Friday, June 25, 2010

checking out by checking in...

No training rides or tweeks to the bike this weekend - I'm going to a conference in the USA. Hopefully I'm back just in time to catch the prologue of the Tour de France.
My predictions are:
prologue: Cancellara, with a nice first week in yellow thanks to the cobbles in stage 3.
yellow: Contador
green: Hushovd
white: Gesink (hup Robert!)
polkadots: if he's selected, John Gadret.

see you next week!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Prophet

"Os golos são como o ketchup, quando aparecem vêm todos de uma vez" Cristiano Ronaldo on June 13th...boy was he right ;-)

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Somedays you really know you're going to miss Portugal. Today was one of those. When you know the weather in Holland is shitty (as my girlfriend Ana reported) while Portugal is sunny and you're riding in summer kit through some stunning hilly terrain. On the list of things to do before I leave was ride the Serra da Arrábida - a hill that is visible in the distance to the south of Lisbon and that I stupidly hadn't cycled before because I thought crossing the Tejo would involve taking a train. But no - this morning I set of for a short ride to Terreiro de Paço, Lisbon's main square on the waterfront, where I took the high-speed ferry to Barreiro. From there I rode to Setúbal, had coffee and a queque (cake - sometime Portuguese is stunningly simple), and then climbed the Arrábida ridge from the NE side. A beautiful climb with rewarding views all the way. Stupidly enough I had left the camera's memory card in my laptop so I could only take a few pictures. After descending the ridge the reward would be lunch at the waterfront in Sesimbra, but the route I planned appeared to include a dirt road so I had to divert...and then, just before Sesimbra I bonked, the price you pay when you're too lazy to prepare a big breakfast in the morning. Fortunately a mueslibar sustained me over the last km and a scary descent into Sesimbra for a sardine salad at the waterfront. The climb out of Sesimbra proved as hard as I thought it would be but fortunately it was short. Back to Barreiro, last 15 k or so with a strong headwind (that is what you get for starting late). Another boatride, and then a relaxed pedal home. Feeling spent after a little over 100 k, and given yesterday's tt efforts a good indication that a daily average of 100 is a realistic aim.
Terreiro do Paço seen from the ferry - a pretty impressive entry for visitors to Lisbon who arrive by boat (and that used to be nearly everyone)

Halfway up the climb - in the distance on the left is Setúbal, and on the right is the Tróia peninsula

...and on top. Beaches, the ocean and Portugal stretching into the distance.

And now for some cycling unrelated stuff: my brother Bart just returned from a weekend playing at the Oerol festival with his band 'de Hûnekop'. Check out their new video here - even if you don't speak Frisian (a language spoken in the province of Friesland, in the north of the country) I'm sure you'll get an idea what the song is about.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

a hole in the middle...

Waking up at 7 on a saturday morning is hard - until you realize ride! This morning it turned out to be just Sergi(nh)o, Helder and myself. A short ride but with lots of wind on Guincho beach and some hard time trial efforts by the triathletes who dropped me...the post-ride pastel de nata was welcome. After lunch and the Holland-Japan world cup game (it's the result that counts!) I went back to the bike shop to pick up some goodies and discuss packing options with Julio, best bike mechanic in the world ;-) Initially I was planning to ride with a backpack but Julio talked me out of it, telling me I should opt for an aluminium seatpost and a Topeak carrier system. This would keep my back free - something I think will indeed be much more comfortable. As long as my bike can handle the weight...but it should be okay as the same bike can be ridden by people in a completely different weight class than me.
The bike I will be riding is not the red one that features on some of the pics in this blog. The red bike is my first road bike, 'the old Bianchi', a Bianchi Gold race team purchased in 2002 in Oxford and which I ride when I am in Holland. Not a gram of carbon and Campy Mirage 9-speed. The bike I will ride to Holland is 'Scotty', a 2008 Scott CR1 team bought at Lusobike. It is pictured below and has been slightly modified from when I bought it: all components are stock Shimano 105 (compact crankset), but the pedals are Ultegra, the wheels I upgraded thanks to Sinterklaas to HED Ardennes (very very very nice), and I just purchased a new saddle, a Prologo Nago PAS gel. Like the previous saddle, which was a bit too worn out to take for a 2500+k ride, it has a hole in the middle to relieve sensitive body parts, but this one is white so it looks more pro ;-). The fact that the saddle has gel makes the manufacturer state that it is for fitness rather than performance use which of course is a bit of a bummer (click on the video and you may or may not understand). But then again: another adjustment that still needs to be made is changing the cassette from 12-25 to 12-27 to allow for a mercy gear in the mountains - that's definitely fitness level!
I also picked up a multitool with a chain tool that I hope I won't be needing and ordered some baselayers and an extra bibshort. I will be riding in yellow as the sponsored shirts come in one colour only - many thanks to Julio, Pedro and Sergio at Lusobike - best bike shop in Portugal!!!
the hole in the middle...
the shirt...(and I have a spare one too) will take a little while before the WBR stickers can be ironed onto it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Portuguese customs close yet so far away. Today I received a package with promotional material from World Bicycle Relief - cards to hand out, stickers to adorn my backpack, waterbottles and socks. To ensure speedy delivery it was shipped by UPS. This alerted the Portuguese customs, who have deemed it reasonable to charge 78 euro (of which 51 euro for paperwork) for the receipt of the package. No way! I guess I have to go to the USA to collect the package in person ;-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A note to all Dutch readers... has come to my attention that some of you interpret the charity mentioned on the website as something from which I would benefit (ie in paying for costs associated to the trip or so). If you didn't - fine. If you did you are a bit of an idiot, and displaying a less attractive side of our national character (no, not this one) to the non-Dutch readers of this blog. World Bicycle Relief is a bona fide charity that aims to empower people in the 3rd world by giving them bicycles and training to repair and maintain the bicycles. This helps people to commute, go to school, bring merchandise to the market etc...If you want to know more move away from my sponsor page to the other webpages of WBR to learn more. The amount I aim to raise would pay for ten bikes - which seems a nice and feasible goal.

By the way - for all those who asked - expected start date and time is Sunday, August 8 at 8.30 am. Ideally as a group ride from the Estadio Nacional at Jamor...

Sunday, June 13, 2010


In order to make the trip, preparations have to be made. To navigate from Portugal to Holland I will be using maps but also my bike-tomtom, a Garmin Edge705. Some time ago Antonio from Loja do GPS upgraded my Edge with extra memory and a map for Europe rather than Portugal alone. Using web-based mapping software, I can plan a route and download it to my Edge which will tell me where to go…but I’ve already found out that a map is essential because the routes the Edge dictates when you haven’t planned anything, may not always be the best way to get somewhere by bike.
To test the Edge out of Portugal, and to train a bit more, I went to Holland last weekend to cycle Limburgs Mooiste with friends – a 150 km cyclo with 2000+ climbing meters in the hills of southern Holland, Germany and Belgium. A wonderful ride, with beautiful weather. During the day I cycled together with my friend Jeroen, who lives in Switzerland, and Rutger. Jeroen trashed me on every single hill bar one where he had a mechanical. Sobering. But the map worked fine ;-)

1st photo:
myself, Rutger, Jeroen (left to right) on the Vetschauerberg

2nd photo:
after the ride, with Victor, Twan and Jeroen: Broeva! Haro!

To follow up, this weekend I did a sprint-triathlon in Oeiras. After the swim it was quite obvious that I should not try to swim to Holland – cycling is obviously more my thing…