After a few jokes with my coworkers about the crazy idea of spending 200km on a mountainbike during a day in December with unpredictable (probably bad!) weather, I competed in a competition to make chance on one of the last 10 entries into the race. Last week I got an e-mail from the organisers: “you’re in and have to prepare for at least 14 hours of cycling in unpredictable conditions!” Challenge accepted 🙂 There are 400 participants, I have set the goal of finishing within the top 50!
The Drenthe 200 is an ultra marathon for mountainbike, fatbike or cyclecross bike. And yes, you will experience 200 ultra-tough, but very beautiful kilometers running underneath your wheels.
So the first thing I had to take care of was getting a new mountainbike so this weekend I went to the Giant store in Utrecht and came home with this beauty: a Giant XTC Advanced 29er
Luckily I was able to get a good price since this is a model from last years Giant’s range of cross-country mountainbikes. Big wheels and adjustable front suspension so once I have gained speed this bike keeps on going! That same afternoon I went out to test the bike at the closest track in the neighbourhoud for a 3 hour ride in the dark and rainy autumn weather we currently have in the Netherlands:
It will be a big challenge to get used to a much more active way of riding a bike compared to the road cycling I did this summer. Spending 12-16 hours on a bike and maintaining energy levels will not be the most challenging part of this goal, because it is mostly a mental thing once your body is fit enough. The upcoming month I have to prepare for a lot of unusual pains due to the heavy movements and bumping across the track. Let’s think about what they say “No pain, no gain”!
The other challenging will be dealing with all kinds of possible weather scenario’s so I will be prepared for the worst: heavy rain, temperatures around 0 degrees celsius and fierce winds from the north. To be able to deal with these kind of weather conditions I have made sure my equipments is suitable.
To make 100% sure my feet don’t get cold, I’ve bought myself a pair of Northwave Celsius 2 GTX Mountainbike shoes:
Second to that, my hands need to stay warm under every condition, so for dry conditions I’ll use standard gloves from Pearl Izumi, for wet and cold conditions I’ve bought the Shimano Windbreak All Condition gloves which can handle all worst case scenarios:
Since we start around 06:00 in the morning, we have to start in the dark and will ride the first few hours without any sunlight! Sun goes down around 16:00 so we will finish in the dark too, resulting in at least riding 6 hours in the dark. Normal bike lights won’t be enough to help me through the woods and I need to make sure I don’t have to carry huge amounts of traditional batteries with me. The organisation is clear about the rules: if your lights don’t work, you’ll be taken out of the race. So I found a good solution, using USB rechargable head (Sigma Sport Sportster) and rear lights (Topeak RedLite Aero USB ) so during the day I can use two Urabn Revolt powerbanks to charge my lights and my Garmin 810 GPS system. Hopefully I have some good weather this weekend so I can test them in the woods.
For the clothing I’ll be dressed with a classic three layer system, Craft underlayer, normal racing jacket and a cold temperatures jacket. A standard Pearl Izumi BIB short and extra full long sleeve on top of it. When it’s raining I’ll have a thin raining jacket in my backpack, but I’m not a fan of it since it doesn’t allow moisture to go out. Since my body is generating quite some heat and sweat, a raining jacket is not my most favourable choice. At the checkpoint half way I’ll drop a spare BIB short if I want to change into a dry one if needed.
The upcoming weeks I’ll try to make a least 15 hours a week on the road and mountainbike and at least 1 +4 hour ride in the weekend to make sure I’ll be in shape at the end of December. During week 51 I’ll be spending my days on Tenerife, climbing El Teide and make sure my fitness levels will go through the roof 🙂