Return to site

RATN Day 3

Pieterburen to Hoorn - 320km

So many sheep.

I passed Time Point 4 at 04:56, legs feeling good. Sunrise on my back at first, and then moving around to warm my left side as the route turned from West to South.

100km of coastal sheep track and single-street villages, then a breakfast stop in the beautiful harbour town of Harlingen.

broken image


At the Albert Heijn supermarket I bought ingredients for half a dozen ham and cheese rolls, which I stuffed into my jersey pockets for later. I made several return visits to the free coffee machine.

I'm familiar with receiving odd looks as I pillage a supermarket during a long rides, but the people of Harlingen seemed to be staring at me especially quizzically. Using my sunglasses as a mirror, I realised my face was streaked with long salty tracks, which peeled like string from my nose, cheeks, and beard.

broken image

I caught up with Jamie and Kev again at an open bridge, and went ahead of them on a monotonous straightaway between windmills and water. A never-ending headwind. A dead-straight path down the length of an artificial landmass that had been built from the sea.

Finally a turn in the road, then the town of Almere, and a kick of motivation from reaching proper land. The roads became familiar - the route of my old after-work 30km spin out to Maarken from when I lived in Amsterdam several years ago. The long, wide straight that's like an airport runway leading into the city from the south-east. New neighbourhoods had been dredged and founded and stacked, and yet somehow felt like they'd been there all along.

Outside MadMen Bicycle Cafe I met Wybren #97 again for the third time in as many days.

broken image

Wybren outside Madmen Bicycles, Amsterdam

Inside the shop I met the owner, Stefan 'Fish' Vis, who I used to know back when I lived here. Stefan is an excellent mechanic, a former bike messenger, bus driver, and track champion, who once beat Sir Chris Hoy around a velodrome. He's also an all-round excellent guy.

In his shop, Madmen Cycles, I had a can of Coke and a stack of stroopwaffles. Another racer was sitting on the sofa.His knees were angry and inflamed, and he told me he was considering scratching.

I suggested that he got a hotel for the night and slept on it before making the decision to quit.

He shook his head.

His heart was no longer in it.

He started checking his phone for train times back to Amerongen.

broken image

Calling it a day

Heading northwards felt like going uphill, not least because ultimately my destination for the race lay behind me in the south. This bit felt like a pointless dogleg, and the weather was closing in. The narrow paths through the polders held memories of hazy evening rides with the Amsterdam fixed gear crew. Today they were brooding and wind-swept, connecting cobbled villages where coach-loads of tourists were buying clogs and blocks of cheese.

A purple storm filled the horizon, and I was riding straight towards it. When the rain came it didn't build up from a gentle shower; it just came on like a torrent and within moments I was drenched.

An hour later, I squelched into the Burger King in Hoorn like a man half-drowned. I left a trail of wet footprints and tyre tracks across the black and white floor-tiles. I didn't even ask about bringing the bike inside - just leaned it against my table. Then I began peeling off wet clothes and draping them across radiators.

I ordered enough food to feed a family.

Food log, 20:47:

1 x Double Whopper with bacon and cheese

Large fries, Large Sprite

4 x Cheeseburger

12 x Chicken strips

6 x Chilli cheese bites

1 x tin of Heinekken


I was cold and tired, messing with wet kit and the contents of my pockets, and at some point somebody stole €100 cash from right there under my nose.

It took me a while to notice what had happened, and by the time I did the thief was long gone. I was furious, berating myself for such a stupid mistake. What an idiot! What a waste! In an instant I was tense and frustrated, which felt unfamiliar after three solid days in the calm zone of cycling.

Noticing my reaction helped me realise that I had a choice: either I could pay once for my mistake (which I had done already) or I could continue to pay again, several times over, by continuing to stress about it.

I'd always known that the race would contain obstacles - things outside of my control that I would just have to deal with. That's part of the attraction of this kind of racing. I reasoned that this was just another such obstacle, like a flat tyre or a broken spoke. Shit happens. I couldn't control the loss or get back the money. The only thing I could control was how I chose to deal with it.

In the nick of time, the serve came over with my tray (s) of food.

broken image

When you order so much BK that you need two trays...

Before the rainstorm I'd been hoping to keep going tonight beyond Hoorn, but over my burgers I decided it made more sense to get dry and warm, and make an earlier start tomorrow to try and beat the wind to the coast.

The choice of accommodation in Hoorn turned out to be fairly limited, but I found a room in an old prison that had been converted into a hotel. The receptionist led me down to the basement and along the dimly lit corridor to my cell.

broken image

Locked up for the night

I turned the radiator up to the highest setting and used Miles as a drying rack for all my wet clothes.

320km for the day - a new PB for longest ride in a single day. 900km in three days. Not quite half way through the race.


Time to sleep for a few hours, and then do it all over again.

320km for the day - a new PB for longest ride in a single day. 900km in three days. Not quite half way through the race.

Time to sleep for a few hours, and then do it all over again.

broken image