This series is about the successful attempt of doing the Ronde van Nederland in four days, in total of 1300 km on a bike.
I woke up early and got to the morning routine packing. Packed up all those fricking chargers, put a charged battery into the camera and one into the GPS and so on. I prepared my daily food kit, filled up the Camelbak with isotonic drinks. I thought I’d be done soon, so I did not do anything about these things I chose to relax a bit.
Turned out, it took me 1,5 hour to have breakfast and get ready to go. So I could leave almost at 7:00 AM again. Surprisingly none of my body parts were sore at all, it was no problem getting on the bike and set off. It gave me a pretty good swing that lasted for 50 kilometers. Then a longer field section came along, which you could absolutely do riding a race bike, but due to all the rain there was so much mud and puddles, and it was not good for the bicycle at all.
That was the moment that fore-mentioned swing broke a bit. In the meantime the Sun came up too and that infamous Dutch West wind got it on pretty good too and it was bearing hard on me all day long. Of course it could have been worse, but I did not like it a bit. Getting out of the woods and kept going on forestry and/or private roads. Once I had to pedal along an old cobble road which looked a lot more like one of the worst sections of Paris-Roubaix than nice cobbles you usually see in squares in cities. Well, it had its effect.
While taking a right turn I managed not to notice how uneven the road surface was in a part, only two loud thumps coming from my bike made me realize it. I freaked out for a second, no this cannot be happening, but fortunately nothing bad happened. I did not hear any hissing, I hit the break a bit to see if the wheel was knocking, but nothing. Breath out, calm down, it is all good. Then ten seconds later all I heard was ssssssssssssss… Cool…
I did puncture it, front wheel, okay no worries. Soon as I said the back wheel got flat too. When it rains it pours, I had only one extra inner tube. Honestly I was cursing like crazy, loud as hell. I was angry at myself for not being more careful. Well, what can you do. I changed the back wheel’s tube and I tried to fix the front one with that super effective self adhesive patch kit. It wasn’t easy but I could do it. I continued my trip. The front tube could take about 30 more kilometers, then the patch came off.
No problem, I got it off and put it back on, at that moment I kept an eye out for bike shops on the way. I did the same on the first tire like two more times. It brought back all those faded memories from times when we used to fix these kind of problems using shoe laces when we did not have extra inner tubes or pumps or when we used to stuff the external tire with cut grass.
I was wearing Velcro shoes and I didn’t think that grass stuffing solution seemed sophisticated enough so I kept playing around with that patch and folded double the problematic part on the inner tube. And it could keep up, then when I reached the next town Tubberg, I went to a bicycle shop and bought a new one. I bought two right away, then the salesman told me they had a special offer there, buy 2 get 3, I was like, oh okay, this deal was meant for me, hit me with 3 then!
Just to play it safe I bought a self adhesive patch kit too. I thought I wouldn’t take that patched and folded up tube out, having enough back up in my backpack it would keep up for long, as playing a mean game on me, well it didn’t. No worries, then I changed it with the routine motions and kept going.
This big bunch of technical difficulties caused a bit of a delay in my planned schedule. At around 2 PM I arrived to another field section of my trip, it was a huge evasive in a protected natural area. Around that time I completely fell apart mentally, thanks to the strong wind which kept blowing on me from the front and the left side too all day. Those who know me know that well that I have never been good at going in the plain especially with wind shear, being 65 kilos with legs the size of brake cables, no wonder.
That’s it, I was thinking to myself, I manned up and I bought a half a liter of Coca Cola and three pieces of pastry, sat down to figure out what to do next. Eventually I skipped the detour and the field section, I picked an alternative route, which was 10 kilometers less but at least it was made out of asphalt. Near the town of Emmen I was starting to feel the effect of the Cola I had, it brought some energy back, my spirit got lifted. I was over the first low. From there on I could kind of see the end of the day and I started to think maybe it was not a “Mission Impossible” afterall.
I cannot really remember how I was feeling exactly between Emmen and Groningen, my brain functions were doing the bare minimum and I just kept going at a minimal but acceptable speed. In Groningen I went into a little shop where I bought my dinner, knowing I would miss dinner at my accommodation, knowing I would get there pretty late. From there I had about 40 more kilometers to go. There was no excitement at all, maybe only the wind switching from front to side and not being blocked by any vegetation nearby was the only “entertaining” thing.
As I was pedaling in the sunset, seeing the North Sea motivated me more and more. I didn’t happen, but at least I got to see the sunset at the confluence of river Reitdiep, it was breath-taking. Thanks to all the rush for the last kilometers my body was starting to send different impulses to my brain, I was feeling some kind of pain in my left knee and in my left hand too, my fingers were numb.
I didn’t care about it, I thought it was all caused by fatigue and those 600 kilometers I had pedaled for by then. I arrived to the accommodation after 9 PM, by the time I’d had dinner, a bath and got ready for the next morning it was already 10:30 PM. Day 2 took a lot out of me and according to my experiences Day 3 is the toughest before your system gets used to the constant physical exertion. I went to sleep with a head of worrying thoughts hoping that the next day that rare North wind would come as forecasted.
A miserable waking then waggling lazily on the bike I could have used a jump-start for sure on Day 3. To be continued, til then you can read the prequel posts!