Sunday, April 18, 2010

Amstel Tour

April 17, 2010 - Maastricht, NL

The Amstel Tour version is today. 9,000 riders registered within 90 minutes a few months ago when registration was briefly open. Needless to say, we did not get in but we intend to jump on the course for a bit anyway.

We rented bicycles from Orange Bike, just two blocks from our hotel The DuCasque). The guy that works there recommended their geared bikes because our destination was Van Valkenburg, about 10 miles away. The geared bikes were 3-speed city bikes, heavy and typical of the bikes that are found in the Netherlands.

We were off and on our way, although I got turned around and we ended up going the wrong direction. I figured out that something was wrong when we reached the Belgium border. Had I understood how close it was I would have planned on pedaling there anyway, so it was good that we got there by mistake.

Once we got turned around it was relatively easy to find Van Valkenburg. It’s a charming place that I’d enjoy staying in again, as was Houthem just to the west of there. The cycling in the Netherlands is great too. The roads with high car counts have separate bike lanes, and there were several roads today that were country roads with few cars.

We saw the Amstel Tour Version at several locations and joined the riders on a climb from Van Valkenburg to Sibbe. We were headed the wrong way and needed to correct our course, and it just happened to be on the Amstel Tour Version course. All of the bikes on the tour were high-end road bikes, with the exception of a few mountain bikes. We stuck out with our city bikes, urban cycling attire and no helmets. It was especially fun to pass a number of riders, sometimes while taking photos, as I made the climb on that heavy bikes. I got a number of looks from those that I passed, plus some cheers (in Dutch) from three women who were watching the ride from their lawn. It was a good time, and the weather was perfect (sunny, probably 70 degrees F.


Blogger Kurt Klussendorf said...

this was a cyclosportif? I'll have to hear more!

1:06 PM  

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