19 February 2011

Der hohe Berg (high mountain)

The only way to add significant elevation meters in and round Bremen is, when you accidentally ride over a cow. So naturally I was very curious, when a fellow professor (sic!) told me that close to his home town called "Syke" a substantial bump in the landscape would perhaps provide the ideal training ground for Transalp 2011.

Well of course I was not expecting something of the degree of Odarumi Toge, but I thought that at least some slopes would be present. Another cold winter day in Bremen with temperatures hovering around freezing point was awaiting me outside. I fixed some of the bikes in the morning and got the Cervelo ready for the first time this year. So far I have used only the Gazelle (Rain), Bad boy (Snow) and the Peugeot (to show-off). But today the roads were at least dry, so I pumped up the tires of the Cervelo for the 2011 virginal ride.

I hate cold feet. So I wore some light summer racing socks, over which I put some thick woolen socks. On the outside of the cycling shoes I wore the Assos show covers plus an additional rain/windproof shoe cover. No chance, 30 minutes on the road and my feet were cold as liquid nitrogen.

By the way: Assos. I bought an extremely nice Assos Air Jack 851 limited edition, yes, you guessed correctly, in orange. I even own the matching head gear. I am not a big fan of Assos, but nevertheless some of their products are very good I believe (air jack 851, shoecovers, early winter gloves, robocap....) But they are also very pricey. When Assos pops up in my mind the next thought is always "Rapha". I don't even own one piece from Rapha - not that I don't like their stuff. I think they did a lot good for design in clothing and advertising.

Assos designers have difficulties to design decent zippers with functional sliders. The old shoecovers I owned had a metal slider attachment in the shape of the Assos "A". Depending on the design and the matching of sizes between the shoes and the shoe covers, to put them on can be a real hassle. It was almost impossible to close the zipper without bloody fingers, as he slider attachment was really hard to grap. After a while they broke off as there are to brittle. Really a poor job, given the fact that otherwise the shoecovers are a) warm and b) very expensive.

I have wore the air jack perhaps 4 or 5 times and then the slider was also broken. Send it back to the seller last week. Will get a brandnew jacket next week - I hope it will hold.
Saturday Update: Got it back just new. A beautiful new jacket. Some type of slider though. Claim processing in Germany is really wonderful. However I wish they would do it right the first time.

Perhaps I could wear my bib shorts over the base layer, extend it towards my neck and fix them there with some safety pins as Carol Ally is showing here.

I left a 1 PM ..wow. the Cervelo felt so great, after riding all this old bikes for the last months. The Cervelo was like a ... rocket .. a spaceship .... stellar performance. But as I said, it was cold and the wind was very strong. I rode out of town, then along the river Weser on the West side in direction South. Normally I stay on the East side of the river, very rarely I venture out to the West. Dreye, Kirchwehye, Barrien... I mention these names because perhaps Ludwig got a paramedical training in one or the other village. Cold, windy, cloudy, not too much green, long straight roads, no fun.

Finally I made it into Syke, and yes, there were some hills there. I enjoyed the climbs, although no one got me more than perhaps 15 m elevation difference. And even that is probably grossly overstated. It took a while before I found the road to "der hohe Berg" but I couldn't see any rise in elevation. The road was flat as.... as....as any and all roads here are flat in the area.

The I noted that the street on the right side was named "der hohe Berg" so I made a right turn and followed the road to its end. And there it was the high hill: A whopping 3 meters above average surface level that warranted the construction of an observation tower.

Total elevation above seas level: 63 meter. If you climb the tower, about 20% more.
But be careful, the tower may swing which is , as a warning notice explains, "due to nature". I personally feel that it is more likely due to "poor engineering" or "poor construction execution" or perhaps to the laws of physic. Only after that, one may be allowed to blame nature.

OK, my feet weren't getting any warmer so I rode home and fiddled around with the Faggin frame. If this bike will ever get ready, it will become a very interesting one. My goal is to built a very light bike for Bremen, actually the lightest bike I ever had - without me. Meaning? Well I am a little bit tired of this theoretical discussions about weights of bikes; like 41 cm frame size as representative. And I never understood why bike weights are always measured without pedals? You need pedals to ride a bike, right? Just as you need a handle bar or wheels. And when you ride out you need a water bottle, a repair kit, a pump, some lights and and and..... So let's define this as the bike riding weight: Get naked on the scale, then dress up, make yourself ready for the ride and get back on the scale with the bike in your hands. How much is the difference?

Of course I will use some small cheats. For example I will not mount a front derailleur. I have one, but why should I mount it? I never ever used a front derailleur in Bremen. Unless I accidentally ride over cows, of course.

Well, the next months I have to train hard, so that in June David, Juliane and David again don't have to wait for hours on top of every fricking pass in the alps. Why did I come to this conclusion? Because recently I had an interesting telephone conversation with Hiroshi. He said, that David is training hard and shed a lot of weight, so he became really fast and has tons of stamina. Enough for every single pass in the alps. I, on the other hand was assuming that I was the faster rider per se (although, I have to admit, I have been faster only for a very short period in time: in 2008 my goal for Fuji hill climb was to "tonikaku" beat David regardless of the result). So my training for Transalp consisted of eating chocolate bars and doing long hours in the university until I finally reach the performance level of David. I wasn't aware of the very unfortunate fact that his performance level line over time was moving in the opposite direction. Some month ago our lines crossed (so that would have been the perfect week to tackle the Transalp) and now there is a considerable difference to my disadvantage. Shit, I have to buy another bike to compensate.


David L. said...

MOB -- If only Hiroshi's report was true. Maybe he accepted my aspirational statements as fact? ... as I sit here on a cloudy, cold but otherwise rideable Saturday, in front of my PC screen working on a new project that I am just hoping does not keep me from next weekend's Brevet, even as it has wiped out any plans to ride today.

I hope that you met your February 15 work deadlines and will have enough of time to train this Spring to implement your Transalp strategy, which I understand will be the same as your Fuji Hill Climb 2008/2009 strategies (tonikaku -- "regardless" in Japanese -- beat David to the top".)

Richard said...

MOB. I know you love your Gazelle, so I posted a link to some Gazelle videos over on the youtube faves thread at TCC.

Manfred von Holstein said...

Thanks for thinking of me, but my paramedic training was in Ritterhude and only there. I think I managed to visit Bremen, Bremerhafen and Hamburg on the weekends, but none of the mountainous countryside you are getting to explore. Anyhow, it's over twenty years ago, so I can hardly remember...

mob said...

Hello Richard,
Thanks for the Gazelle videos, the old ones are great. Durch bikes are extremely popular in Germany: Gazelle, Batavus and Concorde are the main brands.
I love my sturdy Gazelle as it has taken me safely through the winter and the rain.