The organization of TOUR Transalp decided not to take any risk regarding the coronavirus and decided to move the event from 20 to 26 June to 26 to 2 October. For us as Team CycloWorld this was a big disappointment. We had to decide if we would still be able and willing to ride this beautiful stage race at the end of September. After brief consideration, the answer was positive. The planning was changed. The training camp that was planned for the Ascension weekend went ahead anyway. After a whole winter and spring of Zwift, we were ready for a few days outside on the bike.
The goal of the training camp was to train the body to be on the bike for several days at a time and to recover properly in between. The TOUR Transalp is a 7-day stage race without rest days. To perform optimally, it is therefore very important to be able to recover well. A second requirement is to have a good endurance. At least 5 hours on the bike, riding as hard as possible without going into the red. The race also includes a lot of climbing. I wanted to test my new climbing wheels. To combine all this, we decided to ride to Limburg and spend the night in a hotel on top of the Schweiberg. The next day we would ride around the hills of Limburg and then the next day we would cycle back home, almost 600 km in 4 days time. This also meant that we had to use our road bikes as pack mules in order to be able to carry some luggage. Fortunately, a cyclist friend lent me some of those hip bike packing bags. This was also a good opportunity to gain experience with this new fad. More about this later.
Laren - Elst 90 km. At 14:00 I get on my bike. I have attached a saddle bag, frame bag and a toptube bag from Apidura. I have to ride 90 km to the east, by buddy Andries is riding towards me so that we're both heading in the same distance. The weather is fine, not too hot not too cold and a south-southwest wind. My legs feel good and I can keep going while staying in the aerobic zone. At Barneveld we almost miss each other but of course it's all right and we continue together to Elst. I am treated to the usual nutritious pasta meal. Then early to bed. The planning is to be on the bike at 08:00 the next day for the second stage.
Elst - Schweiberg 179 km. After a decent breakfast of oatmeal, coffee and a home-made filled cake, we get on our bikes at 08:30. The weather looks unstable. I decide to ride short-sleeves anyway. The first few kilometers are a little chilly but within half an hour I have warmed up and it is fine cycling weather. Andries has mapped out a beautiful route. At Nijmegen we cross the Rhine and via Beek and Groesbeek we drive to Gennep where we follow the river Maas to the south. Lovely meandering through the landscape we drive through rustic villages. The first two hours we ride side by side chatting happily but then I start to feel the legs and I crawl in the wheel of Andries. Past Venlo we are over halfway and we take a short coffee break with Limburg flan in the village of Kessel. In the sun it is lovely to sit on the terrace. With new energy we ride on and just past Roermond we go more to the east of the Meuse and take a small piece of Germany. 10 km before we arrive at the foot of the Schweiberg it starts to rain. The whole day we've seen threatening skies but we were lucky. We take shelter at a gas station but after 5 minutes we get cold and decide to put on our raincoats and ride the last kilometers through the rain.
Schweiberg - Schweiberg 120 km. We have breakfast in the hotel room because of the corona restrictions. Today we've planned a round trip of about 135 km through the hills of Limburg. It is a bit more cloudy than yesterday and it also feels a bit cooler. So I decide to ride with arm and leg warmers. The first few kilometers my right knee feels a little stiff, knowing that my old body always has to get going in the morning I don't pay too much attention to it. We descend the Schweiberg on the other side from where we came and because we take a wrong turn a few kilometers further we climb the Schweiberg again on the side where we came up yesterday. Next, we head towards Teuven and take the climb to the Bovenste bos. From there we go to the Camerig, the longest climb of the day.
Via the Schutteberg we ride to the Drielandenpunt. We descend towards Vaals. Of course we take the Gulperberg. My knee is starting to hurt again, the attachment of the muscle on the inside hurts when climbing. We take the Kruisberg and the Eyserbosweg, 2 nice steep climbs in a row. We climb the Hulsberg and then head towards Stokhem where we start the climb of the Doodeman. The Doodeman and the Keutenberg climb to the same summit, yet the former is completely unknown. The Doodeman is a lot harder. We continue to Vilt where it is time for a coffee break. My knee has not improved. After the coffee I decide to take the shortest way to the hotel on top of the Geulhemmerberg in order not to strain my knee further. Andries finishes the planned route. After I have showered I inspect my cleats to see if the right one is not in the right position but there seems to be nothing wrong with it. In the end, I conclude that the day before I unconsciously started cycling slightly wide-legged because of the frame bag, which caused the inner thigh muscle to strain. At dinner we decide that, if the pain in my knee is not over by tomorrow, I will take the train from Maastricht back home. This is to prevent further strain on the knee with the risk of not being able to ride for a long time.
Schweiberg - Maastricht 23 km. After breakfast we get on our bikes, it's drizzling so we put on the rainwear. After a few kilometers I feel that the knee is not yet recovered so we ride to Maastricht where I get on the train home. Andries goes home by bike.