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With Iggy Pop to the end of the world: Sara Hallbauer drives away corona blues by bike


Around 4,500 kilometers, 30,000 meters in altitude, without any outside support from ten countries - these are the cornerstones of the “Northcape 4000” bike race. Sara Hallbauer from Wackersberg to the North Cape.

Around 4,500 kilometers, 30,000 meters in altitude, without any outside support from ten countries - these are the cornerstones of the “Northcape 4000” bike race.

Sara Hallbauer from Wackersberg to the North Cape.

Wackersberg / North Cape - It was the blues that inspired Sara Hallbauer to this insane act, the corona blues: By bike from Rovereto on Lake Garda across Europe to the North Cape. Around 4,500 kilometers, 30,000 meters in altitude, without any outside support from ten countries - the time limit: 22 days. “At the second lockdown in early December, I was so annoyed that I wanted to do something nice and inspiring. An adventure that I look forward to and that I could work towards. "

The eCommerce and digital marketing specialist had enough time because last April she had given up a well-paid job at an Upper Bavarian outdoor store to become self-employed. And on top of that a hobby that could be brought in useful: endurance races and ultra-marathons with a racing bike on the road or a gravel bike on gravel; so-called brevets, in which a given tour has to be driven within a certain period of time. Everyone sets their own pace and their own (sleep) breaks. The only obligation is to pass certain checkpoints, which is documented by the racing jury with a stamp in the logbook and a tracker mounted on the bike. Strictly speaking, a certification is not a competition.

The tough and petite woman had already completed numerous brevets (French for diploma) in the past: 200, 400, 600 brevets.

"On my longest 24-hour tour, the Alpenbrevet, I covered 364 kilometers and 4770 meters in altitude in one go," says Hallbauer.

Take the lightness of the birds with you and fly up the street. "

Horst Schwanke, ultracycling expert and Hallbauer's mentor

The temporary culmination of her brevet passion should be "The Great Divide" with the mountain bike in late summer 2020; from the Canadian to the Mexican border, lengthways through the USA. “I actually gave that to myself and my husband Axel when I turned 40. The bikes had already been bought, the tickets booked, the bags basically packed, ”says Hallbauer. Actually, but puff cake; Lockdown instead of clicking the pedals.

So now the "Northcape 4000" and a blues as an initial spark. At the same time, Hallbauer is basically a punk - at least musically. With their musical twin Iggy Pop, the Godfather of Punk, and his evergreen “The Passenger” in their ears, they set off from Rove-reto to the northeast to the Slovenian border. "I am a passenger, and I ride, and I ride ...". 192 ultracyclists tackled the fourth edition of this ultra marathon in the northern Italian city, including two dozen women. “Far too few” for Hallbauer's taste, who postulates: “Girls, dare to do it. There is more in you than you think you can. "

Curiously, she got to know Askan von Schirnding from Kochel as one of the first North Cape adventurers. He started to be the first to reach the North Cape, but had to give up after four days due to muscular problems in the neck, while in the lead, but still give up (we reported). The Wackersberger by choice had prepared accurately for the long haul: physically hardened through long ski tours, countless Zwift challenges (virtual bike training on the roller) and dozens of kilometers of training in wind and weather, as well as mentally thanks to an ultra-cycling experienced mentor. He had given her as a credo on the way: Take the lightness of the birds with you and fly up the street. “I kept looking up at the sky to see if I could spot a bird,” says Hallbauer with a smile. "It worked."

From Slovenia we went on to Hungary and Lake Balaton, where the first stamp for the logbook was waiting at the checkpoint.

“On the first few days I didn't want to overdo it, so it was only between 220 and 240 kilometers,” reports the cyclist, who had equipped her endurance bike with various bags and luggage rolls and reached an impressive 388 kilometers on her longest tour stage.

B&B instead of bivouac sack preserves a touch of civilization

While the most ambitious cyclists sat practically non-stop in the saddle and had a half-hour power nap in the ditch at most, Hallbauer treated himself to a bed in a simple guesthouse every evening: B&B instead of bivouac sack, even if the alarm clock at 3:30 in the morning after only four to five hours of sleep beeped.

“A warm shower, a soft bed and a quick wash of the cycling clothes”, that is necessary in order to keep a touch of civilization during the adventure.

In Eastern Europe it was already more rudimentary, the streets more bumpy: "... I ride through the city's backsides ..." You get so much from the country, says the ultracycler, when you slowly stumble through the country and have to stop frequently to get around To buy provisions.

“I almost couldn't get enough of that.

I was starving almost all the time. "

Ivanova's accidental death feeds thoughts of giving up

The second stamp was waiting in Krakow, which the cyclist worked out with sweat and trembling knees.

"The trip there was pure horror," reports the Swabian, who originally came from the tranquil town of Ehingen an der Donau before she had a steep career as a marketing and management specialist across the whole of Germany.

“I had to drive around tons of construction sites, and trucks thundered past me that are not used to cyclists and therefore show no consideration.” Olga Ivanova, a Ukrainian participant, was also undoed, who had a fatal accident in Budapest.

When Hallbauer found out about it on the evening of the seventh day, she too had suffered a lot of hardship: a flat tire and broken tools had thrown her properly off schedule. In addition, the sparingly dosed seat cream retaliated with enormous buttocks pain. “And then there was this horror news. If I ever thought of giving up, it was that evening, ”recalls the 41-year-old.

But the physical and mental depression passed, as did hundreds of tranquil kilometers in the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. After the two-hour ferry crossing from Tallinn to Helsinki came the logistically most challenging part of the race. Since there are hardly any petrol stations and almost no supermarkets along the Finnish highway as far as Oulu, the main problem was getting enough provisions on the bike. "The landscape was beautiful, but in and of itself it was just a dull step in front of you," reports the woman from Wackersberg.

Lapland brought a change with its huge protected areas for reindeer and - of course, where reindeer are, Santa Claus is not far.

Hallbauer met this in Santa Claus City Rovaniemi, the last checkpoint and the beginning of the Arctic Circle "... I see the stars come out tonight ..." Anyone who has made this stage can call themselves a Polar Rider.

But the idyll got a sudden crack shortly afterwards - rather the jacket of the rear wheel.

In order to save weight, Hallbauer had put two spare hoses in his sparse luggage, but no spare coat.

“Then I was seized by pure panic,” she confesses.

"I had come that far, and now two days before the North Cape everything threatened to fail due to a banal flat tire."


View of the Karwendel: Sara Hallbauer cranks down countless kilometers in the Isarwinkel.

© Axel Hallbauer

How good to have a husband with iron nerves on the cell phone in situations like this.

Axel straightened his heroine again, and a Lithuanian motorcycle tourist who was also on the way to the North Cape actually managed to get hold of a coat on the way.

"The man was so fascinated by my cycling adventure that he wanted to try engraving at home."

A freezer 200 meters below the North Sea

Now the 17th and final day of the Northcape 4000 mission dawned, and after the border with Norway there was only one challenge waiting - tiny compared to the previous ones: the North Cape tunnel, that seven-kilometer-long freezer 200 meters below the North Sea leads to the island of Mageroya, on which the North Cape is located. It's cold, pitch-dark kilometers, but when Sara Hallbauer comes to light, her heart sings: "... singin la la la la la la ..."

As eventful the trip was, the arrival at the North Cape is so sober and straightforward: No confetti, no fanfares, just an official who officially records the travel time - 17 days, 1 hour and 56 minutes.

This makes Sara Hallbauer the second solo woman to cross the finish line in the Northcape 4000.

The fastest, Olena Abramova from Ukraine, was only an hour and a half earlier.

For comparison: the fastest of the 111 finishers, Steven Le Hyaric (France), took 10 days, 9 hours and 25 minutes.

“But the time or that I drove an average of 270 kilometers a day doesn't count,” confirms Hallbauer, “what counts is what wonderful memories remain in your head and in your heart”.

Sara's Bikepacking Blog

Also read:

A superlative experience: Trail runner Marcel Höche on Mont Blanc

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Source: merkur

All sports articles on 2021-10-15

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