"Never again, remember very well, we are never going to do this again." This mantra repeated endlessly in my head. Three years ago somewhere in Switzerland on a mountain with no name. We had just left that beautiful flat road by Lake Zurich and the route chased us up quickly. Compare it to Muro di Sormano, followed by the Cipressa. Why would you do easy when you can do hard? Because this is The Ride, simple. A serious challenge where suffering and enjoyment go hand in hand. And so it can happen that on June 5 I will be at the start again. This time not in Prato, but in Bédoin. Hoping for a more cheerful mantra.
You get on the bus at the Cauberg on Friday morning and ride with about 250 fellow cyclists to Bédoin. That will take, say, about 14 hours. Then on Saturday you stare at the top of the bare mountain and feel the adrenaline level in your body rise. Adrenaline, that substance you need in fight-or-flight mode. It's too late to flee, so you have to fight. In eight stages you're riding back to the Cauberg. The bar is high, but for those who have trained well, it is a wonderful adventure. Those who finish The Ride will forever cycle up the Vaalserberg with a very special feeling. Coming home to the Drielandenpunt.
In 2016 the first edition of The Ride took place, then still from the Stelvio. In eight days cycling through eight countries back to Valkenburg. After four years Stelvio (2020 was canceled by covid) was started in 2021 from the Madeleine and this year is the turn of the Ventoux. As a participant you immerse yourself in an eat-sleep-cycle bubble. Where eating, cycling and sleeping are practically the only things you have to do yourself. You ride from campsite to campsite where your luggage is transported, your tent set up, your food cooked, your legs massaged and your bike repaired if necessary. Motards check the route every day and are never far away to provide assistance. Race director Carlo van Nistelrooy lovingly shouts at everyone, hanging out of the window of his race car, to go up in person. Along the way there are two daily refreshment stations. All are staffed by volunteers. With the passing of the week their hero status grows among the participants.
Route builder Gijs Bruinsma has made sure that you get maximum 'bang for your buck'. The route is finger licking. A little preview:
Sunday, 5 June:
Bédoin - Veynes via Mont Ventoux, Col de l'Homme Mort, Col de St Jean (2940m+, 134km)
Monday, 6 June:
Veynes - Bourg d'Oisans via Col du Festre, Col de Parquetout, Col d'Ornon, Alpe d'Huez (3590m+, 134 km)
Tuesday, June 7:
Bourg d'Oisans - Lake Annecy via Col du Glandon, Col de Tamié (2630m+, 133 km)
Wednesday, 8 June:
Lake Annecy- Ornans via La Combe de Sillingy, Col de la Croix de la Serra, Tabagnoz, Lac de Bellefontaine (2810m+, 210 km)
Thursday, June 9:
Ornans - Xonrupt-Longmer via the Ballon d'Alsace, Col du Page, Col de Bramont, Col des Feignes (3440m+, 186 km)
Friday, 10 June:
Xonrupt-Longmer - Corny sur Moselle, a 163km/4,07hm+ transition stage
Saturday 11 June:
Corny sur Moselle - La Roche en Ardenne via Tellancourt, Bombois, Rue de Stocquet, Beaulieu (1950m+, 177 km)
Sunday, 12 June:
La Roche en Ardenne - Valkenburg via Côte de Beffe, Le Rosier, Côte de Surister, Côte des Trois Frontières, Cauberg (1940m+, 142 km)
Apart from any detours, the entire route amounts to almost 1300 kilometers and over 20,000 metres of climbing. Guy Moritz from team CycloWorld will also take on this challenge. A review will follow as soon as the energy level has been restored. We're looking forward to it!