Sunday was the opening race of the season for many riders in The Netherlands. As part of the Bergrace series, we have the choice of three distances/times in 5 different locations during the season, the first of which is in Wageningen on an estate of the Dutch Royal family.
The course varies depending on the distance, and the 150min course is quite flat with a couple of short climbs and one false flat longer climb. When I say there was climbing, I mean it wasn’t flat and it wasn’t down hill. The course is so flat that it doesn’t really suit me or a singlespeed. It’s a good warm up for the season and to test the legs, with some furious pace across hard-packed sand. I can’t remember another time that I’ve averaged almost 25kph offroad.
As is the social norm amongst singlespeed riders, we like to talk and be together. As a result, I always start with my hombres at the back of the field of 260 odd racers. This is all well and good, but when you have a small gear (34×19), it’s difficult to overtake on the flat, impossible on the downhill, and only possible on a couple of uphill jaunts. My favourite overtaking place was on the uphill feed zone and I got plenty of support from the crowd for my antics.
I was aware that Jelle had moved quickly through the field and might be in a fast group, and after spotting him at a section where you can see the racers 30 seconds “up the road”, I knew I was getting close. That was after about 60 minutes of racing and I was sure we’d be riding together soon. Reality check! I spent the next hour passing people, searching for someone to help me move up the field, but alas, I was on the wrong end of the concertina effect, common in amateur and possibly all racing.
After 2 hours of hard riding, I lapped a fellow SSer and was surprised to hear that Jelle was nearby. Within a couple of minutes I had caught and was promptly waved through by Jelle. He was being plagued by the cramp monster, something I’m all too familiar with, having ruined my race last year. Time was running out, and having not been lapped yet by the leaders, I mentally prepared for another lap. Error. I heard the calls through the forest, and was promptly overtaken, race over. I was looking forward to one final lap to relax the legs.
The post race chat was enjoyable as always, discussing future plans for bikes and rides. Conclusion is that I am going to use a Rohloff for the GDR, and maybe build it into an Edge hoop. The sun was out and we enjoyed cheering on our posse in the 75 minute race.
After a top up on fluids and food, it was time to head for home. The plan was to ride back to Amsterdam, and I managed to fight the temptation to take the train. 100km over the Dutch countryside, parts nice, others smelly, back in time for a good Indian curry. Life is good. All up it was a very good day; the first on the MTB since SiS last year. I’m feeling pretty comfortable aboard my warhorse, having covered 170km during the day. I’m feeling confident about this season.