Despite my raising questions about the old venue, we didn’t learn until late on Thursday that there had been a ‘last minute’ change in both location and course.
I had already pointed out that there now was a slurry pit at the old starting location, which made that unsuited, and on top of that, there were also some ‘other activities’ on the old course, as well as road construction works.
The ‘other activities’ probably referred to the hordes of people venturing through the polder, either by bike or by car, looking for flower beds to take pictures of…
Anyway, late or not, the organization managed to find a new location, also offering an alternative course, which is nothing short of a miracle.
It’s not uncommon that events are cancelled because of last minute mishaps like these…
So, we now had to go back and forth over the ‘Gooimeerdijk-Oost’ just outside Almere-Haven, a dike at the edge of the polder.
The track was about 6.3 kilometers out and – with a detour – some 7.7 kilometers back.
And the road was closed to other traffic – i.e. cars – so we had enough space; the normal bicycle path next to it, would not have been an option for an event like this.
Usually this dike is not any less of a challenge when it comes to wind being a factor to reckon with and it certainly didn’t disappoint in that respect.
However, the weather had changed for the better over the course of the week – last Saturday, it was just above freezing, but now, the temperature was a more healthy 25 degrees.
My (age) group was due to start from 11:50, in about 20 seconds intervals. As the riders already on the course were making their turn at the same spot, we would have to wait a little longer every now and then.
I eventually started just before noon.
The wind was coming from the east, so generally speaking ‘lateral’, but going out, it was more of a headwind.
I already knew I was not going to be any faster than last year – even if the course had changed, it was still basically the same, apart from the turning points, where speed would drop dramatically.
But as I’m still ‘missing’ some 40 – 50 Watts of power compared to last year, instead of having been able to increase my FTP in order to get closer to the magical 40 kph barrier, I tried best I could under the circumstances.
My three laps were more or less identical in time, although the first was a bit faster. The other two were about 40 seconds slower each, due to the wind being stronger after the first half lap.
While that was an advantage on the return, it didn’t make up for the loss in the first half.
I always experience that at certain speeds, the advantages of the tailwind, are more than nullified by the disadvantage of having to fight that same wind as a headwind.
That might well be a mental thing, but it is what it is…
So, my time over exactly 42 kilometers was 1:12:45, or 34.5 kph on average, which is just shy of shameful.
Last year, my average was 37.5 kph, which is still not something to boast about, compared to the speeds of the people close to or in the hot spot by the way.
But it sure as hell is fun to participate in an event like this, so I will try to do better again next year.
A quick look through the rankings shows that there were nearly 600 individual participants, plus a handful of kids.
There were also 48 teams with a total of 175 participants / finishers.
Compliments to the organizers, volunteers and photographers again – thank you and see you next year!