Summary – Lessons Learned

What follows is a summary of my daily distances. These are the ones that counted for the race. I didn’t include May 9th. I got up that morning, found the closest train station, took the train to Ultretch and then a bus to Amerongen to return the tracker and thank the race organizers for the good job they did putting on this event. My failure to make the finish was on me and I will return in 2020 to finish what I started.

Many of my friends have graciously commented on how my distance is a huge achievement. I thank them for their positive comments and riding 1,425 kilometers in 8 days is huge. My dilemma is that I know in my heart the mistakes I made early in the race which prevented me from finishing the the timeline.

New Friend from Hong Kong

I had an interesting conversation with Simon Tang when he caught up to me on May 8th. We rode together and chatted for about 30 km. He is a good cyclist and wasn’t at all concerned about making the finish within the timeline. He was enjoying the ride, taking pictures, staying in hotels, meeting people, on one stop went to a party until the wee hours, and planned to complete the race when he was done. He encouraged me to chill out and enjoy the ride. I applaud his perspective even though I don’t share it. I started the race to prove to myself I could finish before the deadline. This is my 2nd ultra-distance event and my goal was to go longer and harder. In 2018 at the Round Denmark Bike Race, I averaged 156 km per day. This year in RATN2019, I averaged 178 km. That is a good improvement. However, it needed to be around 210 km to finish so clearly I have room for improvement. By the way, my furthest day was 218 km and my shortest 142 km. Those are good numbers for me and I know the engine inside is capable of better. In an event like this with a timeline, there is no room to make up for shorter days.

That is the number one lesson for me from RATN2019 … I knew I needed to average around 210 km per day but on multiple occasions stopped before reaching that marker with the expectation of making it up later in the race. That was a mistake. It is better to equal or exceed the required average to build a buffer for use later in the race. We are all stronger at the beginning.

Here is my day-to-day summary Wednesday, May 1st to Wednesday, May 8th.

Date:From:Start:To:End:Distance:
May 1, 2019Amerongen0Lievelde210210 km
May 2, 2019Lievelde210Campground 
de Kleine Wolf
352142 km
May 3, 2019Campground
de Kleine Wolf
352Appingedam539186 km
May 4, 2019Appingedam 539Harlingen682143 km
May 5, 2019Harlingen 682Hoorn900218 km
May 6, 2019Hoorn900Zandvoort 1,080180 km
May 7, 2019Zandvoort1,080Ouddorp 1,255175 km
May 8, 2019Ouddorp1,255 Langeschouw 1,425170 km

What a wonderful experience I had in the Netherlands. I started this race with high hopes, made a couple of mistakes, and fell short of the finish by 475 km. I can only title my experience as Unfinished Business. I am still proud that I complete 1,425 km in eight days. I will return to the 2020 race.

With that said, my personal experience in the Netherlands was remarkable. Here are some stand-out observations.

  • The commitment to active living and physical fitness spans all the ages.
  • Cycling as a core mode of transportation starts with children from an early age. I found a statistic which suggests there are 1.6 bikes for every one of the 17 million people in the Netherlands.
  • I did not see a single obese child and only a handful of overweight adults. I did not see a single morbidly obese person.
  • It was normal to see seniors cycling as a mode of transportation to carry out every day tasks such as getting groceries.
  • This is a society of beautiful women and men who I believe view active living as a norm.
  • Surprisingly, many of the fit women and men smoke. It was not uncommon to see older men on bicycles with a cigarette going.
  • Cycling in the big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht was organized chaos. Cycle lanes were everywhere throughout the country and on roads without dedicated cycle lanes in rural regions, the shoulders were clearly marked on both sides for cyclists to the point that the road was on a single lane. In these cases, vehicles always gave cyclists the right-of-way.
  • The dykes are massive engineering projects on a scale I’ve never seen. As I rode across the top of the Netherlands, I was in awe that humans could manipulate the land and build such a huge defense against the seas.