Old bastard on an old bike
(It all depends on what you wear)
Acht van Chaam 2008, had enough beer to talk louder, while watching the amateurs (elite without contract these days) race on the other side of the barricades, I yell out loud in the empty space of a noisy bar:"You guys just wait, I'll be back next year!" No reaction from anyone in or outside the pub.
Now and then some running and iceskating is all fun, but it's not cycling. So just in time to save WV Terheijden from ending their membership with the KNWU (national federation) I got myself another cycling license in 2009 as an elite men. (This was the easy part, all you have to do is apply and pay for one.) Then the training rides start at Moleneind Breda. Every week my form seems to improve a tiny little bit, with a 9th place on an extremely slippery circuit in Made as the first real result. The slippery corners have to take more credit for this then my form. Starting at the front and staying on the bike was the main thing, although riding home after celebrating the 9th place in de Korenbeurs I didn't completely succeed in staying on the bike...
The form is improving step by step and of course I'm trying to aim for my best possible shape in the end of july, beginning of august. Philippine is the first race I'm actually in contention for the win and in fact I end up in third place, on the podium! It feels great, but winning a race is a different league again. The feeling that everyone wants to cross that line first, but you're the one that does it.
Acht van Chaam 2009, the weather is really good, always helps for someone that loves the nice weather like me. Not that much wind, but just windy enough. The field will split up today. Just when? I think soon, but you never know. I start near the front, but after the always dangerous neutral bit (how much I hate that part of the race) there's hardly anyone behind me. During the second lap I move up towards the front of the bunch, the legs are not bad at all. There is a three men breakaway up the road, why is no one chasing? I jump across, no one in my wheel, that's how I like it, the rest has to do their own chasing. Some time later there's nine of us in the break. A big gap behind us, this should be it! Half the village of Terheijden is in Chaam and they're going completely crazy, just because their old barkeeper is in the break in the Acht van Chaam. But the break is not working together as it should. I'm trying to get everyone to do their share, but some of the riders are dreaming of the final sprint way too early. My friend Stef van Zundert hands out spare bidons (I don't mis one!) on his socks (his cycling shoes are next to his bike on the side of the road) and he can tell I'm feeling good. A small group gets back to us and going into the final 4 km lap another group. About 27 of us go into the last lap together. Today there won't be 27 of us sprinting for the win, some guys will get away in the last lap and I'm sure I'm one of them. Halfway the final lap the tall guy (Marien Wallink) attacks who I bridged a gap with earlier in the race. And? Nobody? I must go now! Alone of course! The 13 sprocket rolls around quickly and easy here in the headwind. "Come on, get on!" We turn left, last corner, but stil 2 km to go, we have a nice gap. Tailwind now, he does a good turn, now me again, as hard as I can go, if they are going to catch us they will have to work hard. I can see a group of 4 chasing, too bad, they won't give up. The roundabout, about 1 km to go, one big turn to the council house and they won't catch us anymore. 500 meter to go, what now? He's not coming through? It can't be true? Damn it, he must do one more turn, the pack of wolves is getting closer by the second. I scream:"Come on, we'll get 1rst and 2nd!", but I think:"we're blowing it, so close to the finish." He does come through now, I feel a relief. He speeds up for the sprint, but not in full sprint yet. 200 meter to go, now everything I got, I got you! I feel nothing, not my legs, is this me? spinning as fast as possible on the 12, but where is the rest, where is the finish, I can't, not possible. Impossible, the line! I win the Acht van Chaam!
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