That should read “Es is S.I.S.” Schlaflos im Sattel 2010. (Sleepless in the Saddle)
It was planned as a two-man, nine-hour race. It ended up being less, and yet so much more.
I was invited to take the place of the second man on a two-man team. Cleveland (wunnspeed) was looking for someone and I mentioned that I’d like to do an overnight or 12 hour race before I rill the big four-oh.
He said his teammate wasn’t available any longer, and asked if I would like to step in.
“You know I’m slow, right”
“No problem. It’s lots of guys drinking beer and then there’s a bike race.”
Turns out the missus didn’t want to go, as she didn’t really talk to anyone during the overnight race, and maybe she just didn’t like to be support instead of on a bike racing like the rest of us idiots.
“It is a really cool event. You’ll either love Phaty or you guy’s will be kicking each other’s asses by midnight. You’re that similar.”
-well, if THAT’S not the best invitation…-
“Sure, but before I give a definite ‘Yes’, you need to hear these things three.”
I lowered my gaze and voice to convey the seriousness of what I was saying.
“I’m fat and slow.”
“No, seriously… I’m not even near as fit as you, old man. And I like beer. If I do this, you better accept that I’m not in it to win it.”
“I’m not either. It’s just a lot of fun and there all kinds of cool people. I just don’t want to do it solo.”
“Ok. Im fat and slow.”
“I like beer.”
“Well… DUH,” he said rubbing my buddah-like belly for luck and maybe something more.
“And 3, I snore. Since I’ll be using all of your camping crap, you should know if we share a tent. I snore like a rusty chainsaw. More so after scotch.”
“Check. We have separate tents, I think.”
It was settled. I was going off to a race in some far-off bit of Germany with a singlespeeding maniac with thighs the size of tree trunks to have my ass handed to me. The weekend was looking up, in a grim and foreboding sort of way.
Then he crashed. His frame snapped and he ended up in ICU. One of my first comments was “It’s just because he has second thoughts of doing SiS with me. He doesn’t have the heart to back out, so he’s pulling this ‘I hurt my widdle face’ move.”
Well, unbeknownst to me, he ended up regaining consciousness and organizing a place for me on yet another team. Well, I’ll be damned. Now just to get there.
“OH,” he wrote in an email, “I’m still going, Im just not riding.” Dude is way more hardcore than I make myself out to be. Holy fuck.
Friday comes, and I’m all packed and ready to go. Its raining and gross out. The Cleveland-McDonald team roll up and we get my crap packed in. Off we were to Weilheim and Pfalsicher Wald near Kaserslautern.
The drive consisted of traffic, traffic and construction traffic.
1-spd “It wasn’t THIS bad last year.”
wife – “It’s ALWAYS this bad.”
1-spd “No… last year it wasn’t…”
wife – “Last year we didn’t get to camp until eleven!”
1 spd “Yeah… well… uh… IT’S NEVER TAKEN THIS LONG !”
wife – goggles “Yeah… right”
1 spd “We should have left last night.”
wife – “You say that EVERY YEAR!”
1 spd “Well, This time I MEAN IT !”
Back and forth for kilometer after kilometer. The GPS sent us on the most ass-backward routing to avoid traffic, and with every open country road we had zero stress or traffic, but then it happened.
wife – “It just added 45 minutes to our trip.”
1 spd “What? Da fuck?!!?! Goddamnit !”
I sat shotgun and for most every silence I would check the GPS for kilometers left, and start in with a rousing,”285 kilometers to go, 285 kilometers!!!” It got old pretty fast.
We arrive in P.W. and come in thru the back door to Weilheim. Its a forest with at least 4 paper mills. There wasn’t that pulp-mulch-paper mill fart smell that I was expecting, but It was really gorgeous. Nothing like Munich which is all but flat. Tall trees, cliffs, red red rock and sand. This was a perfect place to have a race, or at least ride for the weekend.
We roll into camp and get as close as possible to the start. I grabbed as much of my crap as I could, since they were going to be sleeping in some dentist’s place for the weekend. No football-field camping for the broken.
As we slowly made out way up to the site, we heard name-calling and greetings being shouted to 1-speed.
“He’s a rock star. You better go look for Andre. He’s going to be here a while.”
Eventually **** saw us and whipped out a microphone.
“Phaty, where are you?… PHATY?!!?!”
“Why isn’t my mic working?”
“You have to turn it on first.”
“Oh, OK… Wait you can hear me! What do you want?”
“Why don’t you come down here and greet the number one racer?”
“What? What the fucking fuck are you talking about? I’m busy.”
“I said, why don’t you come down and greet your ‘Number One Racer?!!?!”
“What the hell are you TALKING ABOUT?”
(at this point, I wanted to grab the mic and yell “1-SPEED IS HERE YOU ASS! COME SAY HELLO ! ! !” )
“Michael Cleveland is here.”
“HOLY SHIT! I’LL BE RIGHT THERE ! ! !”
Greetings, hugs and general rock-star reception ensue. Everyone it seemed had good words and congratulations for him on such a speedy recovery. Well deserved they were, and well-liked he is.
Friday night is a get together with lots of good food, beer and Schalmmbein. They aren’t everyones cup of tea, but they fit me quite nicely. I hung out with Andre, my new teammate and at one point, 1-speed and wife called it a night. They had a drive down out of the camp and to the house, so they said their goodnights and went off into the darkness.
Andre turned to me and asked, “You feel like a scotch?”
“Does the pope fuck little boys?” was my reply.
We grabbed 2 doubles and scooted closer to the stage. At one point I was snapping pics and Andre handed me his glasses. “I’ll be right back.” he slurred as he shoved his way into the mosh pit. The night went on like that until we both had enough and stumbled back to our small tent and snored the darkness away.
The day started off with a light fog that burned off quite quickly, and an ‘all-you-can-eat’ style breakfast for 5 euros. I started with my usual red-eye for 3 euros. (When asked why espresso AND coffee in the same cup, I replied, “Coffee is just not strong enough.”
“Oh. I see. And Espresso is too strong?”
“Oh, no. There’s just not enough of it.”
After filling up I went back to the tent and got my bike on. I had forgotten my pedals and helmet in 1-speed’s car, so I was basically S.O.L. until they showed up. In camp there is no signal for your cell, so I had to stumble down and out of camp for about 2km to get one at the pool. Amazingly, there were already a few hardy should splashing around in there as My battery died saying ‘Good Morning’ to the wife and 2-month old I left at home. She insisted that I come and do this. I had been talking about it all year, so there was no way she was going to let me miss it after all that.
The rest of the day passed more or less uneventfully. As 1 rolled around, I got my helmet, shoes and pedals and we decided to try to roll the course beforehand to get an idea of what was in store for me when the sun went down. We rolled out of camp, and hit the first climb right away, then proceeded to get lost. We ran into the same 3 groups of like-minded riders who were also turned around, and eventually we found the singletrack and last climb up to the infamous ‘downhill’ section.
(It is so-named because most every year someone injures themselves on this section. It starts with a pretty steep pitch down with nothing but ankle deep sand. Braking is NOT recommended. Just roll thru the 60-70 feet of nonsense, and when it hardens up, THEN you can brake. Otherwise, you’re going down. I learned the hard way.)
We roll back into camp and barely had time for a cold one before the singlespeed race started. I threw on my half-assed outfit and got my butt to the line. Four laps later, I wasn’t even close to the pack , but I got 2 hand-ups and looked good doing it.
Everyone headed back to their respective areas, and made small talk; running out the clock until race time.
At the beginning I was told I had to come up front with all the other riders.
“It’s really important.” said Andreas.
“EVERYONE RAISE YOUR RIGHT HAND AND REPEAT AFTER ME. I SWEAR, THAT WHILE ON THE TRAIL, I WILL BEHAVE AND NOT BE AN ASSHOLE, OR SO HELP ME, I WILL GET STRUCK BY LIGHTNING WHILE ON THE SHITTER.”
Now THAT’S how you start a race.
Fat Germans in Lederhosen show up with Hellboy-like guns and signal the start with bowel-quivering explosions that would make any White Zombie fan proud. And off they went.
I was up third, so it was time for another beer and some food. For the race, all the locals come out to support the riders. And I mean all night. People camp on the course with barbecues, lawn chairs cowbells… you name it. At the start5, they also bring in some local wine for cheep cheep and cook lots of delicious, if bizarre food. (I mean who heaps a pound of lasagna on a plate with literally two pieces of lasagna buried deep within? If I had wanted meat, then sure, but DAMN people!!! I need pasta!)
Amyhow, the race has only begun when the first injury happened, and it was a doozy from what we heard. when the chopper came and hoisted the rider out, we got word that he was OK, but his bar had slipped in his stem, and he went up and over, breaking his leg.
“Everyone remember. This is upped to be FUN. DON’T GET CRAZY. Be careful and take it easy. We still have 5 hours to go” Came the announcement from Phaty.
My turn came and went uneventfully. I had tweaked my knee earlier in the day, so as I tried to get my singlespeed on, I was told forcefully, “NO.” by said knee. I pushed up and rode down. When I got in much later than I wanted, I said I’d be taking a pass on the next round, and possibly all night. I was right. I was pissed at myself and my bad cartilage. I am bound and determined to go back and really kick ass next year, but with gears. Singlespeed apparently doesn’t agree with my joints. I might even reconsider the fully rigid approach as well.
As 6 am rolled around the announcement was made that all riders must leave for the last lap in the next 5 minutes, or your race was over. Then it was over.
I don’t know who won what, but I do know that the ladies who won were all teeny-tiny. Like Kerry Litka-like tiny. As they shoved thru the crowd to get their respective trophies, I was wondering who they were talking about? Was this the announcement for the kids’ race yesterday?
Anyhow, If you have a chance to get over for this race, I can personally and VERY HIGHLY recommend it. If you race, it’s a good fast course. If you drink and like to hassle riders, it’s good for that. If you just want to get out to Kaiserslautern and surrounding area, its excellent for that. Schlaflos im Sattel is a fun time no matter who you are.
PS : I have been told that there will be some places on hold for visitors and a lottery will be held for said spots. Did I mention they also raise a ton of money for charity? This year I think we cracked the 10k mark. From entrance fees, donations, raffles… you name it. this is a great race for some great cause. (I think this time it was for Haiti, but I could be wrong…) Get your International race on, boys and girls.by