Race Around the Netherlands editie 2021, 1911 km


Omdat veel mensen me volgden op Strava maar niet iedereen op Instagram zit heb ik hier enkele ‘posts’ van mijn (Engelstalige) Instagram account Velogem verzameld van vlak voor, tijdens en vlak na een memorabele editie van de Race Around the Netherlands 2021.

Maar eerst even wat meer informatie, want niet iedereen zal weten wat RatN precies inhoudt!

RatN is een self-supporting, endurance race door Nederland van 1911 km. Door corona waren er dit jaar enkele aanpassingen, zo was de start verspreid over twee ochtenden ipv gezamenlijk en was het toegestaan van te voren al accommodaties te boeken. De basisregels waren verder hetzelfde: hulp aannemen van vrienden of familie is niet toegestaan, je mag zelf kiezen hoe je de afstand indeelt, en of je slaapt in een tent, bivvi of hotel (of gewoon niet) onderweg. Door middel van een gps-apparaatje dat je meekreeg, konden mensen je volgen via een website. Start en finish waren zoals altijd bij de Proloog in Amerongen.

Ik had een schema uitgezet van ca 240 km per dag, zodat ik 8 dagen later terug zou zijn bij de Proloog. Althans dat was dus het plan, de realiteit was dat het zo hard waaide en dat de storm op dinsdag 4 mei roet in mijn schema strooide. De twee dagen daarvoor had ik al vreselijke tegenwind gehad tussen Groningen en Flevoland. Nu zat ik in Hoorn en moest een open stuk bovenop de dijk daar op, midden in een storm windkracht 5 tot 7. Na 6 km geprobeerd te hebben, besloot ik dat ik mijn fiets niet onder controle had en me heel onveilig voelde. Het betekende een extra nacht in Hoorn uiteindelijk.

De wind (en regen en kou) hadden grote gevolgen: er gingen 59 solo rijders en 6 duo’s van start. Hiervan finishte slechts 30 rijders, 27 DNF en 2 werden gediskwalificeerd. Van de 6 duo’s finishte slechts 1 duo. Alle 4 de solo rijdende dames bereikten de finish. Uiteindelijk kwam ik een dag later dan gepland binnen.

27 april

Ratn prepping today as I still need to work on Wednesday and Thursday. I will start Friday (30th of April) at 8 am as cap 44!!

Well what did I pack (weatherforecast is cold and wet!): 2 pair of bibs (1 long and one short), my Castelli Gabba jacket, 2 baselayers, 1 merino jersey from Isadore, raincoat from Cafe du Cycliste, buff, armwarmers, legwarmers, 2 pair of merino socks, waterproof Grib Grab gloves and merino undergloves, my Wahoo + a spair Wahoo, sunglasses, light shoes, t-shirt, thin Nike trousers, sportsbra, underwear, FOOD!!!, spork, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, hairbrush, plasters, sun screen, butt butter & sudo-creme, handwash soap, painkillers, 2 small locks, 3 spare inner tubes, bike lube + a cloth, tire lifters, 3 CO2 cartridges, vitamin pills, mini bike tool, mini-pump, missing link for chain, spare derailleur hanger, 2 usb cables and usb-charger, battery pack, tissues, wipes, bike lights (mandatory) + 2 small ones, Ortlieb and Restrap bags to put it all in!

4 mei

These last four days were so incredible, there were lows and highs, but I felt an incredible force inside myself. Spirits kept high 98% of the time, there was no doubt, I would do this. No rain or wind or discomforts could stop me. I woke up by myself every morning at 5.30 am, energy flowing already, my cheeks still burning from the day before.

This felt like a better version of myself cause there were no insecurities, only trust. Trust in me fixing any problems on my way, always looking at it in a positive mind set. Switching to plan b or even plan c if necessary. Just one pedal stroke after each other in a grinding cadans back home. I was in a flow, fed by my love for cycling, endorphines, and the support of friends, family and strangers. I sang on my bike, I laughed, I cried happy tears. Tomorrow I will continue, cause this storm will not stop me.

9 mei

People ask me a lot why did you want to ride RATN? There where many different reasons, I list them for you.

1- Sportive challenge: I wanted to challenge myself, try something different. I have done a lot since I started cycling in 2009 (like Tour for Life, Marmotte, Ard├ęchoise), but never anything this tough! I wanted to see how far I could push my body and mind in an endurance event.

2 – I wanted to see different parts of The Netherlands, allthough I have cycled all around Europe, I still had not visited or cycled in some parts of my own country!

3 – the stories of people I knew from the 2020 edition were very inspirational. I wanted to be part of this experience too.

4 – this month I turn 40 years old, RATN felt like a celebration of what I like to do most: cycling. A special gift to myself, and also to do it solo. Solo but not alone, all these people literally watching my back. I maybe needed to find my true self back a bit, my selfconfidence, my spirit, something I have been working on for some months.

So RATN was never a race in the true sense, it was about me reaching the finish in the time I had set out for myself. Not against the others. Trusting that I could do it, trusting total strangers, trusting my lower back would cooperate. It was also about the joys of the preparation, the training, getting the right gear.

Not many women participate in these kind of events unfortunately. I hope I have shown a little determination brings you a long way, 1911 km exactly!

Gemma, Timo en Bert

10 mei

There were good days and better days, but never easy days during RATN.

Some days the wind was the one making it hard, but the following day it would have your back. And your tiredness or buttocks were the ones making it hard.

But as distances of app. 250 km a day are hard to fathom, I split the days up in smaller bits, even tiny bits. Sometimes it was just the next pole aside the bikepath when I struggled along at a pace of 12 km/h. Sometimes I promised myself the Mars bar that was in my bar bag when I would reach the next village. Or I could have a look at my phone. And bit by bit, I made real progress. Yes you need to have the eye on the prize: finishing RATN, but you can only do it one kilometer at a time.

So always just keep pedalling, stay positive and trust your instincts, you will get there in the end!

Gemma Adelaar, cap 44

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