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My alarm woke me up from a heavy sleep in the hotel in Koblenz. I had managed to get to sleep pretty quickly so had got the 4 hours or so I wanted. It was about 0230 and dark outside. Having cleaned prepped equipment before going to bed I just had to get myself vertical and get my cycling kit on. After squeezing the bike into the lift with me I dropped the key at reception and slipped out into the night, painfully aware that there was no chance of getting hold of the free breakfast that came with the room. I turned my attention to my Wahoo Elemnt and quietly disappeared.

The Rhine cycle path stoked fond memories whilst I was planning my route, it is a route I had ridden before at a slightly more leisurely pace and enjoyed very much. This was one of the reasons I had planned my route the way I did. Not long after leaving Koblenz I began to regret stopping at the hotel, I could have been riding this in the dusk light of the day before and I passed many ideal sleeping spots by the river that would cost me nothing and hurt less to rise from. Riding the cycle path in the darkness, I had the feeling of imperceptible ascents, a feeling far worse than being confronted by a stark gradient. Compounding my regret was the moderate headwind I faced all the way to Boblingen where I parted with the Rhine to continue my trace South whilst it swept off Eastward. At some point whilst the sun was beginning to rise I slept for half an hour by the side of the path, roused and spurred on afterwards by a passing fellow racer.

I don’t remember much else about Day 2 until I reached Reutlingen. What I do remember is roads with fast cars and close passes, two of which I felt needed to reroute around. The first one was through vineyards and villages and relatively pleasant whilst the second one was a signposted cycle path that turned out to be little more than a trail through a forest which spent 5km going 1km. This path was also being used by folks on city bikes and was supposed to be the road alternative, I felt with it being an off road surface that that was a bit of a stretch.

Interestingly I only remember two climbs on Day 2 though the altitude plot on Strava tells a story of many little ups and downs, the obvious being the parcours climb up to Schloss Lichenstein and the second being a climb just before Pforzheim with a little plateau at the top populated with wind turbines. I remember Instagraming twice from this point and stopped to take in the view, it was gloriously sunny and hot and the cloud in my mind from riding in the dark, early hours had well and truly lifted. I was also looking forward to seeing a friend of mine who was visiting their parents in Karlsruhe which I would pass pretty close to. There was the possibility of them coming out to say hello, unfortunately that didn’t happen and when I found out it put a dent in my morale for a little while.


Just before I entered Reutlingen proper I stopped at a petrol station for supplies, what form they took I cannot remember but I imagine they involved water, coke, crisps and possibly chocolate. I do remember chatting to the gentleman working there though for a quite a while about the race and again to a customer on the forecourt. It was my first conversation of the day I think. Resupplied, I set off and quickly realised I had left my Lezyne Caddy at the petrol station with my passport and brevet card in, I had managed to get 500 metres away. I quickly turned around with my heart pounding and was lucky to find it exactly where I had left it on the counter, it was a bit scary and definitely made me be more careful with it in future.

On my second exit from the petrol station I came across the red haired Russian rider with a red bike from Day 1. We rode together for a short while chatting until thunder, lightning and a lot of rain that came out of nowhere split us up. I dived with my bike under a chest high bush that was hanging over a wall at the side of the road to escape whilst they found their own shelter, I wouldn’t see them again until Meteora. I remained uncomfortably crouched under the bush whilst a river formed in the road. When the storm abated a little I got my waterproofs on and pushed through the last 10km to CP1.

Because it had taken about 4 hours longer than I had anticipated to get to CP1 I didn’t head straight up the parcours as I had planned to do, instead I went to get my time stamp. Having not ridden a race like this before I did not really know what to expect from the checkpoint, in reality it was low key, friendly and had a fair few riders milling around. I plugged my phone and Wahoo into charge as both were running very low on battery. I was worried about my phone in particular as I was due to head up the parcours in atrocious weather and worst case scenario I wanted to be able to call for help. Whilst waiting for stuff to charge I chatted to the Lezyne media crew and then I was away.

I was in full waterproofs when I began the climb up to Schloss Litchenstein but of course it stopped raining as I rounded the first bend. I ended up riding with my jacket and jersey unzipped in an attempt to keep cool which wasn’t particularly effective. It was at this point the Lezyne media crew arrived and they must have captured some rather unappealing pictures on that ascent. These are yet to be seen and hopefully never to be. The parcours itself was not a great challenge but reaching the castle gates at the top was satisfying. It was a really good feeling to have reached CP1 and completed the first parcours, I felt like I had validated having my place in the race. I’m always afraid of failing and always think I am failing, it is rare for me to feel like I am actually achieving something so the evening on Day 2 was a good evening.

I bedded down for the night in the same spot as another rider, great minds and all that. It was amongst the benches and tables of the restaurant just below the castle gate. We sorted our days kit and got our sleeping gear ready whilst struggling to keep the motion sensitive lights on, we managed it all in the end. It was gone midnight at this point so I set my alarm for four hours hence, put in my ear plugs in and pulled my buff over my eyes.

Carry on the adventure with me on TCR Ride Report: Day 3.