else that you do it alone).
If there is anything missing, just let me know 🙂 Pictures, videos and the story will come in the next post.
Greetings from Ins in Switzerland!
Today was day 3 of my 1100km Mallorca to Munich adventure cycling trip. 600km into the ride, I have received questions how I do it…so I want to use this opportunity to answer them:
Do you have a planned route?
I have no route planned and dont use any navigation tool. I follow street signs and my compass. In doubt, I use google maps. However, I prefer navigating the road. Especially, on long routes, google maps does not always give the best way, especially navigating via google maps bicycling route.
How do you choose your stay for the night?
I choose spontaneously when I feel like it is time to stop. That also means there is no pressure to reach a destination. Especially during multi-day rides, if there is bad weather, too much wind or I feel fantastic and want to ride longer, I am able to adapt.
You dont take any shoes with you?
No. I dont really need them as I dont walk anywhere. If I do need them, I buy cheap flip flops for €2 which I most likely trash after usage.
And only one cycling kit?T
That’s right! I wash it every night.
How does your daily routine look like?
I wake up at around 7:00, have breakfast in the hotel, start my ride, have lunch either in a cafe or supermarket, keep riding until I feel like being done and then search for a hotel either through the tourism office, online or walking into a hotel. Then I take a shower while washing my cycling kit in the shower, charging all devices, then dinner, then feet up and finally go to bed.
What do you for food?
I eat oatmeal with fruits and green tea for breakfast. For lunch, I look for anything I can find and is relatively fast en route, like a bakery or supermarket. For dinner, I go to a restaurant and have meat, carbs and salad. During the ride, I dont eat that much and I only drink water.
You ride alone? Why?
Yes. But it is not that I choose to ride solo. I just create a plan and if someone can join me thats awesome. But if not, then I just ride alone. Riding solo or with someone are two completely different experiences. Riding solo is really more about self-discovery and full responsibility. Riding with someone is sharing the experiences and adds more entertainment.
I hope that gives a better picture of my adventure cycling trips. If there are any questions answered, feel free to comment below or or send an email.
As preparation for The Vuelta Ride, I will be riding on 14. Juni from Mallorca to Munich – with nothing but a little bag with a T-shirt and shorts.I have no idea about the route yet and plan as I go. I will stay in hotels along the way.
While wearing my Superwoman outfit I will be visiting children hospitals to experience the other side what a big challenge can mean.
This is for the children in the hospital (Thanks to Cycling Friendly for the cap contribution. They will love it!):