30 hours and a little wiser (by Holger Seidel)
After Holger Seidel managed to break the record (27-28 August 2022) and improve the World Record, in the brand new Bülk Mk 1, by more than 3 hours (1094 km in 29h:57min), we asked him to share his thoughts with us, before and during crossing Germany from South to North in his velomobile. An awesome performance by Holger and a great team work. We are proud of you!
● Official record confirmation by World UltraCycling Association (see here)
● More details about Holger Seidel Velomobile Record Ride (see here)
● Discover Bülk and other velomobiles (see here)
In the end, over a year of training, preparations and organization run to a day or, at least that’s what we hoped, under 33 hours. Some questions remain unanswered until the end. But if it is to become a record, these doubts must also be hidden. The final preparations started on Thursday, 25.08.2022 with the pick up from the rental bus, the loading of velomobile and material, the “collecting” of the first team members and the journey to Oberstdorf. Of course, on the way, you look at the later transit routes, some of which were in the immediate vicinity of the highway and yes, even with a car the journey to the south is not a piece of cake.
Friday is our day of preparations. Wow, there is still so much work ahead of us. The main vehicle and the replacement velomobile/vehicle still have to be completely tuned and stickered, the purchases made, cars prepared, agreements made… Actually, the day is much too short for a team that is not so well-rehearsed. But the test drive is approved, the launch site is inspected, the rest of the crew arrives, the first pictures are taken and then it’s off to bed.
Saturday at 4:00 a.m. the alarm clock rings, at 4:30 a.m. is the departure to the start in Birgsau. In the morning it was all wet after a rain and there were quite pleasant temperatures. We will then bring forward the exact start date a little, because waiting makes no sense. Let’s go. I drive the first few kilometers very cautiously, it’s damp and I don’t want to risk taking off under any circumstances. So I drive in nicely, which takes quite a long time for me. Then the first supporters made their appearance along the way. It was supposed to stay that way until the finish line, there were always people with super motivating actions along the route. Even if I didn’t recognize everyone, I was super happy to see them !
At the very beginning I had a bit of stomach pain, but it soon went away and then it started in constant flow. I have music in my ears and also have radio contact with the escort vehicle. What counts for me is: concentration on the route, as well as the values of the power meter and heart rate monitor. I only looked at other values about 3-4 times in the next 30 hours. In my head I have a four-part route: Birgsau-Würzburg, Würzburg-Holle, Holle-Wischhafen, Wischhafen-Target. And I am always in my segment and not already at the finish line or somewhere else. The body is running and it should stay that way. For the first 300 km there is a target heart rate of approx. 130, sometimes slightly more on inclines. Were there any problems along the way? No! Were there tricky situations? Yes, some. The GPS signal in the Bülk is lost, new construction sites appear, a few thunderstorms try to fool us, tire damage, small things on the Bülk, a raccoon on the street… But I’m in the ”tunnel”, it can’t hurt me, I have the best TEAM with me, in this way I fade out the “difficult” parts. I don’t really have the Record in my head. Body and mind seem to have agreed on this one day and so I unwind the kilometers.
Then comes the meters in altitude in the Main area and in the Rhön. I had the greatest respect for this section. Hartmut announces all relevant inclines: length, incline percentage, duration and wattage to be pedaled. So we’ll go through this to the last hills in the north and that was a recipe for success. In between I always took something out and regenerated it. After the relevant meters of altitude, I notice that things are still going great and exactly at that point many had the fear that it could not work. I was only a few minutes ahead of the minimum time, but that didn’t even exist for me. After the last few climbs in the foothills of the Harz Mountains, I knew that I could now turn up and so I slowly increased the pace and shortened the planned break times. After the first break, the food was only available in liquid form, I had no appetite for anything solid. Gel, liquid food, Isotrunk and during the breaks cola and water were enough. The night comes and I don’t get tired, no hallucinations, no significant drop in performance and I still really enjoy what I’m doing. From Celle it’s going to be a festival. Ride through the best velomobile terrain in the early morning hours at 50-60 km/h.
Then I really step on the gas to the Wischhafen-Glückstadt ferry. This still runs irregularly in the morning hours, the waiting times can be 30-40 minutes in the worst case. Crew: “Can you cover 22 km in less than 30 minutes (with the corresponding local crossings)?” Me: “I’ll do my best!”. At the beginning of the last stage, Fritz asks me if I want to track a target time. I understand: between 30 hours, 30 minutes and 30 hours, 50 minutes is realistic. But Fritz thinks he can crack the 30 hours. I didn’t think about that until the finish and I didn’t realize that it would be less than 30 hours. Crew: “Do you want to give it your all again?”… Me: “Yes, of course, but in the first section (after the ferry) with small/small (detours) that doesn’t make any sense. I’m going full throttle again for the last 2 hours.” And that’s how it will be, from the following/chase vehicle then on the last 50 km regular announcements with the targeted average. But I still don’t get that it’s about under 30 hours.
Time flies, we leave the last hills behind and head down to the sea. The wind is blowing rather unfavorably, but I’m not interested today. Legs are still going tremendously well, no signs of cramps and so I’m at my destination at the Danish border, still can’t quite believe the great reception and I’m just impressed that my body took it so well. No pain, no agony, lots of joy and relief.
Days like these can happen, but they are certainly not everyday or normal. And what sounds so easy was an enormous amount of work in advance. It’s not just the training, it’s the organization, the public relations, there are so many small things to be arranged. I would not have dared to hope that at the end there would be a new record of 29 hours and 57 minutes. You can say: Everyone did their best here! Many thanks to my entire support team. Many thanks also to all sponsors and donors who have made this venture/company possible. And at this point a big thank you for the support of Velomobile World ! Also a big thank you for the sparked enthusiasm, whether on the track or in the forum. These emotions carried me.