365 kilometre Randonnée – my metamorphosis
Kilometre 0: my alarm clock rips me brutally from my unusually short sleep at 3 in the morning. I have something to accomplish today: a journey from Nuremberg to the holiday destination Schluchsee on a racing cycle. This is not normally my event; my training distances rarely exceed 130 kilometres. But I want to give this type of marathon a try. Though, I still manage to wonder why I decided to do this as I make coffee in a trance-like state. I am not normally a morning person, but there is already no turning back.
Kilometre 10: In any case, the weather should be great. And with that thought, I ride away at 4:00 am through the frostily, nocturnal Nuremberg towards the south-west. The usual westerly-wind is bearable and the streets are amazingly quiet. Thanks to the lighting I am not reliant on my battery-powered lamp. With a little bit of caution, I can ignore red lights and quickly find my normal rhythm. I experience the “pleasure of driving” and the rolling tin cans which are sold under that slogan can’t beat riding through nature under my own power.
Kilometre 40: I have left the city far behind, the sun is slowly rising, and it starts to warm up. I sweep through the quite Franconian villages. Only the cats run casually home from their nightly hunts.
Kilometre 90: I take my first break at a service station just north of Nördlingen. A roll, two bananas, a can of coffee and re-fill for the bottles. Its slowly warming-up to a nice temperature and I feel fresh and alert. I am still managing a pace in the 30s without a problem. I know that its actually too fast for a long distance, but after weighing the issues, I decided to keep with my normal pace as long as possible. I will slow down automatically.
Kilometre 190: Some kilometres past Ulm. I have now been under way for seven hours. A bit more than six of those in my seat. It has probably been enough already. I sit on a bench on the shadowy edge of a forest, the birds are singing and after three rolls with cheese, I feel like taking a short nap. The hilly Swabia almost has the feel of paradise in the light of a warm summers day. I would really just like to enjoy the moment, but I need to get going again.
Kilometre 240: I have arrived in the empire of agony. The sun is annoying and blinding, the traffic is of course just as bad, even the bird songs sound like naked taunts – what are you doing, you stupid person? – and with every incline, I feel the urge to give in to the pain in my thighs. Just get off, lie down in the meadow among the flowers, so tempting next to the road, oh, just to stretch my back and relax my tight shoulder muscles…
… Kilometre 270: It is 3:00pm, I have been riding for ten hours and the end is still nowhere in sight. Here, near Tuttlingen, it is just now starting to get mountainous. I’ve given myself a 45 minute break and stretched out on a bench. I just want to close my eyes for a little bit. The droning of the insects has settled down and I am able to find some peace.
Kilometre 290: The speed is finally gone. I started to slow down after 150 kilometres and since then have been going slower and slower. But I am now starting to see the tenacious slopes of the Black Forest rise in front of me. I have no ambitions left. I just want to be finished. And so the chain keeps chattering in the lowest gear, trying to find a rhythm that doesn’t hurt and where the breathing is halfway stable. I feel dull and wish I was numb, if only I could feel nothing. I nature is the last thing I care about right now. I just stare at the 10 or 15 metres of asphalt in front of me. I need to keep going, how I do it doesn’t matter.
Kilometre 320: Is it euphoria that I feel for being so close now, or are the endophrines that long-distance riders always talk about finally kicking in? After a short break on a short summit with a view, I feel in harmony with the world. I have experienced the landscape in the truest sense of the word, and as I stand here, I can view the prettiest countryside in Germany. I have made it to the road. Like some robot device, I keep rolling the last few kilometres, I am only occasionally aware of myself. My body feels like it is packed in soft cotton far away from here. I catch my first glimpse of Schluchsee around 7:15 pm and breathe in the smell of the water.