I did my first organised ride in the Netherlands in early March 2011. The Witte Kruis (White Cross) Classic was a 100 km clockwise loop through South Holland. Much of the route covered new ground for me. I had ridden to Kijkduin and Meijendel but my wheels had yet to traverse points further east like Benthuizen and south like Oud Verlaat and Schipluiden. I had yet to find any cycling buddies in Den Haag so I rolled up to the start by myself. I had done a number of organised rides in Texas so I had a preconceived idea of what this ride would be like.
Things were different right from the get-go. We were all given timing chips to mount on our front forks. For many participants this wasn’t just a jaunt through the countryside.
The Dutch idea of a supported ride turned out to be a bit different from what I had experienced in Texas. I had come to expect lots of people giving directions along the route, or at the very least, large signs. This is what we had to guide us during the Witte Kruis Classic.
All was well until I had a puncture after about 60 km. Everyone else in the group I had tagged onto kept riding. Once back in the saddle I could see one rider ahead of me in the distance. I put my head down and started chasing. 5 km later I caught up to a group of five riders. We were at a T-junction in Terbregge. With nary a tiny painted arrow on the road in sight.
We knew that we were about 6 km from the rest stop. Between us we managed to figure out which way to head and after a couple of kilometers we picked up the white arrows pointing us toward the rest stop at the RWC Ahoy.
Which brings me to my next supported ride, Dutch style, surprise. I don’t recall having ridden more than about 35 km / 20 mi before coming upon a rest stop on my Texan rides. The one and only rest stop during the Witte Kruis Classic was at the 55 km / 34 mi point.
The location of the rest stop was an eye opener in itself. We were on the premises of the Rotterdam Wielrennen Club Ahoy. Not only does the RWC Ahoy have a nice clubhouse . . .
but it also has its own racetrack.
There was a race in progress, complete with electronic timing board and race announcer. This was my first glimpse of the serious side of Dutch amateur cycling.
After a much-needed drink, some food and a comfort break I set out off again to the roar of aircraft landing and taking off from the adjacent Rotterdam The Hague Airport.
At the 85 km mark there was a three kilometer timed sprint. I had forgotten about that little feature of the ride. Not that I was in any state to ride any faster at that point. All I wanted to do by then was to just finish.
This photograph was taken in the dunes south of Kijkduin. Before I realised that the ride was 10 km longer than advertised.
I did not enjoy the last 10 km to the finish. Especially knowing that I had a further 8 km to get home, having cycled to the start.
I felt a lot better after a shower and lunch. I did like the ride, despite being on my own and those extra kilometers. I now knew what to expect on my next organised ride, which was the Joop Zoetemelk Classic the following weekend. In addition to windmills that is!