Sunday, April 18, 2010

Amstel Race

April 18, 2010.

Today is the Amstel-Gold race, a one day spring classic that starts in Maastricht and ends in nearby Van Valkenburg. The race started at the Markt, just 2 blocks from our hotel. We carried out our plan of watching the riders start in Maastricht and then renting bikes and catching the race again out on the course.

The Markt Square was impressive, was full of people. Only one vendor was selling bike schwag, and I bought a miniature set of bikes with the Garmin logo for 5,50 Euros. We watched the introductions and sign ins, which was cool. Obviously the Dutch riders got the most applause and spoke the most during the pre-race festivities.

The weather today was even better than yesterday. Clear sunny skies, despite the volcanic activity in Iceland that poses a threat to our return flight. It had to top out at 75 degrees (F) or more, we regret not buying sunscreen.

We returned to Orange Bike in the hopes of renting the same steeds that we had on Saturday. All of those, the better bikes, we reserved. We settled for heavy three-speed bikes, but they worked for our needs. We headed out of the shop at 11:15AM and didn’t return until 4:00PM.

Out on the course we saw the race three more times. After the Maastricht start we pedaled to and saw the race at Sibbe, Berg and Bemelen. We met a nice couple at the Berg race point and chatted for about 15 minutes with them. They are at the end of a video that I will upload to You-Tube and link here when I get home. He was the one that pointed us to Bemelen, through a cycle and pedestrian-only road that only that started as on pavement, then turned to dirt, then became a downhill trail (2 meters wide) that Kay and Diane elected to walk down. It was a 4km pedal from Berg to Bemelen. We waited less than 5 minutes for the race to go through, and chatted with the British blokes. The riders went through exceptionally fast as that is where an 11% grade began.

After the race went through we pedaled on the same route as the race the 7km back to Maastricht. Diane fell behind a bit and we waited. One of the British blokes said that our “friend got a bit wobbly back there in the traffic, but she’s alright.” Kind of cool, nice of him to let us know. Diane rolled up about 30 seconds later. There was a lot of bike traffic of all ages headed back to Maastricht, and just a few cars (maybe 5% of the traffic at that point).

I will upload pictures and links to some cool videos later.


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