Looking back at the BBBR2022, it was a great experience. The route through the Bohemian mountains was as challenging as it was beautiful. Steep climbs and descents made it one of the most brutal and challenging routes I have ever ridden.
Unfortunately, 6km into the race, I already encountered tire issues. A long walk back to start, and 3.5 hours later, I re-started. The chase was on! At the end of day one, I caught the first riders, and on day two, I was in the mid of the field. Making long hours and shortstops was my strategy, and in the following days, I slowly gained a better position in the race.
The conditions were not easy. Cold nights were the hardest. The first night I slept outside in the forest in a small wooden cabin. The forecast before the race mentioned minimum temperatures of about 8 degrees Celsius, but the temperatures dropped around the freezing point. My lightweight sleeping bag has a minimum of 6 degrees, so you would understand I did not sleep well.
Furthermore, rain and changing weather conditions during the day made you reconsider your clothing choices all the time. It was jacket on or off, having it too warm or too cold. Combined with the challenging route, the pace was slower than expected. Every rider that I spoke to was behind their expected schedule.
Due to the cold weather, I wanted to sleep in a hotel for the 2nd night. This offers some comfort, but it also costs a lot of time. There were barely any hotels on the route; thus, to find a hotel, you had to go off route. Another challenge was that most hotels in small villages are closed after 10 PM, which shortens your potential riding hours for that day. Due to the cold, I was happy with my decision to sleep in a hotel. However, next time I will definitely bring a warmer sleeping bag.
Each following day went OK, but all mornings are tough in any ultra-race. Waking up around 4 AM and starting cycling before 5 AM always takes some time to get back into your rhythm. The legs hurt, the body is tired and hungry, and your butt does not prefer to sit on the saddle again the whole day. ;) In the morning, my pace is always slow, and my body is in survival mode until there is a village with a supermarket, bakery, or just a gas station. Any will do if they have coffee and some food. After that point, the pace increases, and you pedal as long as you can.
On day 3, I slept outside again at CP4, it was still cold, but I gained some positions in the race each day, which boosted my motivation to catch more riders. I was now riding within the top 20 with some riders very nearby. At the end of day 4, I caught some riders having dinner in Telc. It was around 8 PM, so I joined them for a good dinner. And however, I could go for another few hours, I decided to book a hotel, sleep early and start early as well. A good decision because there was some heavy rain coming.
At the start of day 5, I noticed I was not the only one with this strategy. Already in the first 10 minutes, I saw three other riders who started early, around 4:30 AM. Luckily I could drop them and start chasing the top 15. All went well until I got three flats in a couple of hours which caused a lot of delays. Due to the issues at the start, I did not have any spare inner tubes left and had to patch the inner tubes. This way, I made it to CP6 but could not continue before buying new inner tubes. The stores were closed, and I had to wait until the following day. This would mean half a day delay upon the delay I already encountered. A combination of my personal situation at home, physical (exhausted, saddle sore, and increasing sickness), and bike status, I decided to scratch from the race. Unfortunately, because the top 10 seemed possible, I’m still convinced it was the right decision. Maybe I’ll try again next year. ;)