In April we are going to have our first training camp of 2012. After several years that we used to start in Alcalali Spain, Pieter, the Champ, Brown, Carl and Stok will visit Lombardia (Italy) for the first time to train. To get in the mood Pieter has the new Dutch documentary 'Il Lombardia'. It is all about the fantastic way Italians appreciate and experience cycling. Below you will find a trailer and some great images from the race.
We plan to climb the Passo del Ghisallo, the Muro de Sormano, the Splugenpass and hopefully the Passo San Marco and the Culmine di San Pietro. Let's hope Lombardia will be beautiful in April as well.
Romin Pro: this version is not available in EU.
For the last 5 years i used the Fizik Arione saddle. I thought it suited me as a cyclist: a longer saddle that made it easy to slightly shift position to the front and back. But after the recommandation in Men's Journal as 'Gear of the Year' (calling it the 'Package Protector') and an impressive 5 star review in Bikeradar.com I could not resist. Eventhough i "thought' i was in a comfortable position i realized i had accepted my lower backpains after a ride with the Arione as part of my cycling life. Having an old L4-L5 problem i'd never blamed the saddle or position for i, but this test tought me a lot about comfort and position.
Testing the Romin you need to be open to change the old reverences given by your old saddle. The first moment testing the Romin Evo was quite odd. You are radically placed on your two sitbones and for the first 15 minutes that doesn't give a very comfortable feeling. Second i missed the presure (pain) in the middle of the saddle, which used to be a indication of power and speed. These two initial cons were rebuttaled by the immediate feeling my legs had more space and freedom to move. That was strange i had expected my wing frex Arione had given me maximal freedom but perhaps it can be explaned by the size of my saddle: after measuring i got the smaller size 130mm.
With this extra moving freedom for my legs i slowly got used to this new saddle, and after 2 months and about 1200 km i can say: I love it and i don't want anything else anymore. After some re-positioning of the saddle i discovered the benifits of the curve-up at the back of the Romin. The scientist say it allows you not to bend your back so much as you need to with a flatter saddle, and my back really feels it. NO MORE BACKPAIN!!! Last months i cycled twice on my other bike (my Canyon for climbing) and after 40kmy backpain returned. For me the Romin saddle is a delight, after getting used to the pressure on my sitbones. I feel more freedom to move, i sit more tight in the saddle and my back is very happy finally. This saddle delivered more than i ever thought would be possible.
The only negative to mention on the Romin saddle is that we cannot buy the white or Team version of the Romin Pro of Evo in the Netherlands nor the EU. That is grazy and almost unacceptable after these these two great reviews and my personal experience. I need an second saddle (team version) for my climbing bike to save my back, but how do i get one?
Pieter and Kerst after Dokkum
Friday 10 february 2012 will be in our memory forever! We skated the Elfstedentocht in a group of eight: Caspar Hermans, Pieter Booij, Dave Wendt, Ad Bakker, William Stokman, Kerst de Vries Ramon Smolders & Rob Faltin. South of Leeuwarden we started not before a short moment for the national anthem of Friesland performed by Rob Faltin on horn. Leaving almost with sunrise the Zwette (the way to Sneek) was quiet, only shared with some other groups with the same idea to do the Elfstedentocht today. It had a magical atmosphere.
We turned out to be a solid group and we maintained a pace that everyone could follow. Putting the strongest on top and the others to shelter behind them, we made it a successful and rewarding tour for everyone. We were supported by Jan de Vries who provided us coffee and food along the way in Stavoren, Bolsward and Franeker.
The ice was most of the time of excellent quality, and with the nice sunny weather we could experience the beauty of the Province of Friesland. After the finish we encountered the hospitality of the Friesian People: Fokke & Gerti offered us hot showers and a wonderful meal. Thank you guys so much for treating us so well.
It is a Dutch dream to skate the Elfstedentocht. A 200 kilometer tour through the province of Friesland. The Elfstedentocht is more exceptional that the Olympics because it can only be done when we have extreme winters in the Netherlands. We are already waiting since 1997 for the next one.
Last week a real cold winter kicked in and now everyone in Holland is waiting for the Elfstedentocht. Will it happen or not? Stok, Pieter, Dave and Ad skated this tour in 1997 a few days after the official one, with their college Iceskating instructors of Duosport Amsterdam. It was a hard but memorable day, and some great friendships were born during that tour. This year some of us hope to do the same.
Only Ad has the permission to to the official one, but the rest of us is not whining about missing out the lottery of not having a membership. We do it ourselves? Of course we'll go on another day than the official one. We don't want to be blackriders.
To do it ourselves brings more heroism. It is like the old days (hundred years ago) that a group of friends decided that they could do the tour including 11 cities. This year Stok, Caspar and Wouter are up for the challenge and they find support with the skating buddies of Stok: Kerst, Ramon and Robert.
If you want to it as well: use the route below. This is the official route (through Balk), not the one with possible detour around the Fluessen. Enjoy!
Snowy landscape near Overleek
Tuesday 7th of February was a wonderful day for ice skating in Waterland. Some of us (Caspar, Wouter, William, Kerst en Ramon) are preparing for the Elfstedentocht 200k. No not the official one. We will skate it another day when possible. As a preparation for this big tour we made two turns in Waterland, with some other loops which almost made 90k. The Northeastern wind made it amazingly cold and hard to make speed but after two stops at the wonderful tea-house near Overleek we got new energy to move on.
We are ready for the big tour!!!
We also have to thank all the volunteers for preparing the ice. Thank you guys.
3 february 2012: We couldn't wait after all these days waiting full of stories of other people skating on the ice in Holland. We just had to go! And we chose to go to Waterland (a beautiful area north of Amsterdam full of beautiful lakes and canals). Of course we were a bit worried for wind holes (windwakken) that just got frozen up last night, but anxiety took over. Completely disregarding the Dutch weather alarm in the morning for upcoming snow, we rushed to the ice to be there before we could not see the weaker spots anymore.
We started near Randsdorp (just outside Amsterdam). Four of us wore these blue tights of Duosport showing that we use to be ice-skate instructors. Yes we are pro's, we know where to go. We take care of our safety, bringing at least two long ropes with us.
There we went but after 5 minutes we saw a guy crashing through the ice that just asked us if it was safe. "Just follow the tracks" we said but after 200 meter, he went in. We got him out immediately. Something stupid like that we would not happen to us!
It was beautiful but we saw many unsafe spots where others crashed through the ice. Than 20 kilometers further at Overleek on a small canal Stok and Wouter crashed through the ice. Stok overlooked a frozen windhole. Stok bleeded in his face, Pieter threw his rope to pull Stok out. Caspar pulled Wouter out of the canal. Than Stok decided to skate back 20k against the cold wind completely unaware that Wouter was skating in a wetsuit as well. That was a cold endeavorer and most of our wet clothes froze stiff.
The snowstorm was hitting hard and we saw many people skating alone in the snow, and we worried what would happen if they got in without the help of a group. The snow and the hidden wind holes made a deadly mix and it was completely irresponsible to skate at that moment. Hopefully a look on Stok's bloody face discouraged others.
What we learned:
Stok and Dave (with ropes for safety)
Winter finally arrived in Holland. We are waiting for the ice to be thick enough to hold us. Col Cycling with friends will become Ice Skating with Friends hopefully for more than a week. We will give it a go on friday. Some of us are even getting the 'Eleven City Track' (Elfstedentocht) fever: Will it come? We are already waiting for 14 years.
Ad, Pieter, Dave and Stok skated the 200k Elfstedentocht (together with their collegue iceskate-instructors of Duosport Amsterdam) end of february 1997. It was the beginning of a great friendship and one of the cornerstones of all our cycling activity that came much later.
Iceskating in nature is something magical for the Dutch. It is like nature sometimes offers you the key to enter the landscape in a completely different and beautiful way. Today in the east of Holland there were some lucky ones that found places to skate. Here is a beautiful video captured today that expresses in the best way possible the sensation of ice-skating in the Dutch Landscape.
Yesterday i saw nice animations of climbs, now i am making them myself by with Google Street view.
Here is the northside of the Colle della Fauniera. The southside of the Fauniera and the Southside of the Col de la Lombarde are shown on the stage page. Watch these two tunnels in the beginning of the climb. You think the first is small, wait for the second!!! Scary.
Col de Couillole in 3D with Google Earth
I stumbled on a new application that integrates, Google earth, 3D and Google street view for Cols in the Alpes. Now we don't have to cycle them anymore to see their beauty. Here is an example of the Col de Couillole (probably the first col in our Alpentour 2012).
Enjoy, and plan your jump from behind your screen. See for more cols on: http://www.cyclingthealps.com/