My first time 200 kilometers by road bike
Sandra tells her very personal story of her first 200 kilometers on a road bike. In doing so, she shares her insights, her thoughts and her story, and clarifies how it came to be that she set out on the long journey alone. It depends not only on the strength in the legs, but especially those of the mind.
It’s been some time, but I keep thinking back to my very first 200 kilometer tour.
In June 2017, I ventured to this distance for the first time. In this article, I would like to share my experience with you: Why did I want to cycle 200 kilometers? How did I motivate myself? What did I eat? Which things were good? What would I do differently?
Why 200 kilometers?
When climbing, running, and even cycling, there have always been and continue to be magical marks that I look and look respectfully toward and hope to crack at some point or have already cracked. For example:
- the first time climbing a route of a certain difficulty
- the first time pre-climbing
- the first time running 60 minutes, 10 kilometers, half marathon, marathon
- the first time cycling 100 kilometers
- the first time cycling 200 kilometers
- and so on and so forth…
Today I’m talking about the route from Berlin to Leipzig, which, depending on which route yout take, is 200 km long. I wanted to meet this challenge and cover the distance in one piece. In Berlin I visited my grandma and started my tour from there.
How did I plan my route and how did I navigate it?
I planned the route from Berlin to Leipzig using Komoot. For this I entered start and destination address, selected road bike as bike type and adjusted the route so that as few as possible major roads and federal highways are in my tour.
At the time, I didn’t have a GPS navigation device for my bike, but my running watch can also store and display routes. On the watch, however, the route is displayed only as a line with an arrow. The arrow is the own position and the line is the route. I can not see a map on the watch, zoom in and out is also not possible. Especially on racing bike routes, the navigation still works quite well, because the line shows the direction in which you have to go.
Thus, you can guess where you have to leave one road and turn onto another. On tours with many off-road passages, it happened more often that I rode past a road into which I should have turned. Overall, though, it helps to approach places with potential turnoffs more slowly. I’ve been able to avoid going the wrong way first a few times by doing this.
A little tip at this point: When I use the watch to navigate on the road bike, I don’t wear it on my wrist, but on the handlebars, so I can look at it at any time.
For the beginning of my cycling days, the watch was a faithful and helpful companion. At some point, however, I replaced it with a GPS navigation device, at least for cycling.
How did I motivate myself along the way?
I had arranged to meet two of my favorite people right after my road bike ride. Of course, I didn’t know in advance exactly when I would reach my destination, as breakdowns, headwinds, food breaks, puller breaks, and other expected and unexpected events could cause delays. To keep the two of them up-to-date on when I would arrive and, that I was doing well, I took it upon myself to send them a photo and brief progress report every 25 kilometers, or about every hour.
This also immediately divided my route into several sections. I no longer had only the big picture in mind, but always the next 25-km mark, the next photo. I paid meticulous attention to when I would have reached the next 25-kilometer mark. Then I pulled out my cell phone and usually took a selfie while riding and sent it without much text to it. Of course, short responses came back, giving me an extra dose of courage and motivation.
What did I eat on my tour?
From my drawer filled with bars and gels, I put together a colorful mix in advance. First, because I wanted to reduce this “collection”, which consisted mainly of giveaways from starter bags from various events. And second, because I could pack the bars well and they could sit in the bags for a good few days without going bad. I had also planned to stop at a coffee shop to have a piece of cake. Or two.
Like the status message I sent every 25 kilometers, I also ate something every 25 kilometers, usually half a bar. So the hourly photo also reminded me of the food intake during the ride. But I didn’t have any coffee or cake, because I was so into driving that I didn’t feel like stopping anywhere. Only my two water bottles I filled up once, so that at the end of the day 4 x 600 ml were emptied. Not even that much for 8 hours in the saddle!
At the end of my road bike tour I would have liked more food, but I had already polished off everything. The last hour I was then pretty hungry. But since I had rained wet in the meantime, I did not want to stop now either.
And how was it?
Full of euphoria I started my tour in the morning. First of all out of Berlin. That was annoying, because I had to stop, at least felt, at every single traffic light and, because of course, many cars were on the road. Later it became more beautiful. I enjoyed the fields and forests as much as my hourly updates and was fully motivated!
At some point, when I unfortunately don’t remember, it became exhausting and I wanted to arrive. This was also a reason not to make a cake stop and not to look for a cafe. But I was so full of euphoria and despite exertion quite motivated and looked focused towards my goal.
About 25 kilometers before Leipzig, so to speak on the home stretch it started to rain. I put on my rain jacket and continued. Despite the jacket, I got chilly at some point. But I was right there anyway, so it didn’t matter. The closer Leipzig came, the clearer it became that my route would be 197 instead of 200 kilometers long. But I didn’t care, I was hungry and cold. Arriving after almost 200 kilometers is certainly just as cool!
The final kilometers
First in Leipzig I decided at short notice, to add a small round, which I knew would cover exactly the missing 3 kilometers. 3 kilometers more in the rain was no longer important. Suddenly the number was more important to me than food or dry clothes. I had finally decided to cycle 200 kilometers. Actually nonsense but as I said, there are always such magic marks in the head, at least in mine. Proud and satisfied, I finally rang the doorbell, happy to receive a warm welcome, a shower and a meal together.
In the evening, I actually wanted to go to a running meeting. But, believe it or not, I was very knocked out and had more fun lying on the sofa with these two lovely people and relaxing to the max.
Overall I would do the tour exactly the same again, only a little more food would be an option for improvement. Meanwhile 200 km is not so special for me. I now have a GPS navigation device with map. Nevertheless, the following points lose nothing in importance for me on my tours:
- Intermediate goals help me stay motivated
- I find it helps when someone knows where I am, it feels safer. To do this, I often share my live track with my partner.
- It is important for me, that I eat regularly and do not immediately ride out all the energy at the beginning.
- Even without high-end navigation device, you can cycle 200 kilometers on unfamiliar routes.
- Riding long distances alone, does not mean to feel lonely.
- At the end of the tour, the motivation increases again and that helps enormously to reach the goal