Yesterday one of the greatest old bike rides rides this year took place in a small town near Utrecht, Netherlands.
Am I really starting this way? No, I´m not.
After taking part in last year´s Utrechtse Heuvelrug ride I thought that the amount of hospitality, good humour, company and wonderful bikes in one ride could not be topped, but I was wrong.
As a first sentence, this is not much better, either.
Is there a way to adequately describe the hospitality, the atmosphere and the good company encountered in yesterday´s Utrechtse Heuvelrug ride?
Split infinitive, heck. Oh well, I have to get started somehow. So let´s carry on.
My son, an exchange colleague of mine from Austria and myself loaded ourselves and our bikes into my trusty Volvo and set off at a quarter past eight to cover 220 km of motorway in order to take part in a ride which I had been looking forward to all the time since last year´s had ended. We arrived just on time to get the last available parking space within easy cycling distance of the meeting point, Café Buitenlust, assembled our bikes and right away saw a great number of friendly faces.
My estimate is that there were no fewer than a hundred participants, most on truly great bicycles. We set off a few minutes after the appointed starting time, and it soon became clear that we were on the same route as last year, only the other way round. I didn´t mind that one bit as I had enjoyed last year´s route greatly with its mix of cycleways and onverhard, not tarmacked paths, some slight rises and loads of miles in the woods.
Soon we came up to a feeding station where we were fed cake and Dutch Ontbijtkoek, literally translated breakfast cake, but just as delicious at noon. Despite the sign saying “office”, there was no registering, no fees, no hassle of any kind, with the organizing family once again paying for all the food and undergoing all the work of preparing the ride by themselves.
Typical shoddy Nervex workmanship, left untreated in this forkcrown. I´m not quite sure I didn´t mix up bikes – look at the non-Nervex seatcluster. Perhaps someone can help? Did I mix the pics up with the Frisol? And is this built by Zielman? What a mess.
The other bike that stood out was a Masi Prestige:
Soon, the next food stop loomed. More wafers with cream, sausages, cookies and Italian Limoncello liquor waited for the none too hungry cyclists, many of which had also partaken of coffee and cake at a cafe stop earlier on.
By then I had given up on taking photos of all of the bikes, there just were too many. I restricted myself to details.
Early on in the Second World War, the Dutch Army had tried to resist the invading Wehrmacht in a battle in which 420 Dutch and 250 German soldiers lost their lives. The battle is unconnected with the famous Operation Market Garden which was preceded by the Grebbeberg battle by about four years. It had taken place on 11-13th May 1940 right were the burial place now lies, and the cemetary now is the place where on each 4th May the Dutch national day of remembrance ceremonies are held. There are now about 800 Dutch soldiers buried here.
Back to the ride which did not pass without some technical hitches. There even was talk of a crash, but I couldn´t verify this. Most certainly, though, it was bedevilled by a number of punctures. Several times a sound like a pistol shot would announce another old tubular giving up its ghost. During the procedure to get the bike on the road again, many more conversations would be held, and on one occasion we were even able to watch part of a field hockey game in a location well chosen by the tubular which had blown up.
However, the weather was very nice, and so people didn´t mind for the most part, not even watching game of field hockey. The ride ended considerably later than planned though, but this couldn´t mar the overall phantastic impression it left behind. It´s definitively a “tot volgend jaar”, see you next year.
Can I end the post like this? Guess so.