So, the year comes slowly to close and, with it, the triple challenges I set myself with the bike. Just one left now After Liege-Bastogne-Liege (agony in the rain!) and Mont Ventoux via Malaucene (agony in the Sun!) comes the easy one (no agony??? Please???). The Rondje Markermeer….
In comparison to the the first two challenges it’s certainly less logistics. Effectively on the backdoor and I can do it when I want, subject to work, weather, other commitments…… Plenty of places to stop on the route and I can always just postpone; something that was not the case for Liege-Bastogne-Liege, for example. If there is a hurricane, I can postpone. If I get out of bed the wrong side, I can postpone. If the coffee isn’t nice in the morning, I can postpone.
You get the drift.
But the psychotic cyclist in me (cyclepath?) will do it. That’s the point of the challenges. The winter is coming and, before that, the Autumn Storms. The opportunities will be less.
So I need to get on with it.
What is it, though?
As per the above link, the good folk at Strava have the Rondje Markermeer mapped out, which saves me describing it. A long ride around a lake would probably suffice. Effectively, just a long ride from my home. In terms of overall achievement, it will be the longest ride I have undertaken but not by much. There have been rides with more climbing involved and in bad in weather. The wind will be the main hardship but anyone who has cycled in Holland knows that the wind will always be a factor. It’s there, nothing to stop it.
So why call it a challenge?
Because it will be a long ride and, following the extremities of the first two challenges, something of a wind down. After this, the bike rides will slow down a little. The winter is, bizarrely, my favourite time to ride. Shorter but still demanding, the occasional fun in the snow with my gravel bike, nothing to really aim for apart from pure enjoyment. But it is still a route that is long, windy and potentially wet. Around halfway, probably at some point on the Houtribdijk when I am just surrounded by water, I will think….
‘Why the f*ck am I doing this?’
And, as the 50 km mark for Liege-Bastogne-Liege or just about anywhere on Mont Ventoux that wasn’t the top, I will try to push that thought to one side and carry on. Finish the ride.
That night, when I am having a celebratory beer or 48 and a bad pizza, I will probably promise myself that I will never do it again. Not that I listen to myself very often.
And that will be 2017 challenges done.