5 Αυγ 2012

GBI 2012 - Summary report (english)

That was one more year that I was lucky enough to be present in this celebration. The "life-time experience" - as I like to call it - filled 10 days of my life, from June 9th to June 18th, for a 4th consecutive year and I can only just wish to be present next year as well! Same wish with almost all participants, every year!

Thousands of images! In my album there is just a small sample of them.  An even better sample can be found in my friends' albumsFor sure, as the days go by, even more "samples" will accumulate. 

So, that was 8 days of cycling... Almost 1000 km... In summary:

10/6/12: Oslo - Fredrikstadt, 116 km.
11/6/12: Fredrikstadt - Udevalla, 156 km.
12/6/12: Udevalla - Goteborg, 100 km.
Ferry passing from Goteborg yo Kiel the night of 12 - 13/6 (14 hours). 
13/6/12: Kiel - Hamburg, 112 km.
14/6/12: Hamburg - Verden, 107 km.
15/6/12: Verden - Osnabruck, 140 km.
16/6/12:Osnabruck - Dorsten, 127 km.
17/6/12: Dorsten - Dusseldorf, 90 km. including the "ride" through the city!)

A rather "heavy" GBI with accumulated fatigue, day after day. In a relevant discussion between the Country Champions (where I was present representing Greece) it was agreed that the"ideal" duration of a GBI is 6 days. That shall be the duration of GBI 2013, starting from Paris and finishing (as usual) in Dusseldorf! 
However, this year I was better prepared! It seems that every year, accumulation of cycling experience helps the body to overcome even more difficult challenges. The basic elements of this preparation were:

  • Lots of kilometers (7,000 km since previous GBI, many of them in racing or in more difficult conditions than previous years) 
  • High cadence! It really makes a difference! I kept my cadence above 85 for several hours! My legs remained fresh, since lactic acid went away before accumulating in my muscles. 
  • Compression socks. I have to thank my friend Jakis for lending me his 2XU socks. I used them every afternoon, I slept wearing them and my calves were fresh and recovered in the morning! I guess that the 2XU products that cover the whole leg, would do equally good job but their cost seemed high for just 8 days' usage, so I opted staying with the borrowed socks! 
  • Nutritional recovery: It is important not to restrict nutrition to carbohydrates (pasta). Protein (beef fillet!) is equally important! 
Using those simple rules / hints I managed easily and comfortably the 1000 km of GBI 2012.

A normal Norwegian ... petrol station!

In Norway, what impressed me was the absence of inhabited areas. A really spasely populated country, with huge forests, lakes, rivers, runlets, some hills (there was some climbing in the first and second day) but very few villages! The practical result was that food stops were done in petrol stations! These petrol stations were impressive in the sense that they provided fresh sandwiches, good coffee, hot-dogs and anything that a hungry cyclist could wish!

In Sweden situation is similar. With the additional characterisitc view of timber stacked at the side of the road (the well known "Swedish wood" I guess!). Roads are in many cases, cracked due to them being often covered by ice and snow. This is mostly seen in cycling paths and led us to use more the normal road, to avoid ...cyclo cross!

As a result of the above, when we entered Germany. we felt that we were back in civilisation! Little, picturesque villages everywere, houses in the middle of grass land, etc. Despite the fact that - this period - anything German triggers (to some Greeks) some aversion, one should admit that order, cleanliness, respect to every citizen and every visitor, remain obvious in any area of Germany. This is not to say that the Scandinavian countries do not display similar characteristics. On the contrary! And some times the Scandinavian manner is more relaxed, more aproachable. But the deserted Scandinavian outdoors did get us a bit scared!

The fast greek grupetto!
Weather was typical North European. "What is the difference between German winter and German summer? - In the summer, the rain is warmer!". This is how Germans themselves descrie their weather and they were verified! If I remember correctly, we had 2 - 3 days (out of 8) that we were NOT wet! Thankfully, we had lots of rain for 2 days only. The rest of the days, a light shower made sure that we were reminded how good (and necessary) is our rain coat (my Orbea, for one more year, was always with me!). Kilometers were covered quickly when we used the main road (and the cycle path), forming a small, "racing style" group, reaching 34 - 35 km/h of average speed. When we felt more "touristic", we used the cycle paths, we slowed down, we were taking pictures and videos on the move, and in general we were absorbing and enjoying every moment of the experience.

At the finish of each day - were we often arrived first - we had a specific ritual. Bike wash, clean and lubricate the chain (to ensure it will still rotate the next day, since there was lots of mud on it!), beer, sausages, cycling chatting. Then, we would use the van provided by GBI to go to the hotel, wash and dry our clothes, have a shower, eat and drink with the team and then lie to sleep! As I said many times in the past, for 8 days, one lives, sleeps, wakes and thinks ONLY one thing: cycling! There is no better way to clear the mind! 

Till next year! 

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