03 TPBR – Race Summary

Here’s a very late summary of my 2019 Three Peaks Bike Race (TPBR); rather for the sake of completeness. And who knows, maybe there’s someone out there – a future TPBR rider or the like – who has some use for it. If you’re new to this blog and are looking for some more exciting and complete representation of my riding and racing, you may e.g. wish to check out my visual Transcontinental Race report.
In this post I’ll simply provide you and myself with some facts and figures of my 2019 race. I also added my short Strava descriptions of each ride, but obviously they don’t do justice in any way to the richness of my TPBR experience and the hundreds of situations and encounters I had, good and bad.

If you first want to find out what the race is all about, better start here: 01 TPBR – This year: Three Peaks Bike Race
If you want to find out about my preparation, check this: 02 TPBR – What I changed: Equipment & Racing Approach/Behaviour

Below you find some data and visual impressions on a daily basis. At the end you find a few overall stats.

But first: a map of my recorded GPS tracks; each colour represents one stint, i.e. a stretch I rode from one sleep stop-over to the next. If you click on the stint, you find a description with essentially the same data as in this blog post. For better usability, follow this link.

Day 1, Vienna – Linz

Start: Sat. 20. July 2019, 16:00h, Vienna, Austria
185 km, 1.110 m
Moving time: 7:10 h
Elapsed time: 8:45 h
Stopping time: 18%
Average speed: 26 kph
Finish: Sun. 21. July 2021, 00:45 h, Hörsching shortly behind Linz (Austria)
Sleep (end of stage): front roof of commercial building

Went quite smoothly. Had to stop once to sort out issues with my Wahoo Elemnt map display. Around 1:00 am at night a thunderstorm came up. Good timing to try to get some rest under the front roof of some commercial building. Surrounded by a raging storm. Didn’t really sleep. But was no other option really.

Thunderstorm while sleeping in Hörsching after Day 1, ca. 1 am at night.

Day 2, Linz – Haiming

Start: Sun. 21. July 2019, 05:37 h, Hörsching, shortly behind Linz (Austria)
313 km, 2.396m
Moving time: 13:10 h
Elapsed time: 18:10 h
Average speed: 24 kph
Stopping time: 27%
Average speed: 24 kph
Finish: Sun. 21. July 2021, 23:50 h, Haiming (behind Innsbruck, Austria)
Sleep (end of stage): Hotel

Dear diary, 

I had deliberately set my GPS track to a destination far beyond what I deemed realistic; just to give myself something to push towards. Surprisingly I managed to get there – despite the first 100km in the rain. 

I fell behind the field because I was one of the few who decided to have some sleep in the first night (yes, I learned from my TCR mistakes). But today I fought myself back to the front of the midfield. Surprising. 

Not surprisingly I‘m getting tendon issues due to that sudden spike of activity (there was rediculously little training) – I will set my cleats back to the middle of the foot before climbing stelvio tmrw, to relieve my Achilles’ tendons. 

Wonder where I will end up tomorrow; I.e. if I have to pay the bill for todays effort or if my legs are just getting started…

Strava entry, day 2

Day 3, Haiming – Lago di Como

Start: Mon. 22. July 2019, 07:17 h, Haiming (behind Innsbruck, Austria)
269 km, 3.377 m
Moving time: 13:10 h
Elapsed time: 18:45 h
Stopping time: 30%
Average speed: 20,5 kph
Finish: Sun. 21. July 2021, 23:50 h, North-Western shore of Lago di Como (IT)
Sleep (end of stage): park bench

I‘m exhausted.

Strava entry, day 3
Descending from Reschenpass
Climbing Stelvio with Music (Art Farmer – Modern Art)
Descending from Stelvio (westbound)

Day 4, Lago di Como – Torino

Start: Tue. 23. July 2019, 08:43 h, North-Western shore of Lago di Como (IT)
235 km, 973 m
Moving time: 10:30 h
Elapsed time: 14:50 h
Stopping time: 29%
Average speed: 22,5 kph
Finish: Sun. 21. July 2021, 23:33 h, shortly behind Torino (IT)
Sleep (end of stage): campsite

Heavy heavy… for me. especially with over 40 degrees in the Italian flatlands. 

Big climb tomorrow..

Strava entry, day 4

Day 5, Torino – Sault

Start: Mon. 24. July 2019, 07:26 h, shortly behind Torino (IT)
281 km, 4.350 m
Moving time: 15 h
Elapsed time: 29:30 h
Stopping time: 49%
Average speed: 19 kph
Finish: Thu. 25. July 2021, 13:01 h, Sault (Provence, FR)
Sleep (end of stage): launderette

I extended the ride through the night. Very ineffectively. But felt extremely uncomfortable in my dirty kit. And needed to change to my better bibs. Destination was Sault where there was a Laundromat. 

Tired.. we’ll see how the rest of the day goes.

Oh and… It’s my birthday.

Strava entry, day 5
Climbing the Colle delle Finestre with music
Approaching the Lac Serre Poncon around sunset
Pedaling…

Day 6, Sault – Sète

Start: Thu. 25. July 2019, 13:43 h, Sault (Provence, FR)
197 km, 397 m
Moving time: 8:45 h
Elapsed time: 10:50 h
Stopping time: 19%
Average speed: 22,5 kph
Finish: Fri. 26. July 2021, 00:35 h, Sète (Mediterranean Sea, FR)
Sleep (end of stage): hostel

Got my legs and my brain back. My very long but necessary break in Sault (eating, washing clothes, spending time deliberately aimlessly) took until ca. 14:30h. Considering that I’m quite content with these 196km even though it is far below what I want as a daily average. 

I cycled with very few stops and continuous pace. And even the land bridge before Sete was open and worked out great. 

Listened to the Podcast “Zeit Verbrechen”… kann ich sehr empfehlen!!

Strava entry, day 6
First time Mediterranean water

Day 7, Sète – Ax Les Thermes

Start: Fri. 26. July 2019, 08:18 h, Sète (Mediterranean Sea, FR)
223 km, 2.497 m
Moving time: 11:30 h
Elapsed time: 14 h
Stopping time: 18%
Average speed: 19,5 kph
Finish: Fri. 26. July 2021, 22:20 h, Ax Les Thermes (Pyrenees, FR)
Sleep (end of stage): hotel

Rain & Achilles pain

Strava entry, day 7
Approaching the Pyrenees with the occasional heavy rain shower

Day 8, Ax Les Thermes – Spain

Start: Sat. 27. July 2019, 09:17 h, Ax Les Thermes (Pyrenees, FR)
150 km, 3.315 m
Moving time: 8:45 h
Elapsed time: 12:30 h
Stopping time: 27%
Average speed: 17 kph
Finish: Sat. 27. July 2021, 21:53 h, shortly behind Spanish border, Pyrenees, SP)
Sleep (end of stage): hotel

Rough day for me. 

First overslept, cause I forgot to set an alarm. 

Then pouring rain almost constantly. Lots of climbing (two big passes) and obviously colder with every gained meter of altitude. Then after 1h of climbing realized I forgot my wallet in the hotel. Back down and back up in the rain. – while being soaked. and even colder when in that state you descend: further cooling wind and no work to keep you warm. 🥶 after the descend from arcalis Ordina I kept shivering for 30min in some café. 

Checkpoint 3 (last one) done. 

But a great conclusion: Found a fabulous little hotel just behind the border in Spain. 

Dialogues you never hear: „Where shall I put my bike?“ – „I suggest you just take it on the room.“. Here that actually happened ❤️

Strava entry, day 8
Singing in the Rain – On Arcalis Ordina

Day 9, Andorra – Barcelona

Start: Sun. 28. July 2019, 06:42 h, shortly behind the Spanish border (Pyrenees, SP)
220 km, 3.369 m
Moving time: 10 h
Elapsed time: 11 h
Average speed: 22 kph
Stopping time: 27%
Finish: Sun. 28. July 2021, 17:41 h, Barcelona (SP)

Finished Three Peaks Bike Race on Sunday, 17:40h after 2100km/22000m/8days. 

Wow… today I was on fire. Started at 7 and basically went through without a break. I took over 3 other racers who got up much earlier and had a headstart of at least 50km. Very satisfied. Also overall: with this trip I doubled my yearly mileage 😂 – involuntarily there was hardly any training. So, i‘m quite astonished I managed to finish at all. 

At the finish line I was sprayed by Rainer with sparkling wine and treated with a cold beer. Thanks SO much! 

Thank also to YOU followers for your interest and messages of encouragement. It was highly motivating to know I was not alone on the road.

Strava entry, day 9
Cycling through a canyon
Approaching Montserrat on the final parcours

Overall…

Total distance: 2073 km
Total elevation: 21784 m
Total time: 8 days, 1 hour, 45 min
Stopping time (weighted): 27%
Daily mileage: 260 km
Daily elevation: 2723 m
Sleeping: 4x Hotel/Hostel, 4x bivy/other/none

Lessons learned…

A) I should reduce the stopping time (27%) by a lot. E.g. bringing it down to 10% could increase my daily mileage by 40 km to 300 km/day
B) a ride/sleep rhythm by day/night works. I should even more fight the impulses to ride on at night.

02 TPBR – what I changed: Equipment and racing approach/behaviour

Many of you have read my post on my preparation for last year’s Transcontinental Race No06 in which I provided plenty of information on my equipment but also route planning & “training”. In hindsight i have to say: It mostly worked out really great! My gear was well suited for the situations I encountered. In some instances where I thought beforehand “Malte, now you’re overthinking it” I was really glad I made my choices and did my research. E.g. my gearing, bringing a spare rear-derailleur-hanger, etc… Bags, tires, clothing, electricity… all worked like a charm! The only problems I encountered were induced by myself directly (aka: crashes and being too tired).

That’s why I will ride the Three Peaks Bike race with the essentially same gear setup.

You can recap last year’s setup in that afore-mentioned blogpost and in the “gear” menu.
However I did a couple of adjustments and will split this into:

A) Changes I made to my equipment (incl. things I will NOT bring this time)

B) Planned changes to my racing approach and behaviour

First, a couple of pics I took today…

 

 

A) Changes to my equipment

2019-07-04 01.27.11.jpgDIY-work on my shoes:

My (back then) new Shimano S-Phyre shoes worked great on TCR. I mean: Until shortly before the end of the 4000km I had no foot issues, which is remarkable. However: By the very end of the race I became aware that I had a very swollen ball of my right foot that started impacting my pedal strokes and needed a while after the race to cure. Later I figured out what it was: Where the screws go into the carbon sole of my S-Phyre shoes, there are cavities in the sole. The soft insole didn’t protect my foot from feeling that hole, and hence got pushed in a bit very locally. This year, to bridge the cavities, I cut and glued in some punctured aluminum sheets. My verdict based on the couple of training rides: It works! feels very solid.

2019-07-15 22.51.42-1.jpg
comparison new vs. old sleeping mat

Lighter/smaller sleeping mat

I already had a light mat by Therm-A-Rest, but when I saw one that packs much smaller and is lighter, I immediately envisioned how much more compact that would make the drybag I’ll strap under my aerobars. So I bought it: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLight

Socks

I had never thought about what socks I wear. Always just wore simple H&M cotton sneaker socks. Just a recent hiking day in proper hiking socks made me notice what a difference that can make. Indeed, I often felt my feet were wet and not much air was getting through. So, the simplest thing on earth: I got some proper, simple, thin, short-cut, synthetic cycling socks: Endura CoolMax Race II
Awesome! Feels much better indeed! Not expensive. And it didn’t take me any time to get used to it.

2019-07-16 21.49.20-1.jpgLuxury item: Bluetooth speaker (maybe)

Headphones are often fine and I will bring some; sometimes it’s perfect to escape into that sound bubble. Only when the traffic circumstances allow it of course; on long, monotonous stretches. But at some time that isolation becomes tiring, and climbing up in the heat – sweating, breathing heavily – with plugs in my ears just doesn’t do it for me either. Last year on Vrsic Pass I tried for the first time to listen through my phone speakers. Art Farmer – Modern Art. But obviously those phone speakers sound shitty, esp. when facing surrounding noises.
So, yes, I’m seriously considering bringing a Bluetooth speaker – JBL Clip 3.

Fixing my seat pack even more

I love my Specialized Bubba (10L) seat pack because it is rocksolid: Due to the little aluminum frame that attaches to the seat post it does not sway to the sides at all. That’s why I bought it in the first place. It is held up by a though strap – it works, but still the bag sags down a bit so usually it ends up hanging ca. 5cm below the saddle, which is not a real functional problem. But somehow not aesthetically pleasing and simply not satisfying from a design point of view.

But no more! Luckily I discovered two threads at the very back of my Specialized Power saddle whose position coincides with two eyeletts on the bag. So I built something to fix the bag up, using: two M5 steel screws, two metal stripes that I cut to size, two flat washers and two layers of heat shrink tube to make it look better and smoothen the edges. It will be attached with cable ties that I also additionally wrapped in heat shrink tube. The result:

 

 

Extensive use of reflective tape

This is for two reasons:
a) I was a fan of reflective tape already and had quite some of it applied to my fork and seat stays anyway.
b) The race organizer of TPBR requires this, which I very much agree with. So I added tape to my rims, the crank, my helmet and my shoes. Originally the organizers also asked us to wear reflective ankle straps at all times; however, after quite some discussions they thankfully agreed that this should not be necessary. (I appreciate Michael’s flexibility on this).

Things I will NOT(!) bring on this year’s trip

A couple of items I never or hardly used last year on TCR06. I will leave those at home this year and it’ll save me quite some room and weight, too.

  • Sunscreen. Against all advice. I never used it last year and was fine. Also I hate the feeling of sticky, oily skin. I will bring a lip stick though.
  • Sebum. Brought some last year cause I wanted to make sure I have all the options to keep my behind healthy. But since I found out that the strategy of Assos-cream + wet-wipes + Bepanthen worked really well: No need for sebum any more.
  • Nylon grippers for overshoes. The idea was to use those to prevent rain from entering the overshoes from the ankle. But: I think a) it will not rain enough for it to be worth carrying them and b) my feet will first get wet form below. Those grippers were quite bulky and I hadn’t used them once.
  • Long-sleeve merino top. I only used it once: at 2:00am on 2300m altitude on Mangart Sedlo. I will not get myself into such a situation again. So, no need for it. My arm warmers (plus rain jacket) will be sufficient
  • Long rain-gloves. Didn’t use them once. And really: If it rains my hands will just get wet, and I hope it will not get too cold.
  • 2nd multi purpose bandana. I brought half a bandana additionally to my main one. Will just carry one this year.
  • Toothbrush for chain cleaning. No use for it. If I really need one I’ll buy it.
  • Spare cleats. I will just start with new cleats.
  • Passport. Won’t need it in Western Europe/EU

 

B) Planned changes to my racing approach/behaviour

There are many lessons I learned last year. I will at some point finalize my report on the TCR where you’ll find out more about what I learned. But briefly, these are the things I will change, mostly related to my sleep pattern:

Sleep more and in a more regular rhythm. Specifically I will make sure to stop riding at night. I think by 12h I should lie down somewhere and sleep for 5 hours.

Have fewer (no) crashes. This is linked to the previous point. During TCR I mainly crashed because I fell asleep. I want to avoid that this year.

Get up early and ride more in the early morning hours. It will be good for my motivation because by noon I will already have quite some mileage behind me.

Not viewing the Checkpoints as “landmarks” or places to rest or intermediate milestones. That way I will not be tempted to push too far to reach the CPs in the current stretch. Instead I will just reach them and move on – make my breaks depend on my reasonable riding/sleep rhythm and not on these artificial landmarks. This is easier in TPBR because a) all CPs are on mountain passes which are – due to their altitude, few facilities and low temperature – not really suitable for relaxed stays. And b) the CPs are not even manned; so they are purely virtual and there will not be anything to keep me busy there.

More continuity, fewer breaks. I should avoid faffing around and giving in to too many inviting stops (gas stations etc.). I should refuel plentifully instead to keep going for longer. Also I should pedal maybe even a bit more lightly.

Eating also salty stuff. Last year I started the race eating a LOT of sweet stuff and only noticed after the first two days that I completely forgot to get some salt. Got to keep that in check a bit.

I might think of other things to change and will possibly update this post accordingly.

I’m looking forward to the ride, and also to being in touch with you all.
(For information on how to follow me, check my previous post)
Your’s
Malte, Cap 36

 

01 TPBR – This year: Three Peaks Bike Race

Dear friends and followers,Ready for the race!

last year on the Transcontinental Race I made such great experiences, on the road, off the road, and with/through you online. So I couldn’t resist doing another bike race across Europe this year:

The 3 Peaks Bike Race – Vienna to Barcelona
starting coming Saturday (20.7.19)
16:00h in Vienna
(some facts/figures below!)

I’m very excited to participate… to meet the riders and roam our continent. A word of expectations management though:

This year I started my cycling season very late and “moderately”. And on one of the first couple of rides I had a (self-caused) crash in which I broke my right pinky. Curing it meant 7 weeks off the bike, which just ended last week = 2 weeks before the race start. So: Of course I have some plans as to what I want to achieve, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I couldn’t put out all the daily kms I wished. But who knows… another element of surprise! As if there weren’t already enough of those in this kind of cycle touring/racing, haha.

I’m very much looking forward to hearing from you while I’m on the road! It is incredibly encouraging!

Happy dot-watching!

Some facts and figures about TPBR:

  • Start: Sat. 20th of July, 16:00h
  • Vienna to Barcelona
  • via 3 peaks (checkpoints):
    • Passo Dello Stelvio (IT)
    • Colle delle Finestre (IT)
    • Arcalis Ordina (Andorra, Pyrennees)
  • no fixed route (each rider/racer has to plan their own)
  • self-supported (no support cars, no outside assistance)
  • non-stop (clock keeps ticking day and night)
  • ca. 2000km and >20000m accumulated elevation gain
  • ca. 100 participants (mostly solo, some pairs)
  • More information (incl. all riders): www.adventurebikeracing.com/threepeaksbikerace