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From Aachen to Munich

Getting ready for the @swissbikeadventure and @thetranscontinental

A road bike, 600 kilometers, and a few unforeseen events – my ride from Aachen to Munich was anything but boring. And with a delay of almost a year, it actually worked out. The whole purpose was to gain more experience in bikepacking. How long can I ride at a stretch without “overdoing it”? Which equipment fits? What settings on the bike may need to be changed?

The start in Merkstein near Aachen was full of anticipation and energy. With my Canyon Grizl, and compared to the ride to Heilbronn and back in May, with slightly modified setup and luggage, I set off. This time also on time and not with great delay. Already at the start it was very warm and two really hot days should follow. Good, if you have three drinking bottles with you. But shortly after the start, after about 10 km, I had to realize that I had already lost one of my drinking bottles on the saddle. The remaining two bottles had to be enough now, and there are enough supplies at gas stations. Not even another 10 km later, my bottom bracket began to make strange noises. Even though these noises should remain until the finish in Hohenkammer, near Munich, everything held. But that was already all the little problems of the tour, well, almost all.

The further kilometers to the Rhine were effortless, and I could enjoy the beautiful landscape to Bad Neuenahr to the fullest. In the course of the afternoon along the Rhine there were again and again smaller rain showers. However, I always found an opportunity to shelter. If you’re not in a race, there’s no reason to get rained on to the skin. So the rain showers couldn’t take away the fun of the ride. On the contrary, they made the air fresher and more pollen-free.

I passed through picturesque villages, green forests and breathtaking landscapes. After crossing the Rhine “on the A6” in May, this time I decided to cross the river in Worms. Clearly the better choice. No stairs and no noise. In the meantime it was already getting very dark. So I reached on the eastern side of the Rhine already the third state, after North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate now Hesse. My idea to bypass Mannheim and instead drive a bit northeast through a forest turned out to be a wrong decision. On the satellite images of the popular map services it looked like tarred roads, but unfortunately the tar was really chewed up by extremely many holes. I did not dare to drive more than 20 km per hour in the darkness. 

On the bumpy stretch, my aero handlebars also began to adjust slightly in the inclination. But that was unproblematic and I could / had to) correct it again and again until the finish. It was due to the protective films that were stuck on the handlebars. The heat was probably too much for the foils.

Shortly after Heidelberg, after about 320 km in Baden-W├╝rttemberg and thus fourth state of the tour located, it was time to look for a place to stay for the night. After a long day in the saddle, I was glad to take a break and recharge my batteries. A good spot in a meadow with wood piles was quickly found. The night was quiet, warm, and without rain. In the morning when I started it was still fresh. But quickly I was back to operating temperature, which was also due to an excellent coffee in a bakery.

Afterwards, the day brought a new challenge – the heat wave. The temperatures rose to around 30 degrees Celsius, and the sun burned down mercilessly on me. So it meant being constantly on the lookout for water. Fortunately, there are opportunities almost everywhere, be it gas stations, stores, or even cemeteries, where drinking water is usually available. To make things even more challenging, an unpleasant headwind accompanied me the entire way. It seemed like it was blowing towards me every time I reached a hill or tried to reach a faster speed. The headwind made it harder, but I took it sportingly. Grappling with fate doesn’t help on tours like this. It is what it is.

After about 500 km, most of the elevation gain was behind me, and I treated myself to a popsicle at a gas station. The wheel stood thereby a few minutes in the blazing sun at a sheet metal mailbox leaned. The speedometer indicated thereby flabby 45 degrees Celsius. It was at this point by many reflections really like in an oven. So nothing like further down towards the Danube to enjoy the wind. Around the Danube, in the meantime in Bavaria and the fifth state of the tour, it became noticeably flatter and I made good progress despite the wind. From Aiching it became a bit wavier again, but without really longer climbs.

Towards evening, the sun had set maybe 5 minutes (about 21:20) I arrived at the finish. As a reward there was a non-alcoholic beer and homemade lasagna.

And what was the learning effect?

1. the bag setup was not as optimal as I had hoped. This time I had decided instead of a handlebar bag and the small Seatpack to take only the large Seatpack bag. From the volume do both variants nothing. Without handlebar bag it should be a bit more aerodynamic. I had the same feeling. But the large bag sways more than the small, the weight distribution is more unfavorable, and if you heranmuss to things that are stowed in the large bag to support, you really have something to do. Especially to stow everything properly again afterwards. At the @swissbikeadventure I will use the setup with handlebar bag again.

2. no protective films under the clamping of aero handlebars.

3. the drinking bottles behind the Sattem must be secured extra, so that they do not lose during the ride.

The breathtaking scenery, the small victories over adversity and unforgettable moments of joy – all this made this bike tour an unforgettable adventure. It showed me that it’s worth stepping out of your comfort zone to gain new experiences. So, grab your road bike and venture on a journey that will challenge you physically and mentally – you won’t regret it!

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