Again it’s been a while since my last post, so there is lot’s of news to catch up on. The (cycle) challenges I spoke of in my last blog have been and gone, with mixed results. I’ll get back to them in a while, along with telling you all what’s in my future plans…but let’s just say there is now something new, something huge, so don’t go away and if you’re not interested in the family stuff, skip down past this next section.
Being a full time daddy is exhausting, even more so now that Natascha is toddling around and so quick that she can actually run. What is very apparent to both me and Hilke is we have an extremely active daughter, who wants to get into everything and climbs at every opportunity. Just watching her climb the slide (unaided) at the local playing ground and it’s hard to believe she is only just over a year old.
To say she is a handful is a gross understatement! This however fits perfectly into our lifestyle as we ourselves are very activity minded, we walk or cycle everywhere (having no other means of transport) and so it’s no surprise we chose to have our first weekend camping trip with Natascha pretty early on to test out how she would cope with travelling in the Burley trailer for extended periods and sleeping outdoors. We were amazed with how well it went.
I’ve not had much experience of cycling with a trailer so the BoB was a bit of a handful too, but this is how we would gear up for the trip to Norway a few weeks later. It was to be our annual holiday and my entry into the 543 kilometre Styrkeprøven race.
We were fortunate enough to be sharing part of the trip with two friends from my cycling club, Herwig and Diana. The plan was to drive to Hirtshals in Denmark then take the overnight ferry to Bergen, Norway. From there we had set ourselves the target of cycling to Otta (a distance of 524 km’s) over a couple of pretty big passes (including the highest pass in Northern Europe!) and then taking the train to Trondheim, where my race started from. It was tougher than we had both expected, mostly because we had no idea how we would cope with the trailers and Natascha. Now I’m built for climbing hills, but Hilke, well the nearest thing she sees to them is the bridge over the canals here in the Netherlands. To say I’m proud of her is an understatement, because although she got annoyed at me taking pictures of her suffering, she never gave up.
We both loved Norway, however what was not so good was combining the competition (Styrkeproven) with our annual holiday. It was just too much pressure, we both agreed it would have been much nicer to spend more time at our destinations instead of having to quickly pass through. It’s definitely a mistake we will not repeat. As for the competition, well I have mixed feelings with the final result. I finished in a very credible 21 hours for the 543km route, but it could have been better. I broke some of my own rules (in a nutshell – I didn’t ride solo as I should have) so I can take away from this race a sense of satisfaction that improvements can be gained.
Being who I am, coming back from holiday left me wondering what to do next challenge wise. I’m really lucky in that respect, as Hilke more than understands this need I have to always be challenging myself, pushing my limits. It’s just as well and something again I’m really grateful for – her unfailing support for my endeavors. I had in the back of my mind an idea to try and break the Zwift indoor mileage record, set at 1,000 miles (1,602km) last December by RAAM cyclist Ray Brown, but this really would be quite an undertaking.
All this was going on about the time I was also looking at being more active as a ride leader on Zwift. It’s a great training tool, but more importantly for me, a great international community with riders from all over the world. I was approached by one of the biggest outfits in terms of putting on rides, Team dZi and after a lengthy conversation with one of the senior members (Hugo) I was asked to join. It just seemed to fit nicely with my aim of taking part in more community rides online, but they were also a team that rode in real life too and looking into the dZi Foundation behind the team, I was really impressed with the work they do. Rather than write about it here, I’d ask you to take a look at their website Here.
You can never know how a simple conversation can turn things upside down, so mentioning to Hugo that I was thinking seriously at having a go at riding indoors for 72 hours I never in my wildest dreams expected what happened next. Before I knew it, instead of a low-key do at home challenge (or at the local sports centre – something I was also going to look into) I was going to be on a podium, in the entrance of one of the biggest bike shows here in the Netherlands, BikeMotion Benelux. Not only that, but now sponsored to break the Zwift record by a handful of companies, most notably Wahoo Fitness and their distributor, DeDigitaleSporter. This was a huge upgrade and a little bit scary, now I had no choice but to perform.
Time to put another of my plans (sitting in the back of my head) into action, the building of a specific website to assist me with my dreams of taking part next season in some of the biggest Ultra Cycling events. This seemed like the perfect platform to launch my bid for sponsorship. Surely no-one in the industry could ignore I was a ‘serious’ cyclist if I broke the record and cycled 1,000 miles non-stop? I mean, no one has even attempted it. Hmm… maybe I’m just a madman.
The website came online and I’m quickly trying to put everything together, running around collecting kit, cycling to a meeting with my sponsors (a round trip of 500 km’s) and chasing others to help. All this and I still had to get in a BIG indoor ride to show people I was serious about this. So I did. I managed 775km in 24 hours and had I not fallen asleep for an hour it could have been 800+. This was well above the pace required, so a pretty good effort and I hope, a way to ease any nervousness by my sponsors.
With a little under two weeks to go to the event, it’s all hands on deck, while also fitting in my parenting duties. Not easy, but then again I thrive under pressure. I hope if things go well this is just the beginning of challenges we use for fundraising, the next will be World Bicycle Relief in December, where after failing to complete the distance last year due to saddle sores (something I’m now well on top of) I expect to finish in first place.
Please take the time to have a look at my new website and consider helping with my fundraising effort. You can also catch up on all of this by following the links in the post above, or here’s a list of them all:
My Fundraising Page for dZi – Justgiving
The Bike Show in Utrecht – BikeMotion Benelux.
The dZi Foundation – dZi Foundation
Indoor Cycling Platform, Zwift – Zwift
World Bicycle Relief – WBR