Yesterday, 23rd of August 2009, the 6th edition of the Houffamarathon was held. Almost 2000 bikers (including myself) enjoyed a well-organized race through the beautiful countryside surrounding the village of Houffalize. The weather has been good the past week(s) so the tracks were all perfectly dry (dusty even in some places), safe a few passages through the small Ardennes rivers.
Last year, in conditions far worse than this year, I participated in the 75km race and finished in just under 6 hours. This year, after 110km Limburgs Mooiste and 2 weeks of ‘training’ in the Alps, I decided I would enter the 100km race.
On the day of the race I felt quite good, uphills went solid, downhills were thrillingly fast, but with confidence (‘look ma -almost- no brakes’ .) But after 75 km I had to pay the price for being fast, and suffered muscle cramp attacks in both my legs, so I had to slow down a bit. The cramps never really went away, but it turned out my efforts were good enough for total race time of 5 hours 19 minutes (overall average of about 19km/h.) This landed me the 89th place in the overall standings.
Best Event Sofar
Already from the start of this year the weather has been very good for biking. And because of this we have enjoyed some very nice races (Limburgs Mooiste, Shimano Fietschallenge, Olne-Spa-Olne), but for me this edition of the Houffamarathon currently tops the bill! If at all possible I will ride the Houffamarathon again next year (and hopefully with a few other mountain hoppers.)
I just learned that in the midst of all the biking fun there was a tragedy as well. On his third Houffamarathon, 52 year old Jo Debleu suffered a cardiac arrest. Attempts to resuscitate him by fellow bikers and medics who rushed to the scene were in vain, and he sadly passed away. More on www.houffamarathon.be.