One of Hanna Lutz's 'craziest' adventures was her journey from Geneva to Nice on a fixed-gear bike. Not so much because of the distance of 'only' 500 km, but because along the way she had to overcome no less than 15 Alpine passes, totalling more than 10,000 metres in altitude difference.
On this adventure, however, Hanna Lutz was not alone, but in the company of 9 other crazy two-wheelers and locked sprocket lovers, all from Stuttgart.
An exciting tale for those who love hard work and great landscapes.
' Wordlessly, I stop beside Marc on the summit of the Col du Galibier. We look down the valley and follow the winding road with our eyes. It runs gently against the side of the mountains. Below us, our friends glide along hairpin bends that look like watercolour drawings. Like little ants in red, blue and black tunic, they advance on the asphalt. The road is sprinkled with white paint, almost indelible signs of the legendary stages of the Tour de France. It is like pedalling over your favourite tattoo, you read history in those brushstrokes, you are reminded of the attacks, the challenges, the emotions that only cycling can give you.
Practically no other col on the Tour takes cyclists higher than 2642 metres. During the many sleepless nights leading up to the start of this trip, we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Can we really manage to climb the most famous climbs of the Tour de France with a fixie?"
None of us was really sure we would make it to the Mediterranean Sea because we saw so many difficulties and unforeseen events ahead of us. But we had a secret weapon: the strength of friendship and teamwork. We were 10 cyclists from 2 different clubs, but united by a common passion and heritage. We met at Rad Race Events and the streets of Stuttgart kept us together, sometimes in the truest sense of the word (those who do fixed-gear races can understand).
The 'Stuttgarter Velohelden' is more like a group of old friends who have known each other all their lives than a team. On the other hand, the Heaven and Hell Cycling Club is exactly like its name, a melting pot of candid and restless souls. An unpredictable mix of borderline characters is its greatest strength and at the same time its greatest weakness.
We were inspired by other fixie teams and, intrigued by the famous Alpine passes, we planned this challenge: starting from Geneva and arriving at the Mediterranean via the Col de la Madeleine, the Col du Telegraphe, the Col du Galibier, the Col des Champs and the Col d'Allo. Practically half of the climbs that a cyclist dreams of climbing at least once in his or her life, we did it in five days, for a total of 10,000 metres of altitude gain over 500 km.
As our comrades from Velohelden and the HHCC passed the highest point of the climb they all smiled, each with a different smile and a dream in their heads. I was smiling too, as I set off downhill. It was the smile of those who knew they had made it because we were on the highest point. What could stop us now? The day before, it was the Col de la Madeleine that had made us tremble. Torrid heat and an average gradient of 9% pushed us to the limit. However, the conditions on the Galibier were ideal for 29 kilometres of climbing. 29!
Goose bumps, that's how my body reacted. I'm not sure if it was the cool wind or the view of the hairpin bends below. More likely it was the long descent ahead that will be just as exhausting as the climb, because in a fixie you have no brakes, the only way to slow down is to resist on the pedals, continuously.
Two days later we arrived literally exhausted in Nice. We went straight to the beach to celebrate what we had achieved together, as a team. Sometimes all you need is a stupid idea and ten wonderful people to join together to find happiness!"