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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