This past weekend, the official Tour de Suisse came to its end, with two stages – 7 & 9 – that were in the area I’ll be cycling my own TDS in August.
I traveled to the south of my country, to test myself a bit on a hilly course.
Obviously, the area is no match for the Alps, but it’s good enough to do ‘hill repeats’, which is next to impossible in my backyard.
The wind is often referred to as ‘the Dutch Mountains’ and a headwind sure feels like climbing a mountain every now and then, but still.
From Friday to Sunday, I cycled some 270 kilometers, with around 3,700 meters of elevation difference.
I was a bit weary beforehand about whether or not I’d be able to get up the steeper climbs, but I think I did surprisingly well, considering where I come from…
On Friday, I got on the bike at one of my favorite LBS’s in the area, Jean Habets, after I bought some kit there.
This place is very near the Keutenberg, which I often avoid, but wanted to include in my trip today.
After a warm up, I got up the Keutenberg, went down the other end and turned around for the climb from that end, aptly named Dodeman (Dead Man).
As I experienced a problem with my shifters, I went back to Jean, had it fixed and climbed the Keutenberg again.
By that I time I was feeling more confident that I had not lost whatever poor climbing capabilities I had before my back injuries…
I continued my trip towards our hotel for the weekend, including as many climbs as I could – in the end, I had cycled 85 kilometers, with a total of just over 1,400 meters of elevation difference.
I had booked a spot for a ~90 kilometer ‘social ride’ with Team Sunweb on Saturday, which would start and end in Sittard.
No Tom Dumoulin, obviously, but we were joined by U23 riders and Max Kanter, who’s also recovering from a knee injury.
After that ride, I continued riding, looking to do some more climbing. After a lunch break, I cycled to another favorite LBS in the area, Jos Feron, where I scored some more cycling kit.
As it was already getting late by the time I got out of that shop, I didn’t have a lot of time left, but in total I cycled 142.5 kilometers, with again just over 1,400 meters of elevation difference.
Less than half of that was during the Sunweb ride, so the ~50 kilometers after that, were about equal to Friday’s ride, elevation wise.
I also didn’t have a lot of time on Sunday, as we would have to travel back home.
Besides, despite the local ‘Schutterij‘ blowing the reveille well before 6 am, waking up probably everyone in the hotel, breakfast wasn’t being served before 8, as most hotels in this area are observing Sunday’s rest…
As Vijlen is close to the highest point of continental Netherlands – a dazzling 322 meters – I included both ends of the climb up there twice.
Vijlen is also close to the longest climb, the Camerig, which I had included twice on Friday already, so I climbed that from the other end today.
Total for this trip: almost 45 kilometers, with over 900 meters of elevation. Which, at a D+ average of 40 meters / climbing kilometer, was relatively the ‘toughest’ ride of the three 🙂
I will try and squeeze a couple more sessions in the area into my Tour de Suisse training schedule, but as it is not ‘around the corner’, that will be limited to two or three more days.
The fact that I will have to suffer the effects of ‘Oak processionary‘, which has left me sleepless for the past couple of nights, trying not to scratch myself to death, doesn’t help either…