After 4166 kilometers I crossed the finish line with a whole ten minutes to spare and became 2018’s proud lanterne rouge.
- 280 entries
- 251 starters (100%)
- 153 finishers (61%)
- 130 in time (51%)
- 98 scratched (38%)
- 2 still riding at the time of writing
- Total distance of all riders was over ¾ million kilometers
Hello, Dolomites. After a slowish introduction to climbing and some pesky mechanicals, I got into the groove and gained a couple of places through each control, enjoying every passing kilometer.
- #186 CP1: Bielerhöhe, 1-Aug 21:31
- #172 CP2: Mangart, 4-Aug 5:41
- #156 CP3: Karkonosze, 8-Aug 6:01
- #136 CP4: Bielašnica, 12-Aug 20:00
- #130 FIN: Meteora, 15-Aug 21:50
- 18 border crossings
- 16 countries (15 new)
- 4150 kilometers
- 45000 meters climbed
- 50000 estimated by Free-route
- >5x the height of Everest
- 3x visits above 2000 meters
- 5x visits above 1500 meters
Freeroute had some missing data before CP1 due to a tracker malfunction and while Strava is great for segments, comparisons and flybys, it misses out on the minor details (read: routing errors) that can only be fully appreciated in RWGPS.
- 408 hours total (16.9 days)
- 197 hours moving (48%)
- 211 hours stopped (52%)
- Stops exceed moving time
- Twice as much time up as down
- 124 hours ascending (63%)
- 73 hours descending (37%)
- 21 days from home, including flights and travel
Longest days were right at the start and finish, starting with 372 kilometers in 18.8 hours on the first day and ending with 314 kilometers in 16.4 hours on the last day.
Fastest average was 255 kilometers in 11 hours on a relatively easy (perhaps unplanned rest) day 13. It may not sound like much, until you factor in vertical meters.
Most climbing in a single day came towards the end, on day 15, with 6900 meters over 203 kilometers in 13 hours. Ten days in total had climbing of 3000 meters or more.
- 21 km/h average
- 78 km/h maximum
Missed out on a perfect opportunity for 100 km/h in Austria, but with failing rear brakes I didn’t want to take an unnecessary risk.
I’m not one for Strava but couldn’t help spotting two trophies. One for the fastest on TCR and third all-time down the Kalampakas-Grevenon downhill (just before the end) and another for a more substantial two-hour Szekszard-Udvar effort (probably keen to get out of Hungary), finishing marginally behind James and Stephane. Also happy to report I ranked close to or tops in most segments for my weight division — except the longest climbs.
Food for thought
Cycling over the Alps and other hills proved to be a great diet, as I lost 14 kilograms over 16 days, ending below 100kg for probably the first time since high school.
I almost exclusively ate empty carbs from convenience stores and only remember having five healthy sit-down meals in over two weeks on the bicycle.
Being summer, I drank over 12 liters every day, including at least two beers (so many to choose from) and countless Radlers (which, coincidentally, is German for cyclist).
I slept an average of four hours per day, anywhere and everywhere, including parks, benches, garages, restaurants, bus stops, behind shopping centers, a car wash and also in a barn —
But only one night in a hotel, treating myself after 1880 kilometers (roughly half-way), as I crossed the border into Czech Republic on day 8. Plus a couple of hours at CP4 in the foyer of Hotel Han, unplanned, like most things during the race.
- Countless arachnids, at sleep spots
- Many dogs, some in packs
- Massive snake, too tired to care
- Wolf-like demon, looked well-fed
- A bear across the road, FFS.
- Emotional — Job’s speech
- Best — every single day
- Worst — last stop in Italy
- Climbing — Dolomites, CP3&4
- Cumbersome — navigating Vienna
- Facepalm — sprinting North
- Dangerous — trucks in Hungary
- Favourite country — Bosnia
- Unexpected — wolves and bears
- Belgium (0km)
- France (125)
- Switzerland (595)
- Germany (630)
- Switzerland (644)
- Austria (792)
- Italy (1042)
- Slovenia (1313)
- Austria (1406)
- Czech Republic (1878)
- Poland (2118)
- Czech Republic (2176)
- Austria (2456)
- Hungary (2666)
- Croatia (2970)
- Bosnia & Herzegovina (3094)
- Montenegro (3456)
- Albania (3639)
- Greece (3990)
Finished in magical Meteora after many memorable kilometers. I loved every second of it and would go back in a heartbeat. Find out what happened en route here.