Last Saturday, April 16th, I participated in the individual time trial event “Tijdrit Almere 2022”.
It’s organized by Start2Finish, Tri2One being the main sponsor.
As the name implies, it’s in my hometown and the long distance is 42 kms, or three laps of 14 kms each.
Until 2019, this event took place in my backyard, the wide open polder outside the city.
I participated only once in that, before it changed the location to the outskirts of Almere-Haven – the oldest neighbourhood of Almere – for the 2019 edition last minute.
The new course is following the dyke along the “Gooimeer” lake, so also on that one, there’s no hiding from the wind…
I didn’t realize it had been only some 7 months since the last event, as it was cancelled in 2020 the “Tijdrit Almere 2021” was last October.
As I only participate for fun – there’s no chance in hell I will ever make it to the podium – I strive to beat my best time each edition.
That was not much of a challenge in 2021, as I was still recovering from serious physical trouble the winter before the 2019 edition.
Even so, I was a bit disappointed then, as I was hoping for a 1:05-ish time, but the wind spoiled that and I finished in 1:08.
So, this year I was aiming for 1:05 again or at least a faster time than back in October.
I will never know if I would have been able to do so, but the annoying head wind on the way out was already spoiling half of that chance.
Then again, the tail wind was helpful on most of the way back, although I know from experience that it never negates the disadvantage of a head wind.
But contrary to the previous editions, there was no clear “switch point” to get from the bike lane to the main road.
This used to be some 500-600 meters in, but this time that was lacking and I – like most others1 – was following the bicycle path until I ran into a parked car.
The volunteer that put it there, told me to get onto the main road – through the grass – so I did, but I was like “What the hell?!”…
Little did I know that this confusion would lead to more trouble in the next lap.
In the bottom right of the picture above, you can see the switch point during lap one and three, but the switch point in the top left effectively killed my ambitions or what was left of them anyway.
At that spot, in lap two, there was a volunteer gesturing to switch to the main road, so as I slowed down and started to move to the left, another rider tried to squeeze his way through, clipping me and causing me to tumble and crash.
While swearing at me that I was a stupid fuck that didn’t watch were I was going, he slit through and managed to stay upright.
Despite the already lower speed, I crashed so hard, that I first remained laying down to make sure I wouldn’t faint and then needed some time to find my bearings, feeling an all too familiar pain between my ribs.
As I have had a punctured lung before – I didn’t know that until they checked me in the hospital – I was a little weary to get on my bike again, but for less serious injuries like road rash and such, it’s better to continue moving / pedalling.
I was not feeling dizzy or nauseous – as I was when I did puncture a lung – so I got back on but a) there was no point in pushing as my target time was now well out of reach and b) I couldn’t breath deeply anymore or get out of the saddle, so any serious effort was out of the question anyway.
I did notice that the car further on was now parked elsewhere and most riders took that passage to switch, so I did the same in lap three.
I finished in an official time of 1:10:41 and a moving time slower than in October, although only – all things considered – by just over a minute.
Garmin recording here – my lap times were 22:36, 24:41 and 23:24 respectively.
Which means I would have been faster than in October, given that a “flat” schedule, maybe even a negative split, is what I’m capable of.
The desired 1:05 would have been hard to achieve but not impossible.
At the moment, I’m not sure I will try again – that depends on whether or not I can find feedback on critique posted by others on the social channels and what the organization will do with it.
I’m not on those channels, but Paula is.
For instance, there was pothole without a warning sign that caused (at least) one rider to crash and be taken into an ambulance with – what looked like – a serious head wound.
And another pothole further on did have a clear warning sign in front of it.
The road is, like most outside of the city and many bicycle paths inside it as well, in a bad condition but potholes should have a warning sign, especially in a race.
All in all this edition of the event would get an unfavorable rating from me if I were on social media.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s no – official – concern raised by anyone and / or if Start2Finish would do something with it.
So far, I’ve not seen anything, only lauding reports on the “main event”, the Dutch Duathlon (run-bike-run) Championship.
Apart for those actually having a shot at the win, the “Tijdrit Almere 2022” event was mainly a side dish…
1 As I started in the 2nd batch, there we only some 25 ladies and a few guys that departed before me…