Sunday, October 14, 2018

Time trial Hamburg - Berlin*

Zeitfahren Hamburg - Berlin 2018 - or rather: *Curslack - Spandau
Organizers Website: HHB 2018
On the Velomobile forum: HHB 2018

Same procedure as every year? The alarm clock ringing too early after a short night with too little sleep. The S21 to Bergedorf with more and more participants joining. The short warm-up ride to the start at Curslacker Landhaus. The sign-in.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
HH-B 2018. Same procedure as every year? S21to
Bergedorf. More and more participants were joining
along the way.


Apparel, accessories and equipment quickly set the stage. Reflective vests from PBP2015, ARA and ACP PBP  jerseys, HBK shirts and triathlon backpacks leave no doubt that the participants are regulars to long distance events, be it as randonneurs or from the racy end. And while I consider myself owner of a fine bicycle in normal life, many of the aero- and triathlon- bikes, recumbents and velomobiles are definitely far more than just a notch above. 

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Sign-in. Race number and luggage tag.

Catching an early train turned out to be a good move. Last year I had spent some time in queues for sign-in, staples for the race numbers, and baggage drop. By allowing for enough time, I actually entirely avoided the lines forming just very shortly after.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
A copious buffet breakfast with a large selection of sweet, salty and fruity stuff.
The apparel quickly set the stage, the participants are regulars to long distance
events.

The giant breakfast buffet offered plenty of everything one could reasonable desire. I enjoyed a last moment of calm with scrambled eggs, Nutella and jam rolls, banana and coffee before what would turn into a long day.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Troytec carbon-racer. Only few of the fast ones were present this early. 

The format of the event is brilliant. A sort of gentleman's human powered cannon ball run from Hamburg to Berlin, caringly sandwiched between a copious buffet breakfast and barbecue party by the shore of the Havel.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
More recumbents. I consider myself owner of a fine bicycle, but the equipment
on display here at HH-B is definitely far more than just 'a notch above'.

The - within some simple rules - free choice of itinerary makes for an interesting plot with many different strategies depending on vehicle, teams vs solo, and individual preferences.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
The first velomobiles lining up. As I was starting much earlier this year, I didn't
see much of the fast bunch who prefer later starting times.

Outside, the buzz of last minute preparations. Some people were still downloading a route to their GPS, luggage drop, teams gathering around the start, and the riders waiting for their call and to be finally released on the road in intervals ranging from 30 seconds to a few minutes.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Last minute route download? A good route and faultless navigation help to
save energy. Preparation is key in particular for those going for a time.

It still takes more than two hours of carefully choreographed logistics to get about 300 starters on the course.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Starting gate. Participants and teams were called in intervals from 30 seconds to
a few minutes. It still takes more than two hours to send about 300 participants
on the course.
Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Rider being released from the starting gate with about 280 km to go.

Its my call, 7h03 I leave the gate, ride up the access ramp - right turn, right turn, and I am on the Altengammer Hausdeich, Altengammer Hauptdeich, the bridge over the Elbe, Elbuferstrasse.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Riding into the magic of the early morning light.

Riding into the magic of the morning light I try to find my rythm. Contrary to last year I am passing a few riders, probably I am going too fast, already now I can feel a slight headwind, they must be wiser than I am.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Elbuferstrasse, some large groups have formed. A good move considering
that first signs of a light head-wind could already be felt.

I alternate shortcuts and Elbuferstrasse, always an eye on those choosing the other option, never sure whether it pays or not. Soon the first larger groups have bunched up and pass. Surely a wise decision to share the load of riding into the wind.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Rising sun triangulated by the bridge to Lauenburg.

The sun came up behind the steel structure of the bridge to Lauenburg that I hadn't planned to see from this perspective. Then I was surprised to get 'lost' in some cyclocross adventure around Jürgenstorf. Only to find out now in writing that I had not uploaded the final version of the first leg to my GPS! Preparation is key.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Magic morning light.

I enjoyed the hills between Bleckede, and Hitzacker 'chased' by one of the 'official' Audax Club SH photgraphers waiting on successive crests.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
The night was very mild for the time of the year, and already before Dömitz,
quite some were riding short/short.

Around Nienwedel, I met Jakob who had started some 24 minutes earlier than me, and we quickly agreed that the headwind would be the theme of the day. We rode into the control together and shared the welcome break.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Around Nienwedel I met Jakob who had started a bit earlier. We quickly agreed
that the wind was going to be a central theme.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Solo rider enjoying the morning.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
The bridge near Dömitz - one of the mandatory passages.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Homing-in  to the control.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Control. While some fast ones barely stopped, and others refueled without even
dismounting their steed, many enjoy a moment of relief. So did I. 

Where some riders barely stop to get registered, and others refuel without even dismounting their steed, I relaxed my legs refilled my bottles, took advantage of a sandwich, banana and a cup of coffee and had a look around at the bikes.


Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Dömitz: control and feed station.The organizers provided everything a
cyclist could possibly desire. Coffee, sandwiches, fruits, and water re-supply.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Quite some stretches of HH-B can be ridden on small backroads basically
without of traffic.

Leaving the control, Jakob kept my wheel and myself company, and we agreed on another coffee stop at one of the gas stations in Wittenberge to celebrate the halfway mark. Crossing the Bridge over the Stepenitz offers a beautiful view on the Clock tower. But the hands on the dial remind me that I am already five and a half hours into the event while barely halfway though. There was no denying that the headwind was in control.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Clock tower in Wittenberge. The hands on the dial remind me that I am already
5h30 into the event while Wittenberge barely marks the halfway point. There is
no denying: the headwind is in control.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Some company along the way.

We soon catched up with a rider who had left the gas station a bit earlier and found himself lost with a problem with his track. It must not have been very reassuring to follow my original sections of the typical east german two-track farm and tank roads.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Havelberg, crossing the Havel, leaving the Elbe for good.

While Havelberg is certainly a nice place for another coffee, I declined and rode on on my own again, in a vain but desperate attempt to keep a reasonable time. 

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Riding a slow but constant pace, I was passed by many people - often more
than once.

The headwind starts to take its toll. Contrary to a brevet returning to the point of departure, or to climbing a mountain pass, there is no return in investment when riding into a headwind on a one way course.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
NP Rhinow, many riders stop here to resupply.

If Rhinow is known for Lilienthals pioneering flights and tragic accident to normal people, its also known as an ideally placed oasis to the participants thanks to its NP-Discount. I refilled my bottles and restocked some sweets.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Lilienthal to the left, Berlin to the right. Leaving Rhinow behind.

The alleys of the Havelland are absolutely beautiful and I managed to take nearly the same picture as last year. Same tree, similar light, just about half an hour later -  except that I had started 40 minutes earlier this year. If there was any doubt left, it was now clear thats it was going to be a long day.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Nearly the same view as last year, same tree, similar light, just a bit later,
15h09 vs 14h42 last time. Except that I had started 40 minutes earlier this
year!  If there was any doubt, it was now clear that it was going to be a long day!

This year again there was a team I played cat (them) and mouse (myself) with. When they passed me yet another time, one of the riders commented tongue-in-cheek: "you must have at least three brothers'. It comically shows how different route and ride strategies can even out obvious differences in performance for quite some time.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
This team passed me at least three times. Again, different route choices and
stop strategies made for a diverting cat and mouse game before they finally
left me behind for good. 

I usually like the majestic sight of wind turbines, but as a cyclist not the day when the wrong end points towards you for 280 km straight.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Wind turbines are usually a sight to behold, except when the wrong end points
towards you 280 km straight. When laboring into a headwind on a one-way
course, there is no return on investment.

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Tree tunnel on the 'bicycle road' (Fahrradstrasse) crossing the Havelland.

Falkensee, finally I am nearly there. An original attempt to circumnavigate Spandaus countless traffic lights via the South West turns out to follow a road with heavy traffic and a badly fragmented cycling path. At last right turn: Gatower Strasse, left turn: Wassersportheim. 

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
The traditional barbecue, a welcome opportunity to talk shop and look back
at a day and a season that will be over all too soon.

I check out in the rapidly fading light of the day after 11h34, and relish beer and sausages while talking shop and looking back at a day and a season that be over all to soon. Same procedure as every year!

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
HPV (Milan) in Gatow. To my regret, with my early start and a cyclists route
choice, I didn't meet many velomobiles in the wild compared to last year. And
the few I did flew by before I even could grab the camera. I am wondering
whether last year I only had been able to hear them coming thanks to the tailwind?

Zeitfahren Hamburg Berlin 2018 - HH-B 2018
Same procedure as every year! Some ride back
home, I chose the train.

Many thanks to the Audax Club SH for another great day!

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