|May 8, 2019||Ouddorp||1,255.0||Langeschouw||1,425.0||170.0 km|
Up at 0400 with a goal of being on the road by 0500 … goal accomplished.
It was my second night in a hotel. It was good to have a good sleep and a chance to ensure my riding clothes were dry. My arrival the night before was in the dark. In the Netherlands, especially in rural areas, many of the hotels do not take check-ins at this time of day. I lucked out.
It proved to be a good move to get an early start. The winds were low for a couple of hours. I was able to log a good distance and early in the ride I rode across the Brouwersdam. I was amazed with the engineering marvel. It was one of many where the Dutch have reshaped the land to ensure the safety of those behind the dykes. I can only image how much effort went into these massive construction projects.
This was a just a warm-up for the Pijledam which had massive sluice-gates. By this time, the winds had come up and I now in a battle with nature. On the plus side, the lane I was in was closed to vehicles due to road construction. I had the road all to myself with the exception of an occasional construction truck. Once again I was in awe of the scale of this engineering project and how it demonstrated that we are capable of remarkable feats.
The ride continued along the dykes for about 55 km in a westerly direction. As the hours passed, the winds picked up so my average speed declined. The winds were a crosswind so not as bad as a headwind. It was a grey and overcast day but I was warm and dry and making good progress. The 1,300 km milestone is close.
At Westkappel, the route wrapped south. Now I was riding into headwinds and they were strong. I knew I had about 20 km to ride and the route turned to an easterly direction and inland. One can expect the headwind to become a crosswind so able to pick up speed.
I run the math on the distance to this finish line. There are about 30 hours remaining and 500 km to complete. That is a huge distance for me but not impossible provided I can maintain a good average speed, fuel my body correctly, and nothing unexpected happens. So I forge on.
The sky opens and it starts to rain. I make a minor navigation error and realize I’m riding on a parallel trail at the bottom of the dyke rather than along the top. The easy fix is to carry Kermit up a flight of stairs. While doing so, I notice that my front tire is seriously deflated which may be a major problem. I ride tubeless tires. I also carry tubes as should I have a flat, odds are my best option is to pull the tire plug, install the tube, and run on the tube until I can get to a bike store. I did attempt to inflate my tire with my portable pump but it didn’t make much of difference. Clearly my only option is to find a bike store.
If you don’t know, a deflated tire slows your speed dramatically. So here I am, fighting a head wind with a deflated tire, getting slammed by rain, and worried my tire might go flat before I can reach a bike store. For about 2 hours, my anxiety was at an all-time high for the trip and I don’t think my speed exceeded 10 km/hr. This was a huge set-back on a day I wanted to make the best distance of the journey. The clock was ticking.
I found a bike store about 8 km off route and headed in that direction. All I needed was a good pump to get the front tire up to 5 Bars. I was on my way back to the course.
Eureka, once back on course the sun was out and I had a tail wind. I was cooking now and making good distance. Around the 1,370 km I found myself starting to crash. I needed to stop for a sleep. I was hallucinating and it was obvious I needed a break. I stopped at the first bus shelter and had a nap.
I only need 20-30 minutes nap to recharge. I was on course again and felt great. I had plenty to eat an it kicked in to fuel me well. The math to make the finish was worse but if I was able to ride through the night, I still had a chance. And at that moment it was about 16°C so pretty comfortable and I had a tail wind.
Just after I got rolling, Simon Tang caught up with me. We rode together for about 30 km which was at the 1,400 km marker in the race. Simon planned to find a place to stay Kortendijk for the night. I suggested we do supper together but I was going to head out. It proved more of a challenge finding a place to stay for Simon so we parted company and I headed back on course.
Just I was heading out of town, a dot watcher, Michael Hayman, caught up with me. He had chatted with many of the riders in the race. I took time to have a meal with him and learned he immigrated from Australia and owned a bike store in town. It was a good meet.
I headed out feeling great, well fueled with a full realization that my only chance to make the finish on time is to ride through the night. My resolve was positive and I felt I had a chance. I was wrong. After about 25 km I knew I needed to have a sleep. Once again I was hallucinating and falling asleep on the bike. I found a nice location to set up the tent for a quick nap.
As soon as I settled in, I knew in my heart my race was over. The cold, wind, rain, and deflated tire had taken a toll. The remaining 475 km to the finish was too far for me. It was a moment of tremendous disappointment.
Surprisingly, Wietse must have figured this out as just after I settled in, he phoned me to offer his support and congratulations for the distance I had put in to this point. I was a uplifting moment and eliminated my disappointment. Thank you brother. You are a good friend.