Ever since my brother and I picked up my bike at Canyon one of the goals was to ride a metric century before the end of the year. I've been reading all about these epic rides and despite the advice from every single blogger not to ride 100 KM as a beginner I decided to be a rebel and follow my gut feeling.
Hills, hills, hills
I planned a route in Strava and rode it virtually in Google maps a few times to see what was ahead of me. The route gave me 1.024 m elevation gain, so a good preparation was half the ride! Climbing would start after 10K, and the highest point would be around the 43K mark (289m). I've been cycling around the hills the last couple of weeks so I had an indicator of how hard it would be. My biggest fear was the climb of the Epenerbaan which is the descent of the Camerig, the hardest hill to climb in the Netherlands. Besides the Epenerbaan I had to conquer the Korte Raarberg, the Bergseweg, the Eperheide, and the Piemert. After the Piemert (basically halfway) it would be downhill to Maastricht. My last 20K would take me alongside the canal which I've been cycling weekly now.
The best rides are the ones where you bite off more than you can chew, and live through it – Doug Bradbury
The temperature wasn't too bad when I started this morning: around 5 degrees Celsius. The first test was the 'Korte Raar.' A steep little hill leading up to it's bigger brother the 'Lange Raar.' The steepest part is around 11%, and it wasn't too bad. Plenty of time to recuperate before the next hill: the Bergseweg. I followed the advice of my colleague: ride your own pace. Smallest sprocket and comfortably keeping a cadence you can hold for some time.
Don't blow up!
Trying no to blow up. This is actually what I did the whole ride. After the Bergseweg I followed the road to Trintelen, and from there you fly to Eys. After Eys, it's the zwartebrugweg. A steep little fucker. Took a few minutes off on top of the plateau with a beautiful view! From here it's 10 km to Vaals which is uphill all the way. Not too bad though as it never gets too difficult. In Vaals I took a right past the police station. First, it's downhill pretty fast until you get to the bottom of the Epenerbaan.
I thought this one was going to be hard but overall pretty much doable. Don't get me wrong, the part before and after the hairpin is brutal but short of a distance. Before you know it, you will begin the descent of the Camerig to Epen.
In Epen I had a short stop to refuel at the local supermarket just at the base of the Julianastraat climb to Heijenrath. After Heijenrath there is just one more climb to Hoogcruts, and that was all the climbing I had to do for today. The wind was picking up, and I had to hold on to my bike going downhill as the wind gusts nearly knocked me off my bike. After arriving in Eijsden, I finally had a tailwind bringing me in no time to Maastricht.
A metric century: almost done
Right before Maastricht, my legs felt they were mash... I had been on the bike for 4 hours, and the saddle was giving me some discomfort. Once I was on the Kennedy bridge, I either could continue for another hour or go straight home. I decided to give it a shot and headed towards Kanne, Belgium. I instantly had a fierce headwind again and regretted my decision. I turned around and headed home. I knew the last 10K would be a struggle and not worth it.
I still had an excellent ride, and now I know what I'm into when trying to ride a metric century.