Monday 18 October 2010

Lelystad Enkhuizen Lelystad time-trial

Yesterday was the last competition of the summer season of races with the NVHPV - a time trial over 51 km, crossing 25.5 km of a dyke from Lelystad to Enkhuizen, and riding back again to the start place.

The start point is on the edge of Lelystad, a city established in 1967 as the capital of the province of Flevoland, which is the world's largest artificial island. Enkhuizen, in the province of North Holland at the other end of the dyke, is a smaller city, but also much older. It was given city rights in 1355.

The port of Enkhuizen used to open onto the sea, but now borders two huge artificial freshwater lakes, the Markermeer and the IJsselmeer. These are divided by the Houtribdijk - the dyke along which the time trial took place.

As you might expect in such an exposed place, the wind is very strong. Sailing is less important now for trade, but it remains a popular pass-time locally. There is also much evidence of electricity generation from the wind. On Sunday, the wind was coming from the North East, so there was a tailwind only for the very last stretch on the return run.

Having set the scene, here's the video, which due to my camera battery running out after a few minutes only includes edited highlights of the first few minutes of racing:

I didn't do all that well. 27th out of 39 competitors. I've had a pain down my right side for over a week now, and it's really not helpful for cycling, not that I'd be anywhere near the winners if I didn't have it. It took me nearly 80 minutes to ride the 51 km with an average of under 39 km/h, a long way behind the winner's speed of 59 km/h. However, it was a lot of fun.

A video made by Cees at the far side of the dyke, where help was on hand to turn people around. I'm in this video at 4:30, where you'll also see how I ended up cycling under a sailing ship at the start my return run.

At this point, I think thanks are in order to the many people in the NVHPV involved in organising these events. It's been a great year of racing, very enjoyable every time. The official story about the race, with more links, is here.

Relative to other places, there are several things notable about the cycle path along the dyke. First of all that the dyke was built with a cycle path at all. That would always be the case in NL. It's not classed as a "superhighway", or given any other fancy name. While it's an extraordinary facility compared with what is on offer in many other places, it's not been the subject of any hype at all. It's just a normal cycle path, joining up with other normal cycle paths to every other destination at either end of the dyke. Also note the wide demographics of people using it, not only those of us involved in sport, but both teenagers and pensioners were using the dyke cycle path. In this case, they were presumably making their journeys for pleasure given that it was a Sunday, but it's there for anyone to use at any time. Including, in our case, for a time-trial, with people riding in safety at high speed.

My Mango a day before the race, newly fitted with Continental Grand Prix tyres on the front, and an Avocet on the rear.

2011 Update - the Grand Prix tyres didn't last all that long.

Many thanks to Martin Merkelbag for the photo of me taking part in the time-trial. The small black thing taped on the front of the Mango is the camera which took most of the video. The Houtribdijk isn't actually the longest dyke in the Netherlands. I rode across the Afsluitdijk on a previous occasion. Read my review of the Sinner Mango Velomobile.


Anonymous said...

That looked like a lot of fun, David. I was particularly impressed with the 'rapid turn around' for the velomobiles.

The back-to-back recumbant looked like a strange alien creature walking around the corner!


Paul Martin
Brisbane, Australia

Mark W. said...

Great video of the keerpunt. Nice to see so many different types of 'bicycles'. Some are truely amazing!

Nick said...

Fascinating; it looks like fun. But I'm curious; why pick a course that requires someone to physically heave the machines around before they can complete it?

David Hembrow said...

Nick: It is a bit unusual. I think this feature is merely for the novelty of it. There must be somewhere nearby which would make turning around a bit easier, but perhaps it would make times dependent on traffic lights.

Apart from the difficult turn, the route itself - almost completely flat, no corners to speak of, and a guarantee of hideous headwinds for at least some of the route - makes conditions absolutely ideal for the Quest velomobile, built just a few km away from Lelystad in Dronten.

Neil said...

The velo riders seemed to have a distinct advantage on the turns - the help made it faster than padding round carefully, that the recumbent riders had to do, and I notice they got a small push off too.

On the turn, there seemed to be a way in (the cycle route) and a way out (the grey path), though I notice some came in on the "wrong" one and one person even went off the "wrong" way.