The innovative and ergonomic padding in our gloves
The innovative and ergonomic padding in our glovesReady story
I was super happy that I was able to start the race due to my arm injury as I hadn’t cycled at all in preparation for this race. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the race. It was simply too hard to finish the limit of 8 days without having trained at all. Especially the many climbs, off-road sections between 12% and 25%, and an average of 3200 meters of vertical per day. Not for the faint of heart. I wasn’t the only one. During the first 6 days, 65% of all participants DNF-ed. Kudos to all that made it to the finish.
However, I am looking back on a fantastic adventure. It’s so good to cycle a few days unsupported through forests, mountains, and unknown areas.
The first day, starting at 4.58 AM, went pretty well. The first hours are about getting used to your bike, the area, and new gear. Eventually, everything fell into place after the lunch and that’s when the race personally really started. On the first day, I rode 190 km with 3400 vertical.
The next day started at Checkpoint 1 where I stamped my brevet card, an amazing descent over fast gravel in the sun followed by a nice breakfast at the supermarket. From there on it started to get rough and the real climbing started as well as the first rainfall.
The plan was to reach Checkpoint 2 in the evening (geographically the middle of Europe), by pushing a total of 190 km per day. On paper, it seemed like a good idea but in the real world not so much. To reach Checkpoint 2 you had to push your bike for 1,5 hours up a mountain. During this hike-a-bike, there was suddenly a wolf in my way about 50 meters in front of me. We had a stare-down of about 20 seconds and then the amazing beast walked on. He probably thought “I’ll leave that poor man with his bike, no honor is to be gained here”.
The descent was slow, riding over paths with huge tree roots, muddy forest tracks, and some steep climbs. When it started to pour down, I decided to lay down in my bivy underneath a tree. I definitely had better nights, it was very cold (1 to 2 degrees Celsius). The next day at 6 AM I left in search of coffee and a sandwich. Around 10 AM I came across a gas station near the border. But there was one more obstacle.. A big creek needed to be crossed. Luckily about 20 meters further I found a beaver dam that I could use. So much fun ;). But finally, coffee!
On day 3 it became clear that I wouldn’t make the finish limit of 8 days. A lot of climbing was ahead of me where I had to walk... But walking was hard since my foot was bruised and I had a swollen ankle (something sprung out of nowhere in my foot while biking). That day, 58 km took me 10 hours. So I chose to cycle to Checkpoint 4, 630 km in because it was so beautiful. Eventually on day 6, in a fairytale city called Cesky Krumlov, I took the train back to the start so I was able to travel back to The Netherlands with my colleague Tjerk.
Onto the next adventure! The Westfjords Way Challenge in Iceland on the 28th of June!