Mieke loaded down and flying through the streets. // Photo: © Markus Greber

18-04-2016, CANYON CANYON//SRAM Racing

Mieke Kröger’s Taste for Adventure

Endless training followed by hot showers, carbo loading and media appointments. This is what typically makes up the daily routine of a professional cyclist, but not always.  Mieke Kröger of CANYON//SRAM Racing likes to do things a little bit different. Starting in Leipzig and armed with no more than her bike and backpack, Mieke rode east to Prague, then west to Nuremberg and finally finished in Munich. We caught up with her along the way in Prague to find out about her unique approach to training.

Mieke, what does a standard training day look like for you?

Typically I jump out of bed and eat breakfast right away. After that, my coach calls me to talk about training for the day. Then I either hit the roads or occasionally head to the weight room. When I get back, I normally eat a banana or quickly make a smoothie and then jump in the shower. Then it’s either time to recover or run random errands.

Tell us a little about your special training trips. You’ve been known to pack up the necessities and ride off into the blue for days at a time – pretty unique in the world of pro cycling. What made you think to do this?

Two years ago I didn’t have any interest in heading to Mallorca for a typical training camp and I also felt a strong urge to get out and go on an adventure. I packed up my bags and headed out with way too much stuff. Almost immediately I was bonking and drenched in sweat, so I shipped a package of all the non-essentials back home!

Until now, was that the only time you did a trip like that?

No, last year I started just riding towards France. I wanted to go all the way to Mont Ventoux, but I was pretty careless and ended up getting sick and had to stop.

What inspires you to risk missing out on normal well-planned training to go ride alone and do something different?

It’s honestly exactly what you just said that inspires me to do something different: a break from the normal training routine. I also think the chance to really be on your own for at least a little bit is important and helps you reconnect with yourself and stay grounded. That being said, sometimes on these trips I’ll get my fill of solitude and will be really happy to meet some new people along the way. There’s also always a good bit of adventure involved. Exactly how much adventure, you can kind of predetermine by how little or how much planning you do beforehand, but it’s never full proof.

How did your trainer adapt your plan to accommodate a trip like this?

My trainer pre-approved this tour. Obviously it isn’t the most standard or professional training method, but like I said, sometimes it can be really good for me to mix things up.

How many kilometers will you end up doing in the end? Will you integrate any special training into the trip like intervals?

I think in the end, if everything goes smoothly, it will be about 1000 kilometers. As for special training, I’m always trying to do additional stabilization training as well as some squats and jumps.  Sometimes when I’m on a climb I like to integrate power focused intervals into the ride.

How do you plan the route and then navigate once you’re on the road? Is everything planned to the smallest of detail or do you just head out into the blue?

Two years ago, I only started planning three days out, which wasn’t good as I could hardly find a youth hostel with a free room. This time I’ve already planned everything and reserved my accommodations, but like what happened here in Prague there’s always the chance that the plan will change and I’ll end up sleeping somewhere else because some friendly person offers a place to stay.

What are you bringing with you and how do you pack it all? Do you have packing list?

There is a packing list! I’ll show you.

Yeah so there’s stuff like underwear that one would expect and then in the top left everything under FFO are things for Frankfurt/Oder. In the end, everything is packed in a Trailrunner backpack.

A backpack means additional weight on the saddle and on your back. Do you prepare for that?

I don’t do anything special to prepare, no. I just try to pack as light as possible. Obviously there’s the chance of a little back pain, but you’ve just got to ride through that. Changing position, getting out of the saddle, taking breaks or riding with no hands helps.

One last question: What tips to you have for someone planning on doing something like this?

I would say to never give up but always have your eyes peeled for a train station in case things really go south.

Thanks Mieke!