The Spring classics are well underway. Paris – Roubaix a week ago was the last of the Cobbled Classics for 2013. The Brabantse Pijl race two days ago marks the transition from the races featuring short sharp climbs on cobbles to the longer paved climbs of the Ardennes Classics. This weekend will see the 48th running of the Amstel Gold Race.
A group of my Not Possibles friends are again riding in the tour version of the Amstel Gold this year. I rode the 2012 version with them. We had a lot of fun, despite the cold and sometimes wet day.
We had an 8.25 am start from the Amstel Gold Xperience building in Valkenburg. I am a tropical boy. I was bundled up. Uffe is Danish. He saw no need for a beanie hat, long-fingered gloves, a jacket, leggings and shoe covers.
We chose the 150km / 93mi route, with about 2,400 meters / 7,900 feet of climbing. I remember the steep ones. The Keutenberg has a maximum pitch of 17%. As does the Gulpenerberg. The Eyserbosweg has a maximum pitch of 15%. Compared to those walls, the likes of the Loorberg at 8% and the Bemelerberg at 7% maximum pitch were mere speed bumps.
Richard and I were on the Fromberg about seven hours after we started. At 9% maximum this was a warm-up for the big one to come.
Which rose up before us fifteen minutes later in the form of the Keutenberg.
Richard and I got to the finish exactly eight hours after we started. Just in time to collect our finisher’s medals and get back to our hotels before it started to rain again.
Richard had driven from his hotel to Valkenberg. So he went to retrieve his car from the field where he had left it. I had ridden from my hotel to the start.
Which I regretted when the heavens opened on the ride back to the hotel. I got lost to boot, so I was soaked to the skin by the time I found my way back to the Golden Tulip Apple Park Maastricht hotel. The locals must be used to that sort of weather. The staff at the front desk didn’t bat an eye as I dripped across the lobby and into the lift. With my filthy bike.
I would do it all again in a heartbeat.