At the beginning of September Mike, Elisa, Ed and myself joined the Jules and Friends Bike Event 2019, where we would be cycling between 50 and 100 km a day. Here is how we got on…
Mike, Elisa and I loaded the car up Thursday evening immediately after work and set off for Harwich for the overnight Ferry to Holland, safe in the knowledge that Ed was winging his way over by plane from Manchester. Our journey down to Harwich was smooth with no hold ups and we were soon parking up alongside half a dozen Ferrari’s on board.
We awoke to the sights of the Dutch coast and a message from the Captain to apologise for being 25 minutes late! Immediately on disembarking, we found ourselves driving past row upon row of glasshouses, with Mike getting very excited about the Anaerobic Digester plants and thermal storage tanks that flew by. After a short drive to our hotel for the weekend, we met up with Ed and then had a few minutes to get changed, grab our bikes and make some quick introductions to the rest of the team from Jules and Engie. Then we were off on our 100 kilometre cycle ride…
Even with a range of GPS computers amongst us, we all promptly took the wrong direction out of the Hotel car park, only to be corrected after a few kilometres. However, little did we appreciate in those first glorious minutes, that we had Holland’s answer to Chris Froome leading the way and so with a range of cycling abilities, we soon splintered, eventually meeting up at a coffee stop some 30 kilometres in. Afterwards, we cycled a ‘Mountain’ in The Netherlands, all of 4% gradient for at least 1km, followed by a race with the Jules guys to the first official food stop. Following lunch and a reorganisation of the GPS, to make sure each group could find its way back, we set off, with those in the front group averaging 21-22mph for the next hour or two. Towards the end of the ride, we got to cycle down the runway of Soesterburg an ex-US military airbase, a novel experience. Once back at the hotel, we all had a well-earned shower and enjoyed a BBQ.
Saturday dawned bright and almost sunny, however a combination of weary legs and the threat of rain the NFU Energy team opted for the 50K route. We had a great few hours cycling through some wonderful Dutch scenery, including a tough off road section through the woods, a new experience for those of us on road bikes! The weather was kind and we were soon heading back through the town of Amersfoort, stopping briefly to see Amersfoort Kamp, a Nazi concentration camp, which is now a National Monument. Getting back to the hotel by early afternoon, we had time to grab lunch and spend a few hours at the Military museum, before the 100K riders returned in time for a very enjoyable dinner together.
Sunday morning was bright and sunny, the best day of the weekend for weather, sadly the NFU Energy team had to pack up and head for the Ferry. So, we said our goodbyes and left the Jules and Engie team to cycle their 60K route. A quick drive back to Hook of Holland, past some more glasshouses. Weather was great, crossing was smooth, and journey was on-time this time. Our car deck companions on the return journey turned out to be a collection of modern and vintage Porsche 911s, very nice.
We would just like to say a big thank you to the team from Jules. It was a great weekend of cycling, sight-seeing, and good company. We thoroughly hope to be able to do it all again sometime.