First drama before we got there is that the wife booked the Hotel months ago. I assured her it started in Masstricht and just to get us near the centre. Of course the Pro's might start there but us mere rider's have to start in Valkenburg. After the last race where the Family had to get up at 5:30am it was decided the best way was for me to get a Taxi to the start.
5:30am wake up start and meet the Taxi at 6am. I meet another rider, Frank in the foyer who was catching the train to Valkenburg and convinced him to come with me. Much easier. We got to Valkenburg and set off at 6:36am. Frank to do the 200Km and me the 250KM. the first 10-15km were fairly relaxed before Frank realised he'd left his water bottles in the Taxi. Not the best of starts for him. I lost him on the first or 2nd "Burg" and didn't see him again.
|Big chainringing it up over the top of a hill|
So passing Valkenburg I hit the stream of riders just starting their event. It was to be the theme of the day. Each "Burg" it seemed I passed a few hundred and then a few more on the way down. The riders were fairly well behaved and did stay left on the Bergs which is nice for faster riders. It seemed to be a random collection of riders and not really any groups working together anywhere. I must have been with one group for max maybe 20-30 Km before that disintegrated. A few close misses with cyclists coming the other way was not pleasant. We passed both the Saxo bank Team and Nissan Trek teams somewhere here as well.
|The fast lane|
I don't really recall much about the "Bergs". I enjoyed both the "Camerig" and "Drielandenpunt" Climbs the most. Not to steep and very flowing climbs that suit me. I still don't understand your average rider that either steamrolls into the bottom in the biggest gear he has and starts sprinting before running out of puff selecting the smallest gear after 50-100 metres. The other option is before the bottom find the smallest gear you have and hit it at a very low speed. I prefer to get into the small chain ring keep the pace the same and change gears fractionally to suit. It works much better than putting in to much effort and not able to continue, or giving up before you have even started climbing.
|The steep bit and about to hit the manhole cover|
We hit very wet roads about 40km from the finish but missed most of the rain. It got very cold and I was told later it had hailed for about 20 mins in Valkenburg. The run into Valkenburg was not very nice and the Cauberg was just a joke. To many people to climb properly and once you hit the top they dropped us into a big tent complex. Had to walk about 1km through this to get back onto the road before doing a loop to join riders who had yet to finish. Not the best idea and it was so cold!!! Where can I send my invoice for new cleats?
So I finished the ride in 8 hours and 5 mins. Averaged right on 30km/h and fairly happy with this. Difficult with all the riders and hills I think to go much faster especially with no one to work with for a lot of the course. I don't think I'll do this event again as there was just to many people. The route is nice but I actually think the region is nice so It wouldn't really matter where you rode in Limberg.
|Yes it's steep but still time for a smile.|
Late Update - Watched the pros do the last 70km and very pleasing to see some struggling just like the rest of us. I guess I thought they are superhuman and use big gears everywhere but seeing them use there small chain ring and large sprockets on the back show they are just like the rest of us. Human after all.