Der Große Bayerischerundfahrt
The Bavarian 1200k
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The short version is that this was a spectacular and challenging ride through beautiful countryside on quiet roads with good company, although I had no end of difficulties following the directions.  I ended up 3.5 hours outside the time limit, having ridden an extra 180 km (112 mi).  Next year, I'm getting a GPS.

The long version is as follows:

The Nordbayern 1200k started in the small village of Osterdorf, which is about 40 km outside of Nürnberg.  It makes a big circle around Bayern, more or less circumnavigating the combined routes of the 400k and 600k I had already done from the same location.  The start and finish is in an old schoolhouse that is now a table tennis clubhouse, of which the organizer Karl Weimann is a member.  There was a pasta dinner the night before, and cots upstairs to sleep on.  The whole place is decorated with randonneuring medals and jerseys, signs and banners, photos, paraphrenalia, and the flags of all the countries that have been represented at Karl's rides.  

I arrived by train in Treuchtlingen on Sunday evening and rode the six or eight km over to Osterdorf just in time to catch the end of the brass band and the beginning of dinner.  Bike inspection on this one was a little more involved than on other rides I've done, in that for this one, they checked how much wear you had left on your brake pads and even insisted that you carry spares.

As always, I love to check out what bikes and equipment people use.  Compared with our New England rides, the German brevets see many fewer steel bikes and few tires wider than 23mm, and rarely fenders.  English-style saddlebags are not common, although small panniers and Ortlieb handlebar bags are.  Probably the most common way of carrying more stuff is with a seatpost rack of some sort, although I saw all kinds of strange ways of strapping stuff back there.  There were actually quite a number of riders who just carried everything in backpacks, which seems like unnecessary extra work to me, but apparently it works for them.  There were two other riders with singlespeed bikes Robert and Michael, and the latter was sporting a new flip/flop hub and started out with it on the fixed side.  But the fixed gear phenomenon is not as big in Germany as it is in the US, and I think the German randonneurs think I'm even nuttier than the American ones do.  There are also generally fewer women randonneurs in Germany than in the US; this ride had only three.

After breakfast in the perpetually fly-plagued schoolhouse, one of the ride volunteers played the national anthems of all the represented countries on the saxophone, and Karl and Heidi made sure that the appropriate people were there to hear and sing along.  Then, at the remarkably civilized hour of 10 AM, roughly 85 of us rolled out for an adventure of 1267 kilometers in 95 hours.  Contrary to tradition, it did not start raining (much) the moment Karl stood up on his ladder to address the group, although the rain certainly arrived later.

The first leg was through territory more or less familiar from the 400k and 600k I had ridden there earlier in the year, more or less generically Bavarian rolling farmland.  By this time of the summer, lots of the wheat had been cut down, although the corn was still standing, and the hops were tall and bushy on their supports.  German small roads take you from the center of one small village to the next, and the cue sheet mostly directs you that way, by the towns you're going towards.  Generally, this works out quite well, and the signage is usually very good, but I was to have no end of trouble with the directions later on.

For the first leg, I rode off and on with a number of different people, including Michael and Robert.  There were a couple of early climbs which, while not exceptionally difficult, were enough to split up the group pretty well.  Not wanting to push so early in the ride, I dropped behind the other two singlespeeds and didn't see them again except briefly at the first control.  

I arrived at the first control at 1:30 in the afternoon or so.  Not being used to starting brevets at 10 AM, I looked at my watch expecting it to be maybe 9:30 AM or earlier, and for a moment was very confused and even thought my watch had stopped until I realized that when you've ridden 3.5 hours starting from 10 AM, it is actually much later in the day than it is when you've ridden 3.5 hours starting from 7 or 5 or 4.  Funny how that works.  I sat down for a quick pastry and a coffee, and then rode onward.

By the second leg, the group was more split up.  I rode for awhile with one of the DC Randonneurs, a German expat named Lothar Hennighausen, but ultimately we separated when he said he wanted to ride slower.  Shortly after that came my first directional confusion, when I had to ask for directions to the town of Kemnath.  We had a couple of brief thunderstorms roll through just to get us good and soaked.  Then later on I had some confusion around I think Roggenburg or Meßhofen, which gave me my first ten or twenty "bonus K's".  In the light rain, I found one of those extremely useful map/info signs near a town line, figured out where I needed to be, and got myself back on track without needing to resort to my cell phone's GPS.  Yet, anyway.

The second controle was a rest stop off of the Autobahn, and one of the strangest-looking ones you'll ever see, with a roof whimsically decorated like something out of Dr. Seuss.  I met up with Lothar there again, as well as a handful of others.  I ate a mushy, overpriced, but filling-enough meal of cafeteria-type food there, and eventually moved on. 

I rode on and off with a number of different riders, some of whom used cuesheets and some of whom used GPS with the track provided by Karl before the ride.  One rather foreshadowing moment came when I was with a group of maybe six or eight, half of whom were using cue sheets and half of whom were using GPS.  We got to a certain intersection, and all the GPS riders went one way and all the cue sheet riders went the other way.  We were all convinced that we were right, and were doing exactly what the cue sheet said, and that the GPS people were doing something wrong.  Well, a few kilometers down the road, we met up with the GPS group again, and as it turned out, we'd ended up with some confusion and some crappy major road with lots of traffic, and they'd gone the better way.  I really should have taken the hint to hang out with GPS people for the rest of the ride, but I didn't.

As the leg went on, I ended up riding mostly with a rider whose name I've forgotten but whose Rohloff hub I clearly remember.  I didn't ask, but judging by the sound of it, he was going back and forth between the notorious gears 7 and 8 a lot.  We agreed to stay together over night, as it's easier to stay awake when one isn't alone, and the first controle with sleeping accomodations wasn't for awhile.  

On the way to the next control, which was a leg of about 103 km plus some extra which I'm pretty sure I added but can't remember where, we had some more rain storms rolling through.  I also managed to completely empty my water bottles pretty early on, and spent the last 40k or so getting thirstier and thirstier.  When we arrived at the Gasthaus zur Post in Roßhaupten, my first priority was something to drink, followed closely by dinner.  I chugged down a big glass of water, followed by two alcohol-free hefeweizens, a bowl of soup, a bowl of pasta, and some coffee.  Unfortunately, in my hurry, I think I chugged a little too fast, because as I took the last chug of coffee, everything decided to un-chug itself, much to my chagrin and to the alarm of the other riders in the room.  I ruefully got myself cleaned up, settled down for a little while longer, and to the surprise of some witnesses, got back out on the road after a stop a little longer than I would have preferred and considerably lower in net calorie intake than it should have been. 

My companion and I joined up with a somewhat larger group, some of whom had GPS's.  These turned out to be exceptionally useful, as we soon arrived at a road closed sign.  We rode around through the grass, encouraged by the visible bike tire tracks, only to find that the bridge over a little creek was completely out, and replaced at the moment by a couple of rather slippery-looking logs.  No one particularly wanted to try to negotiate these in cycling shoes carrying brevet-laden bikes in the dark, so the GPS folks had to find us a route around, after a good bit of discussion and deliberation.  This was another 20 km detour, albeit one which I think just about everyone had to make.  

Our group fluctuated and joined up with some others later on through the night.  I was getting sleepy, and started reciting all the poetry I could remember to keep myself awake, which was actually fairly effective.  However, around about dawn I always get my sleepy attack, and one other rider and I decided to take a nap in the Sparkasse ATM booth, where it was warm and dry, in the town of Kochel am See.  We slept for about an hour and a half, and woke to the early morning light.  I was mighty hungry, having eaten but then un-eaten my dinner, so we kept our eyes open for a bakery or something for breakfast.

We didn't find anything in Kochel (it's full of vacation houses, but apparently, vacationers don't need bread or rolls or morning coffee), and before long we started the first of several spectacular climbs of our second day. 

This one went from Kochelsee, a crystal clear Alpine lake, up and over at a perfectly steady 7-8% grade I think, with perfectly rounded switchbacks and perfect pavement, up and over and down to Walchensee, another crystalline mountain lake.  It was at the bottom of the climb that we finally found a cafe and stopped for breakfast.

While we were stopped, a few other riders joined us, and we left as a group.  From there, the ride took a completely gratuitous (but scenic enough to be worth it) circumnavigation of Walchensee, a crystal lake with amazingly clear blue-green water which crisply reflected the rocky slopes of the surrounding mountains; then it wended its way through some beautiful small towns, past steep cattle-terraced pastures, and sun-lit mountains, to the controle in Bad Tölz. 

At some point in there, I rode ahead of the group, but then I think I found myself some more bonus k's, and met up with them again.  In any case, I was happy that I arrived in Bad Tölz with Karl, the ride organizer, because the route had us going through Bad Tölz down one-way streets and through the busy fußgänger zone in the city center; had I gotten there alone, I would have thought I did something wrong and this couldn't be the actual route. 

I was feeling still pretty low on fuel at the controle in Bad Tölz; my stomach wasn't too happy with me, and I had about the worst (not to mention unusual) saddle sores I'd ever had in my life.  I am pretty sure now that this was not normal saddle sores, but rather a flare-up of a rash I'd gotten from reacting to the detergent my friend's mom used to wash my bike clothes before I rode home from Bregenz a week earlier.  But in any case, it felt like my shorts were full of hot coals.  So I sat around, ate slowly, lay down for a little bit but didn't really sleep, and more or less tried to recover some energy for a good two hours, until the control closing time.

Finally it was time to go, and I left the controle in the company of Christian Schulz, who would be my companion off and on for the rest of the ride.  On the way out, I stopped in an apotheke and bought some diaper rash cream, which gradually provided relief and by the end of the ride, it was mostly gone (another reason why I don't think it was normal saddle sores; those don't usually go away while you're still riding).  

The first part of this leg went through a lot more busy roads while getting out of Bad Tölz.  It was raining again, and it seemed that all the vacationers who couldn't go swimming because of the rain were just driving around aimlessly instead.  But finally the traffic died down, and we could enjoy the scenery again.  This area could just barely be considered the northern reaches of the Alps, with craggy peaks not quite high enough to be above the timber line or have snowy tops, but imposing and dramatic nonetheless.  As we approached one, we started to see a line squiggling across the face of the mountain in front of us.  As we got closer, it was clear that we were looking at a road.  Finally, it dawned on me: "Holy !@#$, we're not going way the !@#$ up there, are we?"

Yes, we were going way the !@#$ up there.  It was a difficult climb, a long grind of 10% and more at times, but what a view!  I didn't take photos on the way up, since climbing steep grades on a fixed gear requires both arms to pull up on the bars with every 15 RPM pedal stroke, but Christian took some. The view at the top held rows and rows of craggy peaks melting into the distance like sharks' teeth, with a new one always at the ready. 

Halfway down was our controle question, where we had to take down the name of the brewery in Hummelei.  Christian and I decided it was as good a place as any for a snack, as the terrace overlooked the side of the mountain with a dramatic valley view well worth stopping for.  We enjoyed cake and coffee, and refilled our bottles (and I got scolded yet again for using the womens' restroom; this seems to happen to me frequently in Germany), and got back on the road.

There was another climb, shorter but steeper, and still quite scenic, before we got down to the Inn river and some flatter-to-rolling terrain before the fifth controle at the home of the Beyreuther family.  We ate pasta and weinerwurst, and managed to make it out of there in the dying twilight not too long after the controle's official closing time.

The next leg was only 70 km, but we didn't have that much time if we were to make the next controle on time.  Unfortunately though, here was a case where the English translation of the cuesheet I'd been supplied with became a little deceptive, as I discovered when comparing it to the wording on the German one.  Anyway, we were riding down B 306 looking for the town of Oed, and met up with a couple of other riders, one of whom was a Colombian-turned-American living in Germany named Antonio.  Antonio and I rode ahead of the other two, and at a certain point I realized we weren't on the route number anymore that I thought we were supposed to be on.  The others weren't behind us anymore, having realized the mistake and turned around.  This should have been a relatively fast stage and we should have been making up time, but instead we were getting ourselves some more bonus K's and losing time.

 I took out my cell phone GPS to figure out where we were, and where we were supposed to be.  There was the town of Oed, not too far behind us; apparently, we'd just missed the turn.  So we turned around and rode back through the town of Inzell, looking for Oed.  We didn't see a sign. We took out the paper maps, and I turned on the GPS again and looked more closely; I couldn't find any of the other towns we were supposed to find, and none of the roads in Oed looked like they went anywhere.  We stood around and argued over the GPS and the maps for awhile, but eventually, we figured out that although there is actually a hamlet in Inzell called Oed, it was the wrong Oed (and later in the next leg, we even found an Öd, too).  Finally we figured out where we were going, or so I thought, and started riding.  I was impatient, wanting to get to the controle as quickly as possible, and I didn't notice when Antonio wasn't with me anymore.  I didn't see him again on the ride.  

I found a road with signs to some of the other towns on the route, which I'd noticed before and wished I'd insisted on taking earlier, and although the sign said the road was closed, I went that way anyway.  It had a construction area around a small bridge, but I could ride through with no trouble.  With another 15 or 20 bonus k's and a lot of time wasted riding back and forth and standing around arguing, rode hard trying to make up for lost time.  But I managed to get myself lost again, discovered that either there were two villages called Petting quite close to each other or some very confusing signage, rode around in circles for awhile, made some more use of my cell phone's GPS capability, found a few more bonus K's, and eventually got into Waging am See two hours after closing time.  Christian was there, having turned back earlier for the missing Oed and figured things out more quickly; he'd actually made the closing time, and had taken a sleep stop.  He and a group of other riders kindly waited for me to get my drop bag, change my clothes and shoes and switch the various spare clothing items in my saddlebag for clean, dry ones, chug some coffee and a little snack, refill my handlebar bag with food, and I left the controle with them.  

The next leg was supposed to loop through Austria a bit, but the group decided to detour and skip it.  I'm not totally sure why; maybe they thought their route was faster, although not shorter.  That route took us on more major roads than the normal one would have.  Having failed at navigation so many times already though, and having not had a sleep stop at all, I just followed and didn't argue.  After we rejoined the normal route though, Christian and I decided it was time for a breakfast stop.  I was getting quite sleepy, and we both really wanted something substantial to eat. We found a bakery just at opening time, and were soon joined by Karl and Frank.  Karl wasn't at all happy to hear of the detour.  Frank was thrilled to hear that I'd just ordered three eggs scrambled, and ordered the same.  I ate my eggs, ate some cake, drank some coffee, and then slouched down in my seat and slept for 20-30 minutes.  

When I woke up, Karl and Frank had gone on, and Christian and I were on our own again.  Shortly thereafter we had another little navigational glitch, but were able to ask for directions and get back on track.  Most of this leg was through relentlessly rolling Bavarian farmland.  Very pretty, but a constant succession of short, often steep little hills.  Christian was getting very discouraged by these, especially as we were again behind the 8-ball on the next controle closing.  But even he had to admit that this region was just like that, and there probably wasn't a flatter way to go.

 We had one other navigational difficulty, too; the cuesheet sent us to Mitterrohrbach, but there wen't any signs to Miterrohrbach.  We got out the maps and the cell phone GPS, and found that it was (duh) right in between Unterrohrbach and Oberrohrbach.  No bonus k's, but some more time spent stopping to check the map. The controle was in Landau on the Isar, which means a river, which usually means a river valley, which usually means a fast end to the leg.  In the end of the leg, we were really up against the closing time, again.  So we rode faster, and in the end I arrived in Landau a few minutes ahead.  I figured I'd get there by closing time, and tell them he was on his way imminently.

However, I got to the street where the controle was supposed to be and couldn't find it.  The cuesheet said it was a "Dreifach Turnhalle".  Well, I didn't know what the heck a "Dreifach Turnhalle" was.  I had an address, but it was a commercial area and not many buildings had street numbers on them.  So I rode up and down a few times, but eventually found it.  Christian was there already, and everyone was wondering where the heck I'd been.  But I got some more eggs and ham and toast, which really hit the spot.

We started the leg with Karl's group, but left them for a snack stop at a grocery store.  After that stop, somehow we both felt slower and more tired than before.

 Still though, I think we managed to make it through the leg with only minor navigational errors and only a few bonus K's, although it was not an easy one.  It was through a rural area I'll affectionately call "Bayer-tucky" since it reminded me so much of the parts of rural Pennsylvania they like to call "Pennsyl-tucky".  It was more relentless up and down, until we got to one up that just didn't want to go down.  It was one of those "herpes hills", if you will: the gift that keeps on giving.  You think you couldn't go up any more, because there just isn't any landscape left to ascend, and somehow you come around a corner and discover more anyway. We stopped partway up so Christian could buy a soda.  As he came out of the store he looked up at the continuing ascent and said, "Dear Karl: Go away."

The last part of the climb finally got quite steep, perhaps 14 or 15%.  I think I did make it up without walking, although that was only because there was enough room and little traffic to comfortably traverse the road.  At the top was the town of Zinzenzell, which just has one of the coolest town names ever.  There was no spectacular view rewarding us from the top, although I must say that the area was really very pretty in a quaint, rural backwater kind of way.

After that climb though, the going was a bit easier, and I think we even almost made it into the controle in Willmering on time.  It was a pretty little town, and a nice evening, and the pasta with meat sauce and alcohol-free hefeweizen really hit the spot before we got going again.  

I don't remember completely, but I think we may have made it through the next leg completely without navigational error, although on this leg I did get my first hint that perhaps I shouldn't keep trying to use the English cuesheet, when Christian started to make a turn onto Blumenstraße and I argued; as it turned out, there were some lines of information on the German version of the cuesheet that just hadn't made it onto the English version.  At the next stop, I took out the two and compared them, looking for more discrepancies.  From then on, I kept the German one handy, but still used the English one because it was in a spiral-bound format that made it a little easier to deal with page turns and such.

We got into Vohenstrauß somewhat on the late side, although I think still within closing time, which was around midnight on Wednesday night.  We drank coffee and ate chicken soup, which tasted excellent and really hit the spot, although as it turned out we would later come to regret it.  We still had no time to spare, so we decided to push on without staying to nap and figured we'd nap along the way as we needed to.  

It was the middle of the night, and it rained on and off.  We had some good climbs, some of which were very rainy and cloudy around the top, with very limited visibility.  We were in a mostly secluded, mostly wooded area, which turned out to be quite lucky: a little while into this leg, Christian said he thought he might have to make a quick emergency trip into the woods at some point.  I was feeling not so good myself, come to think of it.  As it turned out, we both made a handful of those stops.  We got one or two very brief naps in covered bus stops, but mostly we were too wet and cold to sleep much.  I kept myself awake up and down the hills mostly by laying on the verbal self-abuse.  You would think that riding a fixed gear would make it harder to get sleepy on descents, since your legs have to keep going around pretty fast.  But it doesn't help me stay awake in the slightest.  I can push harder on climbs to wake myself up, but I still get drowsy on the way down.  I think at some point, Christian told me I should just go on ahead because he was going to have to keep stopping in the woods some more.  I don't remember exactly, except that I got to the next controle by myself, just barely in time.  However, my first priority was to make a mad dash for the toilet.  

I got myself some light breakfast, cake in milk, filled my bottles, and left with a couple of other riders who were on their way out; Christian still figured he'd be stopping in the woods a lot.  I felt better then, but hadn't gone that far out from the controle before I had to part company with the other two for another woods visit.  I'd been feeling very slow and having a hard time keeping up anyway; although I oiled my chain and found myself suddenly a good bit faster again.

I kept riding, but I was still sleepy, so I kept my eyes open for a good spot for a quick nap.  It wasn't raining anymore, but the ground was still wet in most places.  I found a driveway that was mostly dry and not likely to be in use at that hour, and lay down for a few minutes.  But a nap was not to be; I hadn't closed my eyes for very long when I heard a voice and opened my eyes to a very worried-looking man standing over me wondering what I was doing lying on the ground by myself by the side of the road, did I have any companions and where were they, and if he should go for help.  I did my best to explain that everything was okay and I just wanted a little nap, but he was not to be convinced, and eventually I just got up and went on my way.  

But the few minutes of lie-down did help nonetheless, and although I still had to make use of the woods a couple more times, I was feeling considerably better.  Somewhere during that leg and I can't remember where, I met up with Christian again, and we arrived at the controle in Thurnau with only minimal confusion. 

The first priority was still the toilet, but that was thankfully pretty much the end of it.  We had a good meal, and we headed off, confident that we should be able to make the next controle if we managed not to get lost. 

However, that turned out to be a rather big "if".  With the help of the GPS but without too much bonus distance, we made it a good 70 km without much mishap.  I watched my computer roll over to 1200 km and checked my watch; it was 8 PM on Thursday, or 82 hours into the ride.  Unfortunately, although I'd done my 1200 counting all those bonus kilometers, I'd gone not even 1100 of the actual route.

There were one or two short but quite steep climbs which I did walk up, but the roads were nice and I expect it would have been quite scenic by daylight.  But it was dark, and we were both really getting sleepy and having a really hard time staying alert and awake.  When we stopped to check the directions, all I wanted to do was rest my head on my arms on my handlebars.  We had some difficulty finding Fabrikschleichach and Unterschleichach I think, and at some point we stopped to check the directions and the maps.  My cell phone battery had run out, so we had only the photocopied maps to go by.  

I'm not totally clear on how this happened, but at some point, Christian seemed to decide he knew where he was going, and started off down the hill.  I went off after him.  Then at some point I realized I was just going straight, and wasn't sure how long I'd been going straight for, where I was, where Christian was, or if I was still going the right direction.  The sometimes annoying thing about riding in Germany is that you keep going from town to town to town, and you rarely go very far before you get to another town. But in this case, it's very handy, because you don't have to wait very long before you come to a town and can find it on the map and figure out where you are.  

The shock of annoyance that comes from realizing you don't exactly know where you're going has amazing stimulative power, and I did my best to make good use of that brief period of mental clarity.  The rest of the leg is sort of a blur, as I rode alone trying to sing, shout, slap myself in the face, anything to stay awake.  I didn't want to stop and lose more time, and I felt myself drifting off on the bike a couple of times.  But finally, after more groggy blundering in the dark and a few more bonus K's, I found my way to the last controle at about 1:45 AM, an hour and 45 minutes after closing.  

The guy at the gas station said that another group had left about a half hour before I got there, so I figured it must be Karl's group and that Christian must have found his way there earlier and joined up with them.  I loaded myself up with coffee, filled my water bottles with iced tea, drank a liter of milk and put another liter in my back pocket, and left within half an hour, determined that I could make it in time if I rode hard enough to stay alert, paid careful attention to the cue sheet, and didn't get lost.  

Well, again, that was a big "if".  I made it the first 40 km or so in passable time, despite stopping to put my head down for a few minutes, and a couple of small directional difficulties, but then got stuck.  Somehow between Wilhermsdorf and Meiersberg, I found myself going in circles.  I tried to follow the signs, but I swear these towns must intertwine in really strange ways, because I'd think I was going straight out of one town, and not make any turns, and find myself back in the same town again.  I'd think I was following signs to go down the list, and find myself going backward up the list.  I even tried cutting through on some un-paved small agricultural roads, and it didn't help.  I went up, I went down, but I still ended up back where I started.  I tried to wave down passing cars to ask for directions, but no one would stop. 


Eventually, I rode around until dawn, at which point there were people out, and I was able to find someone and ask for directions to Großhabersdorf.  Once I found that, I was okay, although it was abundantly clear at that point that I wasn't going to make it to the finish on time.  I was disappointed, but strangely enough, I found that I didn't care that much.  My computer read 1380, making it the longest ride I'd ever done, and actually, I found that I felt pretty good.  The saddle sores and digestive issues were gone, and besides some minor blisters on my hands from climbing in the rain, I had no aches or pains and didn't even feel particularly impatient for the ride to end.  It had been frustrating riding around in circles, but it was pleasant riding, and those little un-paved, un-planned feldwegs were actually kind of fun.  It was a nice morning, and the riding was scenic, and I found that I really felt pretty good about it.  There were a few more climbs to go, but I took those in stride and rather enjoyed them too.  I was starting to ge t hungry and my liter of milk was empty, but otherwise, no complaints. 

The last navigational difficulty came in Pleinfeld, where there was a bike path along a highway.  The cue sheet said something about a foot bridge, and a creek, but I could see more than one foot bridge, and I didn't see the Industriegebiet that the cuesheet mentioned.  As I was riding back and forth trying to figure out what was going on, who should show up but Christian.  He'd actually gotten into the last control after I'd left, but had had a somewhat easier time finding his way through that region of circular logic.  He asked if I'd rolled over 1400 km yet; I replied that I was at 1420 and counting.  

We gave up on the bike path and just took the highway, which wasn't nice riding, but was at least easy to find.  We finally arrived in Osterdorf a little before 1:30 PM on Friday, 3.5 hours after the 95-hour cutoff.

All things considered I suppose 98.5 hours isn't such a bad time for the 1447 km I rode, even if it's too long for the 1267 I was supposed to have ridden.  Especially considering that for every "bonus" kilometer, there's also a certain amount of time spent stopping to check maps and GPS and ask for directions and figure out where you went wrong.  Not to mention all the map checks that prevented bonus K's.

Now that I read my report, it sounds like this ride must have been a long, miserable, drudgerous slog, plagued by digestive issues and saddle sores and getting lost in the dark and with a total of less than 2.5 hrs of sleep.  But really, it was a spectacularly gorgeous ride.  I enjoyed good company and scenic countryside, ended up with the longest distance I've ever ridden, and in the end I actually finished feeling physically pretty good, all things considered.  Had there been another 600k to go, I wouldn't have complained, although I'd have wanted an hour or two of sleep first.  All the German riders wanted to know if next year I wanted to bring gears; however, what I've learned from this ride (and it seems that of participants in this event I am not alone in this conclusion) is that next year, I will get a GPS.   

But even with 180 km extra, I really enjoyed this ride, and hope to be able to do it again.  My thanks to Karl Weimann and his whole family for putting on this event!