Saturday 8 May 2010

Ticket to ride

My colleague Harry unfortunately can't take part in the Fietselfstedentocht this year, so he offered me his entry form, which I've very gratefully accepted.

The 240 km long ride is limited to 15000 entrants. The population of the country is around 16 million, so nearly one in a thousand people from the Netherlands take part in this event each year. The event has been held every year since 1912, except in 2001 when an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease caused cancellation.

I'll be riding my Mango over the course. It's now a touring event, not a race, and the 25 km/h maximum allowed average speed means no real advantage from aerodynamics, but it's comfortable to ride in the Mango.

We'll be setting off in 23 groups of 600 people at a time, each group starting eight minutes apart between 5:00 and 8:00 on the morning of the 24th of May. I'm in group 8, which means starting at 5:56.

My plan is to ride to Bolsward the day before with my tent and perhaps return the day after the event. It's about 85 km from here.


The official website of the Fietselfstedentocht is here.

The original Elfstedentocht, dating back to 1909, is an ice skating event over 200 km which is named for the Eleven Cities ("Elf Steden") that the frozen canals pass through. This event is only held on winters which get cold enough (last winter the canals and lakes froze enough for skating, but not enough for the elfstedentocht).

The 1963 Elfstedentocht, the coldest and most difficult in history, was recently the subject of a very enjoyable film.

There are also Elfstedentochts by roller skate and scooter (pushing with one foot, not with an engine) so by taking part in the cycling version I feel I'm definitely taking the easy option.

The Dutch version of the wikipedia page has more information.


Kevin Love said...

Every year since 1912? Including 1944? That must have been a tough year for the race organizers.

Frits B said...

Every year since 1947, as the website explains: "The tour has been organised since 1912. Since 1947 this is a yearly event, with exception of 2001. In this year, the tour had to be cancelled because of the foot and mouth disease in Holland."

For the historically (and etymologically) interested: Friesland used to have 11 cities (small towns but with full city rights) and 30 grietenijen or local communities. Legislation covering the entire province had to be approved by all concerned, which used to take rather much time. As a result, the expression "op zijn elf en dertigst" came to mean "sedately". I see the race follows this example ...

Christoph said...

Why do they use the cycle tracks most of the time? Even when the Dutch Cycle tracks are wonderful, they meet their limits with thousands of cyclists.

Maarten said...

David: you'll need dispensation for a multi-tracked bike (i.e. a trike such as your Mango). Harry can probably point out where you'll need to ask.


Maarten - going for his second.