The longest ultra-race in the world! The Trans-Siberian Extreme covers 9,400 km, with a total of 79,000 metres of climbing, and passes through five climate zones. The starting gun will be fired on 5 July. From Moscow to Vladivostok in 14 stages. And FOCUS Bikes will be there. We interviewed our two long-distance heroes Matthias Fischer (a 25-year-old engineering technician) and Martin Temmen (a postgraduate at Dortmund Technical University, aged 31).
Why are you doing this?
WE ENJOY CYCLING!
Matthias: I compete in amateur cycle races. Long-distance riding has always been my thing, and sometimes I was even rather sad that it clashed with training for the amateur races. I was looking for a new challenge, so Martin's suggestion that we should have a go at the Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme 2016 came at just the right moment. 9,400 km at race pace? Fantastic! The adventure of it really appeals to me. I also think that it's the right sort of race for me (with my huge cardiac capacity).
Martin: I like cycle racing, I like Russia, and cooking isn't my favourite pastime. So the whole thing sounds perfect: 24 days of cycling through Russia and a support crew to look after everything, including meals!
Why this particular race?
Martin: For one thing, it's the sporting challenge. Last year I took part in the Paris-Brest-Paris, and I'd no sooner finished that race than I was looking for a new challenge. I came home and was on a total high. I said to myself, I definitely want to do something like that again. Two days later I happened to see a presentation by Thomas John and Johannes Rosenberger, who had just taken part in the first-ever Trans-Siberian Extreme, just a month before. I liked what I heard. Then a few days later, again by pure chance, I met Alina, who had accompanied those two cyclists as their physiotherapist. She told me all about the race, and that made it all seem real. Matthias was the only person I wanted to do the race with anyway, and when he was just as keen on the idea as me, we started organising the whole thing. Incidentally, Alina is going to be there again this year, but this time she'll be looking after us. So we'll be able to benefit from the experience she gained last year.
The other thing is that Russia is incredibly exciting. I've been there twice, and it's an amazingly diverse country with lots of different cultures and helpful, hospitable people. The first time I went, I was cycling. I only visited the extreme north-west of Russia, as far as St. Petersburg. The second time, I travelled on the Trans-Siberian Railway with my girlfriend at the time. It was winter, and she contracted pneumonia, which isn't much fun when temperatures are down to -30°C. We had to break off the journey at Lake Baikal, so I still have to do the section from Ulan-Ude to Vladivostok.
Have you ever done anything like this before?
No, never a long race like this with our own support crew. In fact, that's another attraction for us – putting together a team on whom we can rely totally throughout the race. Apart from which, we have spent a lot of time cycling together. We've competed in various cycle races as a team, and occasionally we've also done some long-distance rides together (up to approx. 500 km non-stop).
The first cycling events we did together were MTB marathons. Then, in 2011, we tackled the Tour Trans Alp. During that race it became clear that we harmonised well as a team.
Each year, we celebrate the longest day of the year by doing a long cycle tour with friends. The most memorable was Hanau – Prague in just under a day.
How do you prepare for a race?
We simply do a lot of cycling. Training in the gym to build core strength is also very important. Wherever we go, for example the journey to work every day, we always cycle. And now that the days are at last getting longer, we can also do some very long distances. Before the race, we'll spend a lot of time in the saddle, of course. Together with FOCUS we are currently organising a 600 km trip from the Derby Cycle plant in Cloppenburg to the office in Stuttgart. We'll be starting on Friday 13 May in Cloppenburg and will ride non-stop to Stuttgart.