It was my second bikepacking ultra distance event in "no support" formula. My first official race was back in 2019,
Carpatia Divide, MTB ultra distance race through Polish Carpatian Mountains where I met my future bike trip Buddy Krystian But that's a different story.
Before, I used to make just a whole day bike trips, exploring hiking trails around Stockholm, where I live. After CARPATIA Krystian and I registered for the 20K Ultratrail MTB race which unfortunately was moved to 2021 due to a pandemic situation. Because of this incident we started to look for a trail which we could ride ourselves without taking part in a race formula. Which should eliminate further plan changes. After going through a lot of different possibilities in Europe we found a #Hope1000 trail. Switzerland, Alps, 1000km and 30 000m of altitude. The fact that 2020 was definitely a very specific year if it comes to travelling forced us to connect our bike trip plans with regular family holidays. The agreement with our wifes has been done. We had 5days deadline to ride as much of the trail as we could. On the one hand I knew that we won't be able to finish it but… You know how it is, at some point I still believed that maybe, somehow it could be possible.
After CARPATIA DIVIDE my attitude towards such a long distance mountain trip was very different. Before the Carpathian race I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to finish this kind of event. 630km and 17000m of elevations, most of it on hiking trails at Polish Carpathian Mountains sounded like something out of my league. The race and a whole adventure experience was out of this world. Not only we finished it but we also ended up together in 20th place with a time of 106h. It was a huge boost of self confidence on a bike.
This and almost a year of waiting time in between those two events, backed up with an infinite amount of youtube movies and articles about world bests in ultra distance racing made me believe that we could finish it in 5days. In 2018 @lealwilcox broke 5days record and she did it in 4days and 10h, in 2020 @sofianesehili finished it in 3days 20h, two of my personal bike endurance heroes. So, I thought that we had some time cushion to work with, plus I knew that our 5 days deadline could be stretched just a little bit.
We started at Romanshorn on 25th of July. The weather was murderously beautiful, full sun, clear sky, 30°C+, thunderstorms. Five to six hours uphill rides were pretty exhausting with such high temperatures and we couldn’t sustain the pace which we planned before the race. The terrain characteristics were a bit different then in Polish mountains, very long uphills followed by extremely fast downhills while in Poland it was much more balanced. Although the views, Alp’s enormity, Swiss’s friendliness,showering in mountain’s strings and sleeping under the clear sky made this one of the best bikepacking adventures of my life. After 5.5 days, more than 700km and 20000m of elevation we ended up finishing our trip at Habkern.. Then we spent extra 4days hiking and climbing with our wifes in Swiss Alps.
But when we came back home something was wrong, I was crushed by the fact that we couldn’t finish the trail. Psychologically I hit a wall. I’ve lost motivation for everything in my life and got depressed. My huge focus on a goal to finish it, overestimating my own abilities and few independent things which happened during our ride made me feel ashamed of my “failure”. Looking at my performance through the other people’s eyes around me I felt like I would disappoint somebody. That was a very weird and difficult experience for me, I needed to reevaluate my whole relation to sport and outdoor activities. Why and for whom am I doing it. It took me a few weeks to overcome this state of mind and to understand what happened. Even though it was the most bitter experience of this year, after going through the whole process of investigating my own, deep emotional relationship with endurance sports, from the time perspective, I look at the whole #hope1000 experience as the most meaningful in my life.
I did far longer distances in my head than ever before.