Day 1 – From Amerongen to Lievelde

May 1, 2019 Amerongen 0.0 kmsLievelde210 kms 210 kms

Awake at 0500 – race briefing at 0730 – race start at 0800 – Excited!

The race launched right on time with all riders heading out of town. It was a little chaotic but the field spread out pretty quickly. Personally I stayed in the back of the pack to avoid the congestion.

As advised by the organizers, there was traffic on the road so it was in the interest of all to avoid any side-by-side riding. As far as I could see, people pretty much adhered to this advice.

Starting this event, my biggest concern was my lack of saddle time prior to the event. The weather in Nova Scotia simply wasn’t the best leading up to the race. The shoulders of the roads were snow-filled late into the month.

My legs felt good, my wind felt good, my heart rate was stable, and I was nicely settled into the ride. I had lubed well and my concerns about my lack of saddle time were unfounded. I was in good shape for this race.

I was clearly out of practice using the Garwin eTrex 20x but it all came back. Fortunately the start of the race was straight forward with few surprises. It gave me a chance to sharpen my use of the device. There were a number of minor details I needed to work on but it seemed sensible to go with the flow for a while.

As I passed through Hosterwold, I snapped a picture of the bike trail. This was typical of trails throughout the Netherlands. This country is really dedicated to riding bicycles safely from virtually anywhere in the country. There was nothing special about this trail. It was absolutely typical … bicycles only (and scooters which I found alarming).

From around 42 km to 80 km the route followed a canal around the Wolderwijd which is a man-made lake. Along one stretch called the Zeewolderdijk, there were hundreds of nesting geese and many hatch-lings. The parent geese were extremely protective an on a couple of occasions aggressively presented their wings as a threat and hissed as I passed. It gave me good cause to pick up the pace. The hissing sounded like a snake. I was caught off-guard and somewhat nervous.

At the 80 km mark, I stopped in Elburg to have a bite of lunch. I had picked up some items earlier in the day and I had plenty to eat. I was struck by the beautiful boats in the marina across from where I stopped.

I was cold and decided to change my merino base layer, wicking tee shirt and top layer. I was soaked from sweat and it was quite cold. The change allowed me to warm up as I headed back onto the course. I had a couple of changes so it was okay to make one now and pack the wet items into the seat bag.

We have been led to believe that the Netherlands is a flat country. Whoever said that has not been to National Park Veluwezoom. I got close to pushing up a few of ascents and was passed by some pretty fit riders and teams of riders who clearly used this terrain as a training ground. The image at the right doesn’t really give a sense of the altitude but it was the top of the forest. I stopped at this point and was passed by a few other folks in the race while I was having a bite to eat for supper. As all cyclists know, at the end of most ascents, there is a descent and this was the case of Veluwezoom. In fact, the descent was so fast I found myself braking from time to time. After-all, I don’t know the roads. Who would want to have a crash on day 1 of the race? Not me … I hold that for later … ha ha.

It is 2200 and I am at 204 km. That is late but with all the bike trails I’m feeling safe to night ride. I had a couple of cups of coffee in Zelham and feel charged up. I must compliment the Dutch; every cup of coffee I had in the Netherlands was outstanding.

I’m in farm country and most of the way is fenced. Eventually I arrive at an intersection which has a nice area I can use as a campsite and be hidden well from the road.

Given this is my first night, it takes a while to get the tent up and my sleeping kit organized. That will improve with practice. To my delight I am quite comfortable in the sleeping bag and fall asleep quickly. As is the case with most people my age, there is no sleeping through the night; nature calls. When I woke up to take care of nature, I found myself cold so I added another layer. That warmed me up nicely and I was back to sleep quickly.

It was an epic start to the race and my confidence was high.