Script:

NAVAD 1000 - the ultimate Swiss bikepacking race

6 days – 6 hours – 36 minutes

this is the exact time it took me to complete the bikepacking race NAVAD 1000 - an ultra-distance cycling race that is an extreme test of endurance, self-reliance and mental toughness.

According the bikepacking rules the riders have to follow the predefined rout from Romanshorn (lake of Constance) to Montreux (lake of Geneva) using a GPS navigation device but without any outside support. Instead of taking the direct way, the track leads over the Swiss alps and takes some obscure turns to accumulate the total of 1029 kilometers and more than 30’000 meters of elevation difference, this is more than 3 times climbing Mount Everest from sea to summit. Beside an excellent physical fitness, this extraordinary adventure requires versatile qualities in navigation, stamina and talent for improvisation.

Preparation first...

There are basically two approaches to attack this race, on one hand the independent bikers carrying lots of material as tent/shelter, sleeping bag, food etc that allows to ride and rest independent of time and location. On the other hand, cycling with as less equipment as possible to keep the weight low and have better riding and pushing capabilities. The second option requires a bit more organization for daily route planning and finding suitable places to eat and sleep but allows to better recover, especially when the wheater gets nasty.

Ready to go

As this was my first bikepacking race, I decided take kind of happy medium and sleep outside but victual in small shops and alp restaurants along the way, the perfect choice as I learned on my way.

 Ready for take-off - NAVAD 1000 I am coming!

Ready for take-off - NAVAD 1000 I am coming!

At the eve of the race, all participants gathered for the briefing, supper and exchange of experiences. Willi Felix the inventor and kind host of the NAVAD 1000 informed about the bikepacking rules and perils of the race. As he suffered from fracture of his clavicula he was forced to follow the race from the control center instead of participating. With a nice bunch of international riders I decided to spend the last night in the nearby hostel.


Sutarday 17. June 2017 – DAY 1

Next morning, shortly after I arrived at the port in Romanshorn, the first riders started and I had to hurry up to not miss my start/age group. 4 riders left every minute, so it took slightly more then 10 minutes to send all contestants on their long way to Montreux.

NAVAD_1000, 2017 - Mark Lauzon racing with his OSPA bike at the departure zone in Romanshorn, Switzerland

Initially we cycled in small groups and everyone tried to find the right pace. It was interesting to talk to so many riders during the first hours, every rider had his own story to tell, many of the combatants already raced the NAVAD 1000 before and could share their experiences. I often asked them; what they did learn from their recent participation and what they changed for this years edition. Often the answer was; I wish to be a bit faster or this time I will sleep some of the nights outside. I was impressed to talk to a riders from UK who had twice successful participated in the Tour Divide, the origin/mother of this kind of bikepacking events - the Mekka for every bikepacker as I learned.


There are no coincidences, but Markus the first NAVAD 1000 rider I already met in the train to Romanshorn, turned out to have a very similar pace as me, so we spent most of the day riding together. Markus had participated at the first NAVAD 1000 back in 2015 and setup a very clear plan for the upcoming race days.

Around 9 p.m after approximately 14 hours riding, I decided to stop my day and let Markus doe his last climb alone. I was exhausted and required a rest. After a bath in cold river in Stein, I tried to find a place to eat in town, unfortunately I had to cycle to the next village to get a warm soup. My first night I slept out on a field of fresh cutten gras, it was already dew wet when I arrived so I was happy to have my bivybag with me.

Impression of DAY 1

Facts and figures - DAY 1

From Romanshorn to Stein / 190 km / 4000 Hm

Navad-1000_OSPA_Day-1-profile.PNG

Highlight

The spirit of adventure – the journey into the unknown. Talking to so many combatants during the first hours of the race.

Lowlight

To cycle an extra 10 kilometers to get a warm soup for supper.

Lessons learned

Plan a bit better and take more break during the day.


Sunday 18. June 2017 - DAY 2

A cool and wet start before the first very hot day. When I woke up shortly after 4 a.m it was fairly cool and wet from from the dew. Packing the wet bivy-, and sleeping-bag into the Ortlieb handlebar bag was no problem, I allready knew it will be a very hot day, so I planned to unpack and dry everything during my lunch break what later turned out to be in front of the monastery in Einsiedeln.

Climbing the last mountain of the day with a magical arrival on the summit. By that time didn't knew I  would have another 3 hours cycling ahead of me and that I would go to sleep without eating. 

Facts and figures

From Stein to Zug 

Navad-1000_OSPA_Day-2-profile.PNG

Highlight

Swim in the lake Lauerz (Lauerzersee) and the sunset on top of the hill...

Lowlight

To go to bed without supper after such a long day :-(

Lessons learned

Better planning would help - or at least buy an extra sandwich in case there are no more restaurants on the way.


Monday 19. June 2017 - DAY 3

The last mile is on finish when you cross the line.

NAVAD_1000, 2017 - DAY 3, breakdown - repairing tire with 2 Samurai strips

Facts and figures

From Zug to Flühli

Navad-1000_OSPA_Day-3-profile.PNG

Highlight

The coffee brake in Sursee (only about 10 km from my home), where my wife Edina and youngest dougther Audrie joined. Nice swim in the "kleine Emme".

Lowlight

2 flat tires (self inflicted) when I lifted my heavy bike over the last fence (barbwire) of the day. Missing the official depot with my race food as of km 500. 

Lessons learned

Stay concentrated, till the last second, 


Tuesday 20. June 2017 - DAY 4

The routinge starts taking over.

Facts and figures

From Flühli to Grindelwald 

Navad-1000_OSPA_Day-4-profile.PNG

Highlight

Morning coffee in Restaurant Kurhaus, Flühli

Lowlight

Hot, hot, hot weather...

Lessons learned

To know when it is time to rest. 


Wednesday 21. June 2017 - DAY 5

Starting dry and ending wet...

Facts and figures

Grindelwald to Lenk

Navad-1000_OSPA_Day-5-map.PNG

Highlight

Röschti breakfast after the first climb of the day on Kleine Scheidegg.
Visit of my aunt and oncle on the way.
Finding a very professional shop in Lauterbrunnen to change brake pads and disk. Very friendly staff - shop owner (Imboden Bike, Lauterbrunnen)

Lowlight

Muddy last summit - check images. I faced exteme difficulty to find a dry place to sleep, to sleep in a cemetery was really not my plan, but at least it was save and calm.

Lessons learned

Taking the required time to keep my OSPA bike in shape. Keeping calm in difficult but crucial situations (stuck in the mud on top of the mountain in the middle of the dark night.


Thursday 22. June 2017 - DAY 6

Some days are longer than others....

Facts and figures

Navad-1000_OSPA_Day-6-profile.PNG

Lenk to Vaulruz

Highlight

Lunch - Rösti in a superb Alp Restaurant. Beatiful view of the Swiss alps.

Lowlight

Troublesome walking and pushing. Dangerous trail to walk with he hard bike shoes and a fully loaded bike.  

Lessons learned

Keep on walking - how steep the way may be...


Friday 23. June 2017 - Day 7

Thanks God its Friday....

Facts and figures

Vaulruz to Montreux

Navad-1000_OSPA_Day-7-profile.PNG

Highlight

To finally arrive in Montreux was a very emotional moment. It took some time to sink and realize what I just did. 

Lowlight

I expected a nice downhill to Montreux as kind of a reward for the hard time I had the last days. But the track was tough to the very last moment.

Lessons learned

The race is only finish when you see Freddie...

Resume about the Navad 1000

After the wedding with my wife Edina and the birth of my 3 daughters - the NAVAD 1000 was probably the most intense experience of my life. The elevation profile represents pretty much the mood swings I had to deal with.  

@Willi (inventor and host of the NAVAD 1000)  you are awesome, thousand thanks for this unforgettable adventure, but I have to admit, the longer the race went, the more I was "swearing like a trooper" about some route sections you condemned us to ride (aka: walking & pushing). 
Whoever rode the NAVAD 1000 knows what I mean ;-)


Closing words nearly 24h after arriving in Montreux


Review of my equipment

Long version - only watch if novice to bikepacking ;-)

If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact me.

All the best and happy biking, Mark