In October 2020 as the world was hopeful of a recovery from COVID, Mike Ramseyer and his friend Hans Hatheier engaged on an epic 1000 mile cycle adventure from London to Venice. The journey took them through magnificent scenery, brutal climbs such as the 7,000 feet (2134 m) ascent along the German Swiss Alps, much pedalling, many hours on the saddle, pain and fun. Read on…
I follow Mike Ramseyer on Strava and the long-haul cycling distances he covers are simply amazing. In October last year Mike and his cycling buddy did London to Venice… one thousand miles (1650Km). Epic!
I asked Mike if he would care to answer a few questions about the adventure. Mike is the sort of person who inspires others to embark on similar adventures. I was keen to learn more…
Mike Ramseyer: Before I get into it, I just wanted to say how motivational your comments were on my journey. Knowing that people are following your adventure really helps keep the pedals turning especially in those darker moments.
Tony Sousa: Thank you Sir🙏. Mike, may I please post some photos of your epic cycle journey London to Italy to FitandFunNow.com?
M.K.: Yes, please do I would be flattered.
T.S.: How did those legs feel at the finish?
M.R.: The legs felt great at the finish. In fact, as a tour like this progresses your legs get stronger after about the 6th day. In the first 6 days I rode 617 miles (993 Kms). For about the first 5 days it was too painful to tense my quads when resting in bed at the day’s end.
During those early days my quads protested every morning, but after the first few turns of the pedals they felt fine. The biggest problem was being comfortable on the saddle, especially with a rucksack and it was important to guard against serious saddle sores. Again, as the ride progressed this became less of an issue. Pain you forget! I raced in the Gran Fondo Prosecco Cycling, which was the end goal of the trip 2 days after arriving in Valdobbiadene, Italy, and felt very strong and had a great ride.
T.S.: The name (and nationality) of your cycling partner
M.R.: I rode with my Austrian friend Hans Hatheier. Hans is 20 years younger than me and a stronger rider. We met a couple of years ago, both racing in the GF Prosecco Cycling. Hans knew that I had cycled to Italy and back and said that if I ever did a trip like it again he would like to join me. When I asked him, it took 2 seconds for him to say ‘yah’!
We met in Calais, France. I rode 95 miles (153 Kms) that day from London and across the channel by ferry.
Hans took the train to Brussels and cycled for two days, 160 miles (258 Kms), to meet me.
On the 5th day we decided to set off together but not ride together. This worked really well for both of us. Hans could fly on ahead and I could go at my pace, stopping to take photographs and for coffee extra breaks. That way I didn’t feel under pressure to keep up and Hans didn’t feel frustrated having to go at my slower pace even though he was happy to do so.
We got on incredibly well and enjoyed a catch up at the end of the day.
[Click on any photo to enlarge and view in a carousel]
T.S.: What was the total distance covered?
M.R.: My total, from my home near London to Valdobbiadene in Italy was 899 miles in 10 days. I then cycled further south to my son’s house and then onto Venice to collect my hire car.
Then the Prosecco Cycling Gran Fondo race on the Sunday was a further 60 miles. So, in total London to Valdo, then Venice then the race was a fraction under 1000 miles (1609 Kms) in 11 days.
T.S.: The most difficult climb (and the reason it was the most difficult)?
M.R.: In total I climbed 16,000 meters, 52,000 feet. The hardest climb was the Swiss Alps Fluelapass (2383 meters) that climbs up from Davos and drops over to Zernez. The reason why it is a hard climb is that you start to climb gently from about the 15 miles point and continue to climb up an ever-increasing gradient for the next 50 miles (80 Kms).
Hairpin bends are a cyclist’s friend but the Fluelapass doesn’t really have any until close to the summit and those are very few. There are also some long sections that appear to go straight uphill!
The pre-Fluelapass climb from Klosters to above Davos, where there is then thankfully a descent into Davos and the foot of the Fluelapass, is particularly vicious. I am using terms here I never normally use when describing climbing. I try never to let a negative thought enter my head when riding, and therefore do not usually include terms such as hard, brutal, vicious in my narrative.
T.S.: The longest distance in a single Day
M.R.: The longest distance in a single day? 115 miles (185 Kms), 7,000 feet (2134 m) ascent in 8.50 hours in the saddle on Day 6 from Tiengen in Germany to Weesen and the foot of the Alps in Switzerland.
The German hills climbing to over 3000 feet (914 m) offered some of the greatest scenery and payback hills, in that every climb seemed to offer a brilliant descent.
T.S.: Are you considering doing this journey again?
M.K: On Day 4, I might have answered ‘no!’ Am I considering it? No, not really. If I was asked to do it again ‘yes’ I would.
I have now ridden twice to Italy and once back, pretty much on the same route so would probably be looking for something different.
T.S.: And if so when?
M.R.: Well, not this week ha ha!
T.S.: A few do’s and don’ts to anyone interested in doing the same journey
M.R.: Train. My training target was 5000 miles (8500 Kms) from January to the day I set off, achieved. 100% positive mental attitude.
Do not let a negative thought enter your head. What are you going to do half-way up a mountain, catch a cab? No. Mental strength is more important than physical strength. Minimal equipment on board the bike.
Mail all you energy gels, powders, maps to your hotels in advance so they are waiting for you and you don’t carry excess weight. Let the hotel know. Confirm your bookings. Ensure they have bike storage. Plan the route very, very carefully.
Use Garmin for route planning and Komoot for the details. I used a Garmin 830 Edge for my daily navigation. It worked perfectly. Use as many cycle paths as possible, they are brilliant in Europe. There will be road closure and diversions be prepared for them.
Book your accommodation in advance, so you have a daily target and hot shower waiting for you. Wash you kite every day to avoid saddle sores.
Use chamois cream. Pace yourself. Tomorrow is another day.
Tell lots of people that you are going to do it. This puts pressure on you to actually do it. Enjoy the freedom of having to do or think of anything every day apart from having to ride your bike.
Don’t take risks. Descend and live to tell the tale.
Don’t panic when you get lost, relax and sort it out. Tomorrow is a good day.
Source: Captain Tom Don’t NOT do it, it will change your life Just do it!
T.S: Is there an email should anyone like to reach you?
M.R.: email@example.com Thank you and thank you Tony.
T.S.: Passion and perseverance. Inspirational to say the least!! Congratulations to you and Hans and thank you so much for the feed-back🙏🙏. May you have many years of happy cycling 👏👌👍🚴♂️🚵♂️😎. Cheers🍻🥂