I biked the Berlin Velothon 2011

My main goal in the Skoda Velothon Berlin 2011 was not to be picked up by the “Besenwagen”. I’m not sure what it is, but it doesn’t sound good. It’s some kind of vehicle that drives after the bicyclists and picks up those who are too slow for the race. I suspected I might be one of those. A police officer on a motorbike even asked me before the race: “Are you gonna bike on that?” Referring to my Stevens Randonneur, a touring bike. Almost all other participants had road bikes.

So I’m an amateur. But I love biking, and I love biking fast. Especially, I love biking on roads – I hate the bumpy bike paths that prevent you from using the road. In fact, only a week before the race, on my second test ride, another police officer admonished me to use the bike path. So for me, biking the Velothon was partly a way to reclaim the roads, so to speak.

I hated that second test ride, not least cause I had to take a detour through the woods which totally destroyed my bike (and my Nikes) – think wet sand, needles and leaves in all orifices. And cars everywhere – I must remember to always bike on Sundays from now on, that’s when the streets are the most empty. So the second test ride wasn’t much of a training. In general, I had trained very little, because I had so much to do in other areas of my life.

So I was very pessimistic about the race.

Remember my first test ride? It took 2:50 h in total, 2:30 when only counting the rolling time. My average speed was 26,4 kph (16,4 mph). And I was exhausted to the verge of collapse afterwards.

Ok, last Sunday was the race, Europe’s second biggest event of the kind: 15,000 bicyclists, 5,000 of whom would bike the short round (60 km/37 miles) with me.

We started out fast. I gave everything in the beginning, gazing nervously at my bicycle computer that told me we hadn’t even biked 5 kilometers yet. Would I hold out to the end? Well, I did! I used some downslopes to rest a bit, and I was careful to drink water and iso-drink every now and then. I didn’t stop a single time.

Among the 4,273 male bicyclists in my race I ended up on place 1,571. I biked the whole round in 1 hour and 50 minutes, giving me an average speed of 35 kph (22 mph). All according to the official measuring (the actual route was a bit longer than 60 km).

I’m immensely proud of those results, especially considering my bike, my condition, and the fact that it was my first race – I’m really not the sporty type.

Racing was so much fun! Imagine lots of other bicyclists riding at the same high speed as yourself. We were riding the same streets that I often ride in my everyday life, although this time there were no cars around and we didn’t have to care about traffic lights. I was filled with happiness at many points in the race. I want to do this again – as soon as possible!


Next year I’ll use a road bike. With SPD pedals. I also want another thing: A team. Stay tuned for that …

Here’s a picture that some photo company took of me (I don’t care to buy the high resolution version) – I’m the one in the green-yellow jersey:

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