No doubt, the plan to cycle the first 300 km from Budapest on my way back home to Switzerland was ambitious. At the end it was not solely the snow and gust of wind with speed of up to 100 km/h, but also my incompetence to navigate without electronic devices (run out of energy, due to the cold temperatures), that stopped my way before Vienna.
OK with 246 km I road during the two days, I was not so far from the target, but near enough is not good enough ;-)
However the trip was filled with good experiences and I learned a lot about riding in the cold, the bike and myself.
Here my lessons learned:
- Never start a ride like this without a printed map
After the blackout of my cell phone and the navigation due to the cold temperature, I was completely lost and made several fatal navigation mistakes . As a former scout, I always thought to be fairly good to navigate with the sun, that was wrong. The sun rises less and starts setting shortly after 2 p.m. and turns the day to night shortly after 4 p.m. After cycling about 3 to 4 hours in extreme cold, my body and mind switches on reduced mode to save energy, reactions get slower and the error rate in taking fast and wise decisions rises.
- Carry water in a isolated bottle ore in a backpack
With temperatures of - 8C to -3C and the windshield factor my water turned to sludge after only 45 minutes driving, after about an hour no chance to drink.
- Put a tag on the bike and in my pocket
They should adhere minimum my name, an emergency contact and my blood type.
In case of an emergency I might not be able to properly articulate, especially in remote areas, where people do not speak English nor German (my Hungarian is still very limited), it can be very helpful that rescuer can quickly identify and help.
The bikepacking bags from Ortlieb worked extremly good. As always one first has to get used how to best pack all the equipment and what to store where, but after two days riding and packing I was already used to it and look forward to refine my packing routine.
As did not reach the original target Vienna, I was a bit disappointed. After driving back to Switzerland by car on Wednesday 4. January, I went to work by car on Thursday, but on Friday I filled up the missing kilometers by pedaling to work at -12C / 10F, so I ended the first week of my OSPA project with 350 km - a personal record for a week in January ;-)