Last year CycloWorld was already lyrical about the Strade Bianche Achterhoek. And also in 2021 we were not disappointed.
And that was largerly due to the perfect weather conditions. Early in the morning at the start, the temperature was already fine, and in the course of the day a few degrees were added. Moreover, the sun came out and there was also very little wind.
At the start in the open-air theater in Lochem everything is perfectly arranged. A spacious parking lot, coffee and cake, a quick scan & go registration and enough racks for your bike. In other words, you are on your way in no time. Together with 3 cycling mates, we rode the 150 km version, furthermore there was also the possibility to ride 110 or 65 km. For those who wanted to, they could pitch their tent for a democratic price at the nearby field hockey club.
The organization had divided the 1000 participants into time slots per distance, so there was hardly any traffic at the start.
Thanks to the dry weather in recent weeks, the course was good. Maybe a little bit on the dry side, sometimes loose sand required some technique and especially effort. But that challenge was what made it fun.
Like last year, the diversity of surfaces was huge. Sandy roads, single tracks, duo tracks, cart tracks, shell paths, hard pack gravel and even a meadow came under the wheels. And of course asphalt. Maybe a little too much for our taste, but it is necessary to connect the different gravel sections. What was noticeable was that a little more gravel racers participated than last year. The ratio gravel bike/MTB was about 60/40.
Our group left without a clear plan, but in the end we had a good pace. With an average of little over 30 we reached the finish 5 hours later. Along the way there were no less than 4 feed stations with plenty of goodies to choose from (the locally made cinnamon cake was our favorite). All stops were set up as flow locations so there was no congestion.
Once back in the open-air theater, there was more than enough opportunity for a pleasant after-party, with beer, hamburgers, a band and a big screen showing the World Cup cycling. Are there no points for improvement at all? Yes: there was a considerable waiting time for ordering drinks. Perhaps the organization had not counted on such good weather.
The aftertaste: perfectly organized, great atmosphere and a beautiful course. A must-do for every gravel rider.