#TCRNo5: The Story of Cap 225 (part 2)

September, 2014. A year after I started road cycling. I just came home after riding the GO-Classic. A tour in the region where I live. I did a total of 178km that day. “Never again”, I promised myself staring at the ceiling laying on my back on the floor. August 30th, 2015. I set myself a goal: riding the Transcontinental Race in 2017. A few weeks later I complete my first 200km brevet. July, 2017. I am in Geraardsbergen at the start of the race I dreamed of riding for 2 years. This is “The Story of Cap 225”.

If you haven’t read part 1, you can find it here: The Story of Cap 225 (part 1)

I slept some hours at Check Point 2. It is just past midnight when I prepared my bicycle to continue. It is still very warm. My Wahoo ELEMNT records 28C. Next stop is Monte Grappa. A 19km climb, average gradient 8.1%. On the tracker I see two riders riding in front of me. Would be nice if I could catch up with them. The first part of the climb was going pretty good. A section with a lot of hairpins. Occasionally a car was passing by, but it was a quiet and dark climb. The valley filled with lights, breathtaking view. The second part of the climb was horrible. Steep sections and I didn’t have the right gearing on my bike. That means I had to walk. Early in the morning I reached the top of Monte Grappa. It took me about 6 hours (including some naps).

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Where to follow me during #TCRno5?

Where to follow me during #TCRno5? On Friday, July 28th 2017, the Transcontinental Race no.5 will start in Geraardsbergen, Belgium. At 10:00pm CET all riders will climb “De Muur” and make their way across Europe to Meteora, Greece.

If you want to follow me on my adventure, please keep in mind that there are some rules:

The Transcontinental Race is an unsupported event. Which means that the racers, like me, cannot get help other than what they find along the way. So if I post something on social media like “I have to find a place to sleep, I am tired!“, do not reply mentioning hotels with available rooms in the neighborhood. That will get me disqualified. An appropriate answer could be “You tired? Keep on cycling baby!

If I would cross your neighborhood, it is ok to ride along with me, but do not ride in front of me. Drafting isn’t allowed. Giving me food and water bottles isn’t allowed too. Just some small talk is enough and enjoyable. However I probably would stare at you and wonder from which planet you came before you landed on Earth.

There is a rumor in town, that I will hug you for beer. I love weissbeer!

Below you will find all ways to follow me:

My website (You are here!)
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Trackleaders or Free Route (GPS location)
Meet me at one of the check points

Official Transcontinental Race accounts:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Instagram

And last but not least:

If you want to sent me personal messages, love letters or just want to say how much you hate me because I left you home, while I am gone to explore the world on my bike, use WhatsApp, iMessage, Signal or Facebook Messenger. I will always answer it, but sometimes it can take a while. I am pretty busy doing badass stuff!

Towards #TCRno5: cycling along the river Meuse

It is dark in the night. I am cycling along the river Meuse. Behind me there has been a bright light for some minutes. I am tired, but keep on cycling. Is it a car following me slowly? I can’t think very clearly anymore. Then something unexpected happens.

I wake up early in the morning. I had set my goal for this weekend. Ride at least 300km with full kit on my bike. Created a route earlier which would take me from Maastricht, near the Belgium border, back home. Following the river Meuse. After a shower, breakfast and some coffee, I leave home. I travel by train to Maastricht. The sky is blue. It will be a beautiful day to go cycling.

When I arrive in Maastricht, I first get me a cup Latte at the railway station. A few minutes later I jump on my bike. I ride 2km to the Meuse, where I take a picture and post it on my Facebook page. Next I tried to load my route on my Wahoo ELEMNT. Oops, I forgot to sync it at home. No problem, route is in the iPhone companion app. Unfortunately it didn’t sync to my ELEMNT. Now what? On my ELEMNT there is a draft route I once created. I decide not to use it and use the bike path signs of the national LF3 route. It appears after a while that it is not the quickest route.

A few hours later I arrive in Roermond. After having very “healthy” junkfood as lunch I get back on my bike. Change of plans. Not following the LF3 route anymore, just following major roads. This goes a lot faster. My legs are not very good, but I make the best of it. I pass Venlo and early in the evening I am near Nijmegen. Took me longer than predicted. I decide to load the draft route on my ELEMNT, which takes me to the west. Wind is mostly a tailwind, so my pace is good. Around midnight I pass north of Den Bosch.

It is dark in the night. I am cycling along the river Meuse. Behind me there has been a bright light for some minutes. I am tired, but keep on cycling. Is it a car following me slowly? I can’t think very clearly anymore. Suddenly a blonde woman on an e-bike slowly passes me. She smiles when she looks at me. “Hi there!“, she says and disappears slowly into the night in front of me. I feel like a complete idiot, but I am laughing. One moment I tell myself “pace yourself and ride along with her“, but I think that would scare her.

With about 75km to go, my pace is completely gone. I am tired, my neck hurts and I would love to have coffee. No luck. Everything is closed. No gas stations with shops opened. Earlier I was thinking about getting my sleeping bag and just sleep for an hour or so in the open air. I had stopped at an excellent place, but decided to go on, because “it was only 125km until I was home“. Those little things make those training rides worth the effort.

Eventually at 5:40am I arrived home. Two hours later then predicted. I slept a few hours. Sunday afternoon I made some decisions. I unmounted my aerobars from my bike. They are blocking access to my Apidura accessory pocket and I have a sensitive shammy, which prevents riding long distances in that position. I cut down on what I took with me last summer. Makes my bike a lot lighter.

Feeling about this ride was good. Learned some points that need improvement.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/974338627

Post-Ride Blues, what helped me out

The Post-Ride blues was suddenly there. It took me two months to get over it. Let me explain what happened, what helped me out and how I discovered about the Post-Ride blues.

Early August I have ridden L’Altra P-B-P, a 1900km cycling event from Pinerolo (Italy) to Barcelona (Spain) and back to Pinerolo. For months I have been working towards the event. Riding my bike, making the necessary milage. Since I want to participate in The Transcontinental in 2017, I thought this a good way to get some more experience in longer rides.

I have been suffering for days that week. Not physical, but mentally. The first day was ok. It was hot with temperatures between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius, but I was really enjoying it so far. Early in the morning on the second day, I was riding towards the top of Mont Ventoux, I broke mentally. Riding up a mountain while having to cry all the time doesn’t work. Eventually after hours, I made it and took a quick descent to meet some friends. That helped me get on track again.

After a good night sleep in a hostel in Avignon (needed it badly, but lost time over there), I was back on track. Had a good day and slept on the beach for a few hours at Séte, before riding to Narbonne during the night. After breakfast I found my pace and was rapidly heading towards Perpignan, close to the Pyrenees. Unfortunately I experienced three flat tires, so I had to find me a bike shop to get new ones. I lost a complete afternoon, while I was already behind on my schedule. I decided to scratch. Emotional decision, but it was wise to do.

The days following I managed my way back to Torino (Italy) to get my train back home. After I week of riding my bike for more than 1500 km, I was really looking forward to go home. Sleeping in my own bed, waking up with coffee on my couch. The regular routine. But when I arrived home, I didn’t feel so good mentally. I experienced an emptiness. All I have been training for was over. It felt as if the walls were closing in on me.

The Post-Ride Blues

Meanwhile I didn’t had any urge to get on my bike again. I did, but I didn’t enjoy it. Once or twice a week I did a ride an hour. I reacted agitated to the friends and family around me (Sorry guys). Which isn’t also very good maintaining friendships. I didn’t have a good time and went to bars to drink beer. I drank more beer in a week than I normally drink in a month. Not quite a healthy lifestyle.

Ironically visiting bars bumped me into learning new people. People who didn’t know about my struggle those weeks. They were a blessing! So much love and positivity kept me standing. A few weeks later I read a blog of Emily Chappell, a female cyclist I admire a lot, about the lack of women riding long-distance races. I have to confess I had my doubts entering The Transcontinental next year, but this blog hit me. Just do it. I had a new goal. Much needed.

Two days later, I stumbled upon an episode of the Tough Girl Podcast where Emily was interviewed. Somewhere in the episode, she was talking about having a post-ride blues. Suddenly all puzzle pieces were falling at the right place for me. This was exactly what I was feeling.

From that day on, I did ride my bike with fun again. I have a goal. I have friends and family who support me in different ways. I have a bike, which I like having adventures with. I’m feeling happy again.

Thank you all!

Thank you

Het zit er op. L’Altra P-B-P. Ik heb afgezien, ik heb genoten, ik heb gelachen, ik heb gehuild. Het was zwaar, maar een waar avontuur. Jullie hebben me min of meer geholpen. Alle aanmoedigingen via Twitter en Facebook of persoonlijk via telefoon. Dank daarvoor!

Alle mensen die gedoneerd hebben aan KWF, jullie zijn toppers!

Vooralsnog voel ik me trots, dat ik meer dan dat ik ooit in een week gefietst heb. Maar ik voel me ook een beetje teleurgesteld/verdrietig, omdat ik niet heb kunnen rijden, wat ik graag had willen rijden. De eerste 3 dagen hebben er behoorlijk ingehakt mentaal. Als ik terugdenk aan de momenten op de flanken van Mont Ventoux, springen de tranen weer in mijn ogen.

Ga ik dit nog eens doen? Ik weet het niet. Op dit moment ben ik daar nog niet over uit. Waar ik tegenaan hik, is het rijden met bagage aan mijn racefiets. Zeker berg op, is dit bijzonder zwaar. Alsof iemand continu je fiets naar achter trekt. Ik hoop dat ik voor mezelf snel een nieuw doel kan stellen. Nu voelt het alsof er even niks meer is. Ik vind dat niet echt een lekker gevoel. Ik heb graag iets waarop ik me kan gaan focussen.

Bedankt kanjers! <3