Today's nostalgia post is from 2009 and from the land of cheese, Heineken and tall people.... Holland!
The Assen 24hr in Assen, Holland. 2009.
Certainly one of the funnest races I've done.
Mainly due to the fact that my support crew consisted entirely of my brother Cameron...
Holy Team Pilley batman! The race was held up in the north of Holland in the city of Assen. Which is also the city that hosts the Dutch leg of the Moto GP.
It wasn't a hugely well known race but it was certainly a great, well organised event and THE endurance race of the "low countries". I was living in Holland at the time, down in the city of The Hague with my brother, so when the event popped up, I figured "why not?". I had just started racing for the German team, the Univega Pro Team, and wanted to get some runs on the board.
The course was about 7km and was actually really fun. Holland is dead flat but the course was full of single track and technical in some parts.
"I'll come and give you a hand if you need it."
The race wasn't on the team calendar so i'd have to sort logistics and whatnot for myself. Luckily my brother didn't have anything on his calendar and was keen to come. For those who don't know, my brother was a professional squash player, so obviously was busy training and competing himself. But, the top lad that he is, put his hand up to come and support his little brother.
How to get to the race. On the Saturday morning before the race, we jumped on bikes and rode a few minutes to get to the train station. Then, we jumped on a train for three hours. Then, we rode from the Assen train station to the race location. Yep, we got up pretty early.
We had borrowed a small tent to store our stuff but hadn't thought much more than that. I wasn't concerned, I was going to on my bike. Not my problem.
As we were looking to set up our camp area, next to us was a massive army tent that was being used by only two riders, who kindly offered it to us, along with chairs, lighting, etc. We jumped at the offer and were set to go.
"Yeah, normally I don't need anything for the first few hours or so, should be fairly relaxed...."
As the race was about to kick off at noon, I said those words to Cam. As it's usually the case, the first few hours of a 24hr you don't really need much or anything at all. You're fresh and full.
So Cam took this as I definitely wouldn't need anything at all for at least a few hours. And that he needn't even hang around...
So the race started and it was super humid and hot. Not very dutch weather.
The first few laps I was tapping out a solid tempo but also consuming a lot of fluids.
So I came through the feed zone.... no Cam.
Next lap... no Cam.
After a few more laps (and hours)... "Where the F**k is Cam?!"
Then, there he is. Waiting with a bottle.
He had gone off to watch the BMX stunt show, grab some food & drink and listen to the DJ music. You know, enjoy himself in the dutch country side.
To be fair, I did say I probably wouldn't need him...Probably.
As the race progressed, I really enjoyed the course and built up a solid lead.
The course was fun, the feed/support zone was well set up so you rode past everyone, making it quite exciting and inclusive. Also there was music, shows and entertainment.
Into the early hours of the morning, poor Cam was falling asleep on his chair track side. I'd normally ride pass and call out just to wake him up. Or throw an empty bottle at him. Or just abuse him for the sake of it. He did do a good job of passing bottles and having food ready though.
Early Sunday morning I was craving salty foods and asked Cam if I could have the chips we brought... "Nah bruz, you ate them." "Did I?!" "Yeah yeah you did, but you'll be right, only a few hours to go."
After 20 odd hours of nonstop riding I didn't really know what I had eaten or what was going on.
I managed to win the race with about an 80km lead on 2nd.
There was short bursts of rain and heat, but overall, it was good conditions. The following year the race had to be stopped during the night as a huge storm had rolled in and lightning was hitting the course.
After the race, Cam confessed he had eaten my chips.... and a number of other food & drink items of mine.
But, a win is a win and I appreciated his support.
Post race we jumped on our bikes and headed to the train station. We actually had to hop in different carriages due to it being quite full. I remember being so out of it I had started seeing cartoons on the floor of the train. I had been awake for nearly 40 hours.
I was pretty worried about falling asleep and not getting off at our stop. As another time, after an enjoyable evening out in Amsterdam, we fell asleep on the train and ended up in Belgium. But that's a story for another time...
Until next time.