It was at work in Basel, when Antony, Kristinn, Rubén, and Tom first met and founded the Basel Boys sport team. Not only did it mark the beginning of a long friendship, but it also paved the way for an exciting adventure leading them to Iceland - the WOW Cyclothon to be more specific. The race, being an annually held non-stop relay bike race around Iceland, took place from June 24th to the 27th this year. Unfortunately, Tom could not participate in the race; however, Elmar, a local cyclist and handy-man, joined the team as his replacement.
Of course, Odlo was right on the spot to accompany the Basel Boys on their mission to race around the Nordic island on their bikes. Read on and learn more about their fascinating experience.
Are you guys satisfied with your final result?
Kristinn: Indeed. We are very happy with the results! We did it in 43 hours, which is two hours less than our goal of 45 hours. On top of that, we rode at an average speed of about 31 km/h instead of 30 km/h we had planned. We managed the whole race quite smoothly, and we didn’t have any major problems or issues concerning our physical fitness or the equipment. It all fell into place and worked out perfectly.
Antony: I‘m delighted with the race results. We were much better than we planned. However, later on, we did find ourselves thinking about what we could have done better!
What was your first impression right after the race?
Rubén: my first thought? WE DID IT!
Antony: Relief, emotional fatigue, but most of all: elation! It was such a satisfactory feeling of finishing the race in less than 43 hours. I do have to admit that I shed a tear or two in the end.
What was the best and the worst aspect of your trip?
Elmar: What I loved the most was getting outside again after a break in the fresh air and enjoying the ride and beautiful landscape.
Rubén: Just like Elmar said, the best aspect of the cyclothon was clearly to experience the breathtaking, Icelandic landscapes on the bike. Unfortunately, I didn‘t have too much time to look around and enjoy nature as much as I would have appreciated it. Also, tackling this adventure with a group of colleagues, and most of all friends, was a great experience and amazing part of the trip as well.
Antony: The best aspect of the race was knowing how much our hard training actually paid off! We didn‘t really suffer from any kind of physical aches or pains, which really helped us get through the trip. To me, the worst thing was the lack of sleep. Only getting a small amount of rest was the most challenging aspect of our adventure. It‘s one thing not to get the chance to sleep, but another to wake up after only a few moments of rest knowing that you‘ll have to ride the next few sessions on the road while still fighting the drowsiness.
Kristinn: When it comes to the worst part of the trip, I‘d definitely agree with Anthony! We slept very little during the 43 hours of the race. Plus, we had been awake for 10 hours before the race even started. Therefore, fighting the permanent drowsiness for two nights was quite exhausting and debilitating.
Looking back, how well were you guys prepared for the trip? Did you have to adjust your plans during the race?
Rubén: First of all, it was very frustrating that my bike was lost on the way from Madrid to Basel, and the airline didn’t manage to find it in time for the race. This was a real bummer after all these months of hard training and the excitement of the last days of preparation. Luckily, it all worked out just fine thanks to the support of the team and Kristinn’s cousin, who was so kind to lend me his bike for the race. As for the race, I was honestly surprised by the pace most teams took on from the very start. It felt a bit crazy to start a 40-hour event at full steam, but in the end, it worked out well for everybody.
Kristinn: We had planned to take about 30 to 45 minute sessions on the bike. However, we ended up doing an average of around 15 minutes a session, which turned out to be about the optimum to maintain the speed and keep the balance between relaxation and workout for the legs. Unfortunately, We didn’t plan the sleeping part very well. We assumed that, taking turns, we could simply sleep whenever someone was sleepy - that didn‘t work out too well though. It was only until the second night that we managed to organize the sleeping sessions accordingly, so all of us could get a little more than an hour of sleep.
Antony: We had also thought about who was the best rider for various sections of the race. Kristinn, for instance, was the best climber, so we had planned to have him ride the climbs. In the end, however, we pretty much did it all together taking turns. Also, analyzing our strengths and weaknesses during our training phase, we figured, being the lightest rider, I was good doing the fast flats. Eventually though, we all did it.
So would you have actually prepared for the trip in a different way?
Antony: Yes. I know I am quickly get exhausted on climbs and I really need to improve that, but the endurance training and my speed was perfect. I did not have any real aches or pains.
Rubén: Like Antony, I think I should have focused a bit more on leg strength, but ultimately, considering that I barely did any cycling for more than 10 years, I’m very happy with the level of fitness I reached.
Elmar: Since I joined the group as a late replacement, my training period was very short. Thus, more training would have definitely been helpful.
Do you think the race brought the group more together as a team?
Antony: Yes. During the race, you do think about the others: we encouraged each other to eat and drink, and we tried to be aware of our clothing in order to keep warm and dry.
Rubén: I think being this close to each other for almost two full days in a stressful situation either brings people more together or you end up hating each other. Thankfully, we ended the race being even closer than when we started, and I am proud of the team and our achievements.
Would you recommend this specific experience to other athletes?
Kristinn: Definitely! It was a great experience. It pushes your limits, and it is extremely rewarding. Not only do you feel proud of what you have accomplished after the race, you also get to enjoy the impressive landscape of Iceland while tackling the adventure. Furthermore, Sharing this experience with good friends makes this race even more enjoyable.
Anthony: I agree with Kristinn! It is a very different event compared to many other races you can do. There‘s much more to think about than doing a "normal" race. Also, it is much more intense than a stage race. And of course: the landscape is just astonishing!
Rubén: A race like the Cyclothon can be a challenge for both professional athletes as well as semi-professional athletes like most of us. For me, it was all about the physical preparation. The race was simply the icing on the cake - and it was!
What does the future has in store for you? Have you already planned the next challenge?
Antony: Kristinn and I work together in the same building, and we have thought about what we can do after this race is over. Since we are in good shape due to our training for the Cyclothon, we might plan something for the future. Whatever it will be, it will most likely not be as extreme as the Cyclothon - at least not for now and the near future.
Rubén: Just a few days after flying back, Kristinn had a chat and started thinking about possible challenges for next year. I’m not interested in competing in traditional races. In my opinion, doing something unusual and accomplishing it in a team are the most important factors for a challenge now and in the future.