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JK’s Bohemian Border Bash race

25 May 2022
JK’s Bohemian Border Bash race

JK’s Bohemian Border Bash race

25 May 2022
JK’s Bohemian Border Bash race

JK’s Bohemian Border Bash race

25 May. 2022
TEXT / BBB CYCLING | PHOTOS / BBB CYCLING

The Bohemian Border Bash race is a 1300 km route, unsupported, ultra-endurance, and offroad bike competition in the Bohemia. Two of our colleagues, Tjerk Bakker and Jan Kees Pennings, who work in the product development- and marketing departments are competing.

We were super curious to find out how they are feeling, prepare themselves and what their tactics are. They tell you how to approach a long-distance race like the Bohemian Border Bash. Read the answers below.

1. Introduction

Name: Jan-Kees Pennings
Job title: Trade marketeer
Bike: Kona Sutra LTD (steel frame)

2. First of all, how is it going with the nerves?

Surely present, but generally resignation predominates. This race is tough, but I can’t imagine how tough it will be so there is not much to worry about haha. It’s nice, such a coping mechanism. At the moment I just really feel like cycling.

3. How has your preparations been?

A little different than they normally would’ve been. Five weeks before the start of the race, I fell with my bike and broke my arm and bruised my wrist. At the moment I’m racing against the clock to even start.

Training on the Tacx was an alternative plan to be able to train but I could barely hold my handlebar so that didn’t work for me.

In the race we’ll have to see if my arm will be able to handle riding. The advantage is that I’ll show up at the start super rested. Next to the physical aspect, a tactical plan is just as important when preparing for this kind of race such as your material and the mental aspect of it. Those are more than fine.

As part of the preparations for the BBBR, I’m currently reading a book about the history and events in the area to broaden my historical awareness. During foreign trips you usually have no idea what you are cycling through. Apart from the information being interesting in itself, I also think this extra knowledge will help me during the race.  

4. You are not a newbie when it comes to ultra-endurance races, which ones have you done in the past?

Not a newbie but definitely not super experienced either. I’ve only done two ultra-endurance races. Last year I did the Race Around the Netherlands, a 1900 km route that follows the borders of the Netherlands. That edition counts for two as it was super hard because of the weather conditions. Next to that I’ve done the ‘Grenspalen Klassieker Extreem’, an amazing puzzle of 425 km following the Netherlands and Belgian border.

Not an ultra, but a lot of kilometers… in 2020 I ticked off all 355 municipalities in the Netherlands and rode the MTB route NL North to South. Combining all the challenges in the Netherlands I dare to say that I know the Netherlands well by now. In December I cycled the ‘Elfstedentocht’ solo but then from my home in Heemstede as start location.

In addition to the domestic trips, the past 10 years we’ve been going abroad with a group of friends for cycling, always finishing in a beautiful European city. Such as from Cork to Dublin, or from Nice to Barcelona going over the Mont Ventoux and the Pyrenees. Last year we went from Toulouse to Lyon over the Cevennes.

After the Bohemian Border Bash follows a 3-week offroad ultra in the most remote part of Iceland, the Westfjords Way Challenge (1000 km). In September I’ll go back to Iceland for a trip traversing through Iceland. That’s a trip where I’ll be a guide myself.

5. What did you learn about yourself and the best way to go about such a race?

To start with the second bit, there must be a perfect way, but the conditions are never ideal to find the best way. We are not pros.

Kids, busy at work, or like now, a broken arm. It’s all part of it. And about the preparations, there is so much to say about it and it really depends on your goal. Mine is simply to finish, and preferably not last. A tactic is to look at reasons why you would not be able to finish and work on those. Injuries (have a bikefit, core training and go to the physio), cold or rain (take the right clothing with you), mechanicals (tools) etc. Furthermore, I find it important that everything is taken care of at home and at work, when I start and when I finish. Having that peace of mind is needed to enjoy and focus on the race.

The best tip I ever received and what I still think about when I see the number of kilometers and vertical meters, is that you don’t have to do anything else that ride. You don’t have to take care of the kids, no housekeeping tasks, no meetings or social activities. Just ride…. and eat.

Last but not least, and very important during an ultra-race, understanding that every dip or situation will always sort itself out.

6. What personal strength can you rely on during a race like the Bohemian Border Bash Race?

I think that mentally, I’m pretty tough. One way or another, I’m able to enjoy every situation and see the fun in it. Eventually, we are just a bunch of adults that are playing outside.

7. What products are you taking with you?

A whole list that I’ve carefully curated and categorized in Excel. Food, caring products, clothing for all weather conditions, sleeping system, tools, spare parts, electronics, and communication.

I’m taking waterproof bags, clothing, helmet, glasses, lights multitool etc from BBB Cycling.

8. And last but not least, what’s your goal for this race?

If you follow a plan of 7 days every day, you need to ride 185 km every day with 3200 of vertical meters (twice the Mont Ventoux), where 70% is offroad with hike-a-biking steep parts and 10kg of luggage. I expect that looking at the conditions, the toughness of the race, and lack of pure cycling talent, I really need to try my hardest to try to reach the time limit of 8 days. My goal is to finish and if that is a possibility, I hope for a nice fight with other participants in the back.