We’re back from the 24 hours of Munich (quite a while actually). The plan was to rock this race. The plan worked.
Munich 24 is, accordning to the organizers, the biggest 24 hour race in the world. The course is set up in Munich’s Oympic Park where the summer games of 1972 took place. It’s not a technically challenging course in the strictest sense, but it’s narrow and very twisted and it’s often hard to find a fast line through all the corners.
The last years I have been part of an 8-person-team together with Petra and some really good friends who are spread out over southern Germany and meet, besides other occasions, once per year at the 24-hour-race in Munich. This year we ended up being 12 riders plus some friends just coming to support us. We splitted us up in two groups, an 8-person-team and a 4-person-team. I was stupid enough to ride in the four-person-group, consisting of two 29″ singlespeed riders (Bertram and me) and two 26″ geared riders (Christian and Michael).
We did our best to be prepared: Although the week before the race was really hard at work and I got way to less sleep I managed to do a bunch of longer rides the weeks before. And we tried to bring all we could possibly need: Two camping cars, three tents, a complete workshop setup, spare parts, different tires for wet and dry conditions and of course beer and a BBQ for the evening before the race. My friend Urs, who unfortunately could not ride due to illness, even had a notebook running with an excel sheet where he estimated the times for the rider changes in both of our teams.
Did I say tires for wet conditions? Well, soon enough we realized we would need them. On Friday afternoon it began to rain. It rained the whole night, I could hear the drops hammering against the roof of our camping car. It also rained on Saturday morning when we woke up. We were even unsure if they would start the race at all. However, one hour before the start it suddenly stopped and the show started as planned at noon. They had shortened the course a bit due to the wet conditions but still it was fun to ride and not as bad as I thought it would be when the organizers announced they had taken some of the more challenging passages out of it.
My friend Bertram rode the first lap on his singlespeed Singular Gryphon and afterwards we found a nice rhythm that we were able to keep during the afternoon. I mostly did three laps in a row (which made around 75 minutes of riding) before I handed over to the next rider. In the late afternoon even the sun came out and I had some fun laps right after sunset. The 8-person-team which Petra was part of also was running well at a steady pace.
At that point our 4-man-team was on position 86 of 101. Given the really strong competitors in the 4-rider-category this was not disastrous but also not brilliant. By the way: We even met some other Singlespeeders, among them a guy doing the race solo on a fixed gear road bike with a front brake only!
When I came back from my first night shift around midnight I went into the camping car to get some sleep – and then I heard it again: raindrops. More and more raindrops. When I got out of the car an hour later it was literally pouring down. It was more or less the same conditions as during the legendary Schlaflos im Sattel 2011 (for those of you who have been there…).
I still felt really good, so I put on my full rain gear and headed out again. The course was … well, a bit muddy. Actually it had turned into a slippery brown something. However, somehow it was fun to ride through the rain. So, I did three more laps and then handed over to Michael. When he came back from the course it was daylight again. The conditions even had become worse. It was cold and most of our clothes were wet by now.
It was around 6 in the morning and I considered to scratch the whole thing, but then I thought about old badass Michael Cleveland who right now rides through the Rocky Mountains crazy miles a day at the TDR. Compared to that, I decided that at least two more laps in the rain where pretty doable. One more time I grabbed the bike and headed out. After an hour I came back to our camp to discuss with Bertram, Michael and Christian what to do. Nobody really was willing to go out into the rain one more time. However, the race organizers made the decision for us: While we went for a hot shower, they closed the course and stopped the race after 20 hours. As it turned out, or decision to keep riding through the rain while many other teams stopped pushed us 15 more places up in the ranking – we ended up finishing on position 71 and we are quite satisfied with this result. Personally, I did 14 laps or 136 kilometers summing up to a bit more than 7 hours on the bike.
All in all, I am totally happy with this race. It was meant to be (and it turned out to be) the highlight of my cycling year and I am glad I could spend it with really good friends who made this weekend something special. Thanks to my friend Urs who organized most of the stuff for us, thanks to all the others who have been there with us, especially to Michael, Christian and Bertram for signing up and riding in the four-man-group!
See all you guys in a couple of weeks at SiS!
[All pictures: Sportograf.com]