1300km in 8 stages with start and finish in different places.
In addition to riding for more than 5+ hours per day, there is much more to do to keep the wheels moving – literally.
Here is an overview of my “typical” day during ‘The Ride‘:
By now, day 3, I have settled into the rhythm what it means to be part of The Ride – the cycling challenge that goes from Italy to the Netherlands through 8 countries in 8 stages.
The day starts around 4am. Usually I wake up to go to the bathroom. While contemplating if I could wait it out or if I really should go through the procedure – scrambling myself out of the sleeping bag, putting shoes on, unzipping the tent, half-sleep walking to the bathroom and then remembering where my tent was afterwards – I often lied on my air mattress long enough that when I made a decision I was already fully awake. So I went.
But, usually there was a wave effect. One person unzipped the tent and then the next and the next. Everyone seemed to wake up at the same time for the same reason.
In the morning, there are certain things everyone is doing, only the sequence is different depending on the type of morning person one is: Breakfast, putting clothes on, packing, bringing bags to the truck, getting the bike ready and lining up at the start line.
My priority was coffee. Everything else could wait.
Everyone had their own strategy to get themselves ready for the 8am start.
At the start line, we would start in groups of around 10 in one minute intervals to avoid a big group on the road.
For directions, we would follow the GPS routes that were given to us. Or follow other riders.
Today were 200km ahead of us crossing Switzerland. Only one major climb but multiple minor hills. After I was pushing hard the previous two days, my goal was to take it easy today. Enjoy the ride. Stop for coffee if there is a chance and only push hard during the challenge segment.
I found myself in several groups from time to time, did stop for coffee and did push hard up the timed segment. Everything went according to plan. Except one thing. I underestimated the heat!
It was sunny and very warm.
Because of the headwind, I didn’t realize how much water I was losing. It came with a bang: dizziness, feeling sick to my stomach and my blood felt like it was boiling.
I knew I am getting into trouble. I told my group that I needed some water. We would stop at the next water fountain. Luckily, one of the event-supporting motorbikes passed by and he gave me a bottle. Instead of drinking, it went straight over my head.
I felt like a million bucks.
After a long, hot day in the saddle, we arrived at around 16:00 at our destination, the next camping ground in Sempach, Switzerland.
From there on, I resumed the routine: After signing in and some post-ride soup, I collected my bags from the truck and put all my belongings into one free of the 260 tents that have been assembled by the event volunteers before our arrival. All were equipped with air mattresses. The only thing you need is a sleeping bag. What a service!
After choosing a tent (and remembering which one I chose), it was time to locate the showers, then recharging all devices at the massive recharge station, then maybe a free massage. When writing this, it sounds like everything is going quite quick – but far from it. The beauty of everyone staying at the campground is to be able to catch up with the fellow riders, getting to know the tent neighbors while sharing stories about the stage. I got fully absorbed by the cycling atmosphere. My world has become a small bubble. And I loved it. I only had to worry about cycling to the Netherlands.
At 19:30 dinner was served, prepared by a chef of one of the Pro Tour teams. It hit the spot. A combination of good carbs, meat and salads. We were sitting on benches under a tent with a stage at the front which gave me a bit of an Oktoberfest feeling. Thanks to the organizer there was always a great vibe because Carlo used to be part of a rock band. So he definitely knows how to put on a show!
At 20:30 everyone assembled at the tent for the daily meeting. The organizers Gijs and Carlo talked about the happenings of the day, the route for the following day, the challenge winners and a video that summarized the emotions and actions of the day.
By 21:00 after the meeting, a lot of people went straight to their tents. I was never able to go to sleep right away because the video got me too fired up and excited for the day ahead.
Around 23:00 I found myself in the tent studying the course for the next day. I got excited again. It didn’t help. I knew I had to sleep soon because at 4am I would have the contemplation with myself again whether I should get up or not.
Monika, good night! Go to sleep!
Awww….loving it, living the European cycling adventure!
Thanks to Eppo Karsijns from Red Pixl Media for the fantastic pictures!
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