L’Alsacienne – wild Marathon Experience

A short Story about L’Alsacienne – a relatively young cycling marathon in the French Vosques

Many of you may know the Grand Ballon and the petit Ballon here.
The classic granfondo “Trois Ballons” was too early in the year for a good weather rider like me.
So I thought, I might sign up for L’Alsacienne. It is now in it’s third year, and the long route with 167km seemed quite reasonable to me. Somehow I must have overlooked the 4500m of altitude. In the end it should be even over 4650 due to a vigorous ascent at the very end.

Alsacienne Map

we took off directly into the climb to Vieil Armand heading towads Grand Ballon. Not at all a bad idea with temperatures around 10°C. So at that point we are still pretty happy with 1998 other people to get warmed up. More or less easily we did the first two “summits”. At the top of the Vieil Armand, it’s off to the left in a rather moderate descent and then up again a few meters to Markstein. The descent from Markstein is like many in the area very nice to drive, but in comparison still unspectacular. Except for a few cobblestone passages that pop up surprisingly (they start just before a turn)

As soon as we arrive the valley, it’s back up to the right to Markstein via Bramont and Route des Cretes. So far, the angulations are in the range of 8%, and the world is still good. But tso far we only did 65 of 167kilometers. Between Routes des cretes and Markstein, a small group of people from Freiburg and Karlsruhe catch up and join us. From now on we have very entertaining conversations and a slightly faster average speed. Before we were already quite lonely among the almost 500 riders on the big lap. And up here, the views over the Vosges are sensational.

The descent to Schweighouse is quite an experience: right-left combinations alternate with tight bends and long high-speed corners. I rarely had so much fun in a downhill. And that’s called a low mountain range?
The fairly short climb up Bannstein can run smoothly, and also the Firstplan is pleasant to ride. Unfortunately we let ourselves be driven by the nice company and the flowing mountains to overpower a bit. The descent from Firstplan is a reward for the speedy uphill and an absolute pleasure. Hammer!

Before the ascent to the Petit balloon, we let go the group and have a break at a parking lot. Drinking in peace, eating energy-bars, and I put my feet in the water. Here we meet Jan, who joins us at the break and for the remaining very very hard kilometers. What comes next is incredible.

The Petit Ballon on it’s west side clime is stated 8.4% on average and just under 12% maximum. But even the first hills out of Wasserbourg feel much steeper. We also just now recognise that the asphalt here rolls incredibly slow all the time. For sure, the Petit Ballon will bring the decision to us. We stop and get out of th saddle several times to be able to at least drink something. Over these 120km it was hard to hydrate and eat properly, as it’s always either uphill or fast downhill. Cycling in the plains doesn’t take place at the Alsacienne.

We can no enjoy the descent. The asphalt is wavy, rough and pitted, and we are weak and exhausted. After the hard climb, the Petit Ballon also beats us on the descent.

Right at the end of the descent, a catering is waiting for us – and a sharp turn to the left into the next ascent to Platzerwasel and then back to Markstein. We were already there twice that day. But now we need to refuel with some Coke and some more energy-food. Unfortunately, there is hardly anything left because we were properly passed. The sweeper bus collects the riders of the 125km tour and volunteers from the 167s. We make our way to the Platzerwasel. Now it’s just about not giving up. This ascent also has some ramps over 10%, but is less disgusting to drive than the previous one. The weather is changeable and cool all day long, now a few drops are falling. Fortunately, it will not rain. The Breitfirst (we were there already before, too) and Markstein are only small horns. Then another catering comes in sight at the bottom before the rise to the Grand Ballon. We ignore the honking of the sweeper bus and bite us in the last? next-to-last? next-to-next-to-last? ascent. It’s tough, we’re slow, but it’s only 200hm over the Grand Ballon.

Then finally again a real decent. The view from above is spectacular. We all know these from the helicopter pictures of the Tour de France. Thanks to the nice trio that we are, we can even enjoy such moments. Now we’re going back the way we came. So up again over the cobblestones to the Vieil Armand. Short but tough 100hm, then back downhill. It’s fun now.

As a reward, the organizers have come up with a final climb over a paved forest road. On 1.4km, it’s up again with an average of 11.2%. But now it doesn’t matter anymore. 1400m – 1200m – 99.999cm – 800m – 600m – 400m – 200m and finish.
I was barely aver as much exhausted after cycling like after this crazy bike marathon.

It sounds like a total torture, but it was also a lot of fun. The area is beautiful, the roads are awesome. And they are virtually empty. With only 2000 participants, it is a very familiar event, organized in a very symathic way. At each corner we were cheered by volunteers, even though it’s somewhere in the nowhere.

At the finish, someone said: “They want to break us down here. They don’t want to show us the scenery, because then we could just easily pass every hill and mountain once.” If that’s the case: It worked.

Right next to the race office there is a campsite with warm showers and almost tame storks. The cost was 30€ – for 2 guys and two nights. Somehow I still cannot believe it.
(For comparison: The Ötzi has (slightly less than) 5500hm on 238km, L’Ansacienne is 70km less)

Supplement: Driving time was 9:23.
Much longer than my Ötzi times, but I’m also fat and less fit.

Pictures:

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L’Alsacienne – wild Marathon Experience

Why “Major Cycles”

When I started to build my first bike frame, I wanted o have a “brand name” written on the down tube. At that time, that was something of what I thought of as “professional”.

The model name was found quickly: I planned to have the frame painted in Alfa Romeo’s “Rosso Competizione”, so Competizione seemed to be a good name for a road bike frame. But the virtual brand name did not come easy.

My family name is “Gebhardt”. While German names on bike parts may be kind of fancy, noboda outside Germany knows how to pronounce it. “Tom”? Well, I think very short names look kind of lost on downtubes. So I looked for something more neutral – but these relults lacked personality and a deeper connection to me as a person.

And then I thought of nicknames. One of them has been “Major Tom” or just “Major” for many years. I believe, it came up in the harrdbooter’s community somewhen in 2004/2005 based on Peter Schillings song from ’82: “Major Tom” (völlig losgelöst)

Major Tom Youtube (I will try later to make that video directly visible here)

At that time the idea of “Major Cycles” came up, which in some fields like finance or statistics hhas quite a meaning (not related to bicycles at all.) I then interviewed some English native speakers about their thoughts. Nobody tried to stop me.

So the “brand name” mainly started as something to fill the down tube. I was not even suure about any future frame building activity at that time. But when I started to build my second frame, also that one needed a downtube name.

So that’s why my bikes are callled “Major Cycles”

 

 

Why “Major Cycles”

Paint Jobs

Today I want to describe how I got to the paint job design of my latest build completed.

The paint job of my first frame was easy to define and to decide. I’m not saying that I did not put any time or thoughts into it. But the main color (Lamborghini Rosso Competizione) was part of he project and even matched the model name: Competizione”. And at that time, a banderole was a perfectly fine design for me. So the first design was quite close to one of the most calssic paint schemes ever, the Colnago Saronni.

Major Cyles No. 1: “Competizione”

Ever since I’ve been collecting “cool bike colors”. One of those that I really loved from the first moment was the Toyota GT86′ Inferno Orange.

When I started to think about the design of my wife’s frame, I found that much more difficult than designing a paint scheme for yourself. I wanted the mein color to match her idea of bikes and cycling. I also wanted it to be kind of feminine (by the way: I totally overestimated her desire of having a feminine bicycle). So I pretty much started thinking about an inverse color scheme to my first frame, like some of the early Merckx frames. I thought, that was very classic, she found it boring.

Still with lots of white in mind, I developed the idea of longitudinal stripes on the tubes. And I asked her tons of questions about colors. I learned, she loves orange for bikes. Great. So after only some weeks I already had a solution. White with orange and blue stripes.

I prepared the frame with colored paper. I really liked the look. My wife appreciated the effort, but found it too pale, too “nice”. Not powerful.

But based on that, we could develop more ideas. With the help of “Paint” and some friends, I came up with what went to be the final paint design. I even drew “top tube views” in paint showing the lugs to give an impression to her and to me.

 

So what did I learn about making bikes for someone else?

  • It’s incredibly hard to imagine what someone else might like or not.
  • We tend to become victims of our expectations and clichés
  • I need to talk and discuss with the future bike owner about colors and designs
  • The result can still be 100% mine and 100% hers

As a result we are both incredibly happy with the paint.

Next week I’ll show the painted frame and final bike.

Paint Jobs

Neuausrichtung – Radical Change

Passend zum neuen Zeitalter auf “Bikesboardsandphotos” beginne ich diesen Beitrag auf Deutsch – und werde ihn in Englisch beenden. Folgende Änderungen werden diesen Blog ab sofort bloggiger und internationaler machen:

1.) Kurze Beiträge, bildlastig, bunt gemsicht in verschiedenen Bereichen des Themas

2.) Englisch

_________________________________________________________________

Welcome to my reinvented blog “bikesboardsandphotos”. To be more bloggy and more international, I will write much more short entries – and I will switch to English.

 

Neuausrichtung – Radical Change

Bespoked Bristol [Teil 4]: Favoriten

In diesem Beitrag soll es um Räder gehen, die mich auf die eine oder andere Art begeistert haben. Von einigen Herrstellern habe ich genau das erwartet, andere waren mir bekannt, aber ich hatte sie trotzdem nicht auf dem Schirm. Und von dem einen oder anderen hatte ich noch nie gehört.

Zugegeben: Die Lackierung ist und bleibt gewöhnungsbedürftig. Aber sie ist mutig und in sich stimmig – und sie passt irgendwie zu dem schrägen Konzept. Sturdy Cycles zeigte einen Vertreter einer recht neuen, aber gar nicht so sinnlosen Gattung Fahrrrad: Zeitfahrrad aus Stahl mit überflüssiger (aber witziger), integrierter Beleuchtung.

Sturdy Cycles: Low Profile at its best

Surdy Cycles Timetrail Steel Bike Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Sturdy Cycles Timetrail Steel Bike Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Sturdy Cycles Timetrail Steel Bike Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Zwischen Condor und einigen Händlerständen wartete eine meiner Lieblingsmarken (otisch) auf uns: Schöne Design-Projekte: Field Cycles

Einer meiner Lieblinge lehnte hinter/neben dam Stand an der Wand:

Field Cycles Track Bike Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Field Cycles Track Bike Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Field Cycles Track Bike Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Field Cycles Track Bike Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Zugegeben: In Realitas leidet der Eindruck durch den eher matten Lack und die etwas stumpfen Farben. Trotzdem kommt das Rad clear und puristisch daher, trotz der ausgefallenen Farben. Eindeutig, soetwas würde ich mir auch noch in den Keller stellen

Die Farben waren beim Brüderchen besser, aber die lackierte Vorbau-Lenker-Kombi war mir etwas too much…

Field Cycles at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

…dafür mit Lötproblemen im Detail. Ja, der Übergang ist schwierig. Perfekt ist, wenn man das nicht sieht.

Field Cycles at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Field Cycles at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Ein weiteres Kapitel der Geschichte Steuerrohre: Saffron
Eigentlich die perfekten Messeräder: Perfekte Verarbeitung, perfekte Lackierung, alles passend aufgebaut. Aber am Ende waren es die bekannten Rahmen und ein sehr steriler Auftritt.

Im Vergleich sieht man gut, was ein passendes Steuerrohr ausmachen kann: Blau in dick

Saffron Road Bike at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Saffron Road Bike at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Saffron Road Bike at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Saffron Road Bike at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Weiss in schlank

Saffron white Road Bike at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Saffron white Road Bike at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Saffron white Road Bike at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Saffron white Road Bike at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Aber ich würde den beiden Saffrons nicht gerecht, wenn ich sie nur auf den vergleich der Steuerrohre reduziere. Das vlaue Rad mit dem zarten Metallic-Lack und den polierten Applikationen war ein wirkliches Schmuckstück: Aufwendig hergestellt und absolut bis ins Detail perfekt verarbeitet.

Das weisse war eine echte Schönheit, die mehrfarbig lackierten Flächen an den gabelinnenseiten und am Sitzrohr passen perfekt zu dem Rad. Letztendlich gibt es an diesem Rad selbst absolut nichts zu kritiseiren!

…und zum Schluss noch eine Überraschung gleich neben dem Eingang: Shand aus Schottland
Rahmen produziert in Schottland, Räder ebenda montiert. Die Idee hinter dem Projekt: Ein Rahmen für alle Gelegenheiten. Dazu sind die hinteren Rahmenenden offen und können mit unterschiedlichen Ausfallenden verbunden werden. Das Tretlagergehäse nimmt PressFit-Lager oder Exzenter auf. Dadurch ist von Riemen bis Fixie, mit oder ohne Gepäckträgerösen und mit verschiedenen Scheibenbremsadaptern alles drin.

Shand at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Shand at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Shand at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Shand zeigt den “Großen”, wie man Gepäckträger- und Schutzblechösen optisch ansprechend integriert:

Shand at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Das teil- und auswechselbare Ausfallende (leider keine taugliche Aufnahme von rechts):

Shand at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Fazit:
Letztendlich habe ich an vielen Stellen genau das gesehen, was ich sehen wollte: Newcomer und Startups mit guten, frischen Ideen. Konzepte und Lösungen für Fahrradfahren zu jedem Anlass und zu jeder Zeit, darunter eben Shand und einige Commuter in 650b. England ist eben nicht Amerika, und das englische Wetter verlangt wohl nicht primär nach Candy, sondern nach funktionierenden Rädern.

Allle Bilder (und noch ein bis zwei mehr) auf meinem Flickr-Account:
[URL=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalkers_photos/”%5Dhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalkers_photos/%5B/URL%5D

Bespoked Bristol [Teil 4]: Favoriten

Bespoked Bristol [Teil3]: Alte und neue Lieblinge

Chris King war mit vielen bunten Steuersätzen und Naben angereist – und mit den Rädern seiner Marke “Cielo”. Die drehenden Teile sind qualitativ über jeden Zweifel erhaben und sehen in vielen Farben schick aus. Faszinierend zu sehen, welche herausragende Stellung sich CK in der Branche erarbeitet hat!

Chris King Naben

Chris King Steuersätze UKHBS

Leider (in meinen Augen) haben sich seine Räder vom non-nonsense bzw. understatement wegentwickelt zu etwas, das irgendwie sehr nah am Mainstream liegt:

Cielo Sportiv Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Cielo Sportiv UKHBS

Nach dieser holprigen Einleitung un eine holprige Überleitung zu meinen Lieblingen: Ich fange an mit einem sympathischen Newcomer newcomer: “Post” mit einem sympathischen Auftritt, einem sympathischen no-nonsense-bike und einem seltsamen Steuerrohr.

Post at UKHBS Bespoked Bristol

Post Cycles at UKHBS Bespoked Bristol

Zum Lenkerband schreibe ich lieber nichts, da fehlen mir die Worte.

Noch ein newcomer (bzw. eine newcomerin): Hartley

Hartley at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Hartley at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Hartley at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

tatsächlich eines der besten “Gebrauchsräder” der Show:

Hartley utility bike at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

mit ganz kleinen Nachlässigkeiten:

Hartley Utility Cycle at Bespoked Bristol UKHBS

Bespoked Bristol [Teil3]: Alte und neue Lieblinge