Highlight of my 2021 season was the 1116 km long Race Across Germany. I chose this race because the track is very similar to the longest stages of Red Bull Trans Siberian Extreme, my big goal for the year 2022. I wanted to test the new bike ISAAC Meson Disc, which will be the main weapon in the 9100 km long ultracycling battle in Russia. That´s why I chose for self-supported category in Germany. I had no chance to change my three ISAAC bikes according to the terrain (as I do when I´m racing with the support car). I had to spend all the time on the new Meson. And the result? This machine works perfectly in a flat and hilly terrain as well!
The route of Race Across Germany (RAG) takes solo and team racers from Flensburg in the North (boarder with Denmark) to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the South (boarder with Austria). The first half of the race is mainly flat so I flew with my Meson like a rocket. Maybe sometimes I was too fast: On the 110. km I did one big navigation mistake, which cost me a lot of time and many positions. It resulted into extra 11 km... But I found the motivation to cope with this problem and tried to push hard to get back in front of the field. After 24 hours I was close to the 700 km mark. I did just few short stops for toilet and the refilling of water (mainly in the villages by the locals). Second half of the track means constant and never ending sequence of climbs.
Races around 1100 km are quite tricky. If you want to be successful, you have to go fast from the start to the finish, which means without sleep. The last 130 km were really tough for me. It was rainy cold night. I fought with the sleepiness and strong pain in my soles. They were damaged from the constant pressure and wetness. 14 km before the finish I had to take my cycling shoes off and walk for a while on the small stones. That helped me to regenerate a bit and I found the bonus power for the last km! This race has really crazy finish. Racers have to conquer the 30% ascent to the Garmisch-Partenkirchen ski jump (after crossing whole Germany). What a tough ending of the German ultracycling story!
I reached the finish line after 43 hours and 16 minutes from the start in Flensburg. I covered 1140 km (24 km more due to some detours and navigation mistakes). Total elevation reached 8500 m. My strategy was to take quite big reserves of food at the start and use 3 bottles (2,3 L together) during the race. Bike was heavy, but I saved a lot of time because I didn´t have to do longer shopping brakes. I did only two longer brakes due to buying food – first at the petrol station, second in the local shop. I felt comfortable on my Meson, legs were strong, head as well. The only bigger crisis came during the first morning after ca. 20 hours of ride and on the last 130 km. I´m super happy with my performance – I won the category solo self-supported and finished as the 3rd solo rider (after two riders with the support car).
But my story didn´t end just with finishing the RAG. My project continued! Together with my friends we climbed the German highest peak Zugspitze (2962 m). It is a long alpine ascent which crosses a glacier and includes some via ferrata passages. We had to wait one day in Ga Pa because of rainy and stormy weather. After more than 15 km and 2100 m of elevation (in less than 6 hours) we stood on the highest point of Germany. I´m proud to creating a unique bike&hike project which combines an ultramarathon and ascent of the alpine peak. This project connects sea with the glacier and also crossing the whole Germany and its highest peak. Yeah… Another crazy story!
Results Race Across Germany 2021:
1. Dominik Meierhofer (AT), 37 h : 16 min
2. Marko Baloh (SLO), 40 h : 30 min
3. Björn Fischer (GER), 43 h : 30 min
1. Daniel Polman (CZE), 43 h : 16 min
2. Ulrich Seyfarth (GER), 46 h : 23 min
3. Peter Löw (GER), 47 h : 59 min