Here it comes again…. EcoMarathon Moeciu 2011

The story begins last year when I have decided to put myself up for a new challange: The Marathon (http://www.ecomarathon.ro/).  The decision was made and a long plan of action was made… Read the rest of this entry »

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A Hill in Spain

A Hill in Spain from chris akrigg on Vimeo.

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Agenda for 2011

Check Upcoming Events to get ideas for your mountain biking agenda of this year. Obviously this is only a small selection of all tours and marathons throughout the year, so feel free to add your own choices.

Perhaps a bit early, but this gives us ample opportunity to prepare for when the weather gets better!

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Trans Mont Blanc.. what a trip! (1)

The best of my trips ever… well. Is it just the overwhelming felling that I have now after spending one week in one of the most beautiful places on earth: Alps. And not any kind of the Alps, but the most impressive piece: the Mont Blanc.

I had in my agenda to write this story .. for a while now .. I will do my best to try to give you at least a taste of how is was…
After having Ernst convincing me that this is a challenging trip , I had subscribed at the beginning of the year for it. I really had no idea what to expect and how to best prepare for it. So I did what I do always.. ride the bike as much as I can :-) . We will ride around 400 km in 6 days with more than 10000 height meters.

Now..the story..
Day 1. After driving the 800 km I have reached the start place… the Verbier place hanging up in the mountains (an ex Tour de France pass). Place is wonderful..people are nice. We start with some beer and stories, getting to know each other. We are a total of 10 – 3 guides and 7 followers. The first evening goes well:

we get the final inspection of our bikers, some tricks are shown around, some tires get changed..  You can see that everybody is up for the unexpected and eager to start once the “trip”.
Day 2. We start with cold and gray weather (..a very positive start..) and I can see that on  the size of my backpack  - I think it is 5 kilos heavy and I will need to carry it every day: it contains the drinks, the clothes, the food (we are being served every day with 2 sandwiches and Matt knows how to prepare them the best – they are delicious and quite sizeable :-) )
For the second day we have a short route in the program. The idea is to get some pre-technical expertise before the real mountains begin. The trip takes us up down from Verbier and up the valley  following the direction towards the Italian border.  We are still in Switzerland but we do start to climb a part towards the ” Cole de la Ferret “.
Day 3.

After a good night sleep (well, sleeping seems to be no problem after a full day of hard working) we start the day with by enjoying the cold cold weather. There is still not clear if we ca

n make it over the cole with this kind of weather – it is snowing up there… Well, this is good for the 2nd day already. But we are strong, we can make it.. :-)  The climb is long and heavy. It gets colder and colder.. whiter and whiter.. we are reaching 2400 meter in full snow.. we need to go to 2780 to pass. Well, there is no way back so we keep climbing. We try to follow the example of Bart which is carrying Fenke behind him using some strange plastic construction :-) . Once we reach the pass things are changing rapidly. The “Italian” side looks to be more clear and nice. We are up for the descent and we really get it. There is a long technical descent that starts at 2780 and goes till 1600 where the first mountain cabin can be reached. It took me some time and blood (1st fall) to reach it ..but it is worth. The rest follow up slowly. Of course, Maarten is the first as his technique is  wow  (for somebody being 50 years old.. gives me different perspective)…. we know have to speak Italian..  so cool.. The weather gets better and better.. we have the first pass done.. what can be more relaxing??

The rest of the day is composed of some techincal climbs and descents. One can feel the tension in the air – everybody is focused as there is no place for error. Every place requires some different techniques making it difficult and challanging at once. I can say that after this whole week my techique improved soo much. I can feel the bike better and I can estimate the diffculty much better.

After the last climb (a long and steep asphalted road) we are stopping for the night at Refugio di Monte Bianchi – a lovely place in the middle of the Mont Blanc glaciers. The beer and food comes handy now… very handy :-) . We have made 60 km over the highest pass from this trip, but we are not there yet.

Day 4

We are climbing further follwoing an army path towards the border with France. Really amaizing overview, nature is wonderful here and we are enjoying it. We are klimbing high again and passing into France through a technical descent again. Lucly the weather is lovely this time.

A blue sky is above us and the Mont blanc massive is on our right side…

We are now in Les Chapieux and we still have to go for the last climb before reaching the destination.  The climb takes us over an asphalted road to Cormet de Roseland. I have a short competition with Maarten and Ernst is following back together with Kor.  The group is getting more and more friendly which makes the trip even nicer.

To finish the route, the route takes us with a de-tour of the Lac du Roseland where a marmot and a fox can be spotted. There is still something strange about this place as it is so quite and savage. It gives one the impression of always being lost as you are surrender by the high mountains from each side. After some complex route search ( …we got lost :-) ) we reach out destination – a mountain cabin on the side of the lake – wonderful.  We enjoy the nice weather and a beer on  the patio… again…what you need more than that ?

Day 5

We are expecting serious climbing. The difficulty is high and we are enjoying again the super-view. Lakes and mountains.. as long as you can see. Some military planes try to do some exercises and disturb the quite of the place. The climbing start to get very difficult, but we are expecting our first view on the top of Europe: the Mont Blanc. After some bike-walking we reach the top… well.. that was worthwhile.

More to come on the second part of the story….


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Great to be back!

Today I went mountainbiking again for the first time in Nijmegen. It must have been at least a year since the last time I was there. I started mountainbiking again 1 month ago. Starting slowly with Dorst (short round, small hills), then the Beerzen route (practically flat but a bit longer), followed by the Drunense Duinen (same distance but with small and nasty hills).  Today Nijmegen was up again and I was a bit nervous at the start. Mainly worried about how my knee would feel and about my physical condition which is not that good.

But what can I say, everything went like a charm. Sure, my physical condition is not what it used to be but I could still climb every hill without getting off the bike (so no walking). The only thing afterwards was that I discovered that my saddle had broken. Actually it happened much earlier but I didn’t realize that it had broken because I thought the seatpost had turned. Oh well, breaking stuff is not that uncommon to me, especially if it involves things related to the ‘chair’ concept.

It sure feels good to be back!

Mountainbiking in Nijmegen on a Sunday morning

Mountainbiking in Nijmegen on a Sunday morning

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Best of Downhill and Freeride

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Knee recovery

It was 4 December 2009 when I ruptured my knee tendon in the right knee by a mountainbiking accident. Indirectly, this was caused by an earlier fall on 27 September 2009, which also landed me in hospital. i was enjoying myself when it happened: it was 5 degrees Celsius, with rain and mud. I was cycling about 15km/h when my rear wheel slipped and I fell. Only, I was trying not to fall by compensating with my knee. In fact, it turns out that if you do that with your knee bent and exert a lot of force, it is possible to rupture your knee tendon.

So there I was lying on the ground with my knee cap about 10cm above the place where it usually was. I could straighten my leg using my arms but walking was impossible. I tried it and fell again. So I called the emergency number telling them exactly where I was using GPS coordinates. Still, they had a lot of trouble finding me. Luckily, after about 30 minutes (it was already getting dark), I saw a woman who was letting out her dog. Turns out that they lived quite close by; about 300 metres.

With the help of the woman’s husband I finallly managed to get out of the forest and the ambulance so pick me up at their home. To make a long story short, I was operated the next day, followed by a cast for 7 weeks. When the cast came off on 22nd January, I could start to exercise the knee again. In the beginning it would only bend very little but with a lot of exercise I quickly reached 90 degrees of bend.

knee bend

A few weeks after that I could start cycling again on a home trainer with reduced crank size. And after that doing more and more strenght exercises.

Currently, I am already commuting to work again by bike and it is not a problem to cycle 70km a day on the recumbent bike. Unfortunately, still not able to go mountainbiking. In some areas I am still missing some strenght (in particular going down the stairs). The strenght is coming back but it is going slowly. I have set a criterion for myself which is to be able to run at least for 30 minutes without problems while running and afterwards. Not quite there yet. I can run for 14 minutes on a tred mill. So, recovery is going well but is slow. I still see changes on a weekly basis. If all goes well I will be able to go mountainbiking again in a couple of months (after summer).

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Les Cimes Des Waimes 2010

After some weeks of training to get a little into shape  I finally tried my first real MTB Marathon in the Belgium Ardennes: “les Cimes Des Waimes” it is a MTB marathon that is part of the belgium EBMC challenge together with three other large MTB marathons.

I was already staying in the ardennes with some friends in Han Sur Lesse so to get at the start at 9:05 we had to leave our bed early (6:30) together with Jan-Willem I drove to Waimes where we arrived just in time for the official start. We decided to bike the 50km and that was a good choice, Because of the bad weather of the last days some parts of the route where very very muddy. As can be seen in the picture below.

tn_IMG_9982

Also the 4 “Cimes” that where part of the 50km where difficult to climb and I just managed to get at the top of the Ovifat ski-hill.

climbing the Ovifat ski hill

But there where also a lot of really nice single trails downhill.

downhill after the ski hill

after biking 50km I was happy to arrive back at Waimes to get warm again and eat a tasty pasta. Furthermore I really have to compliment the organization of this marathon they did an excelent job in marking the route and stopping the cars when we had to cross a road. Also the 2 stops had a large variety of food and some live music !

After some time also Ernst arrived at the finish (he biked the 75km, respect..) and after a nice beer Jan-Willem and I went back to our camping spot in Han sur lesse and shared our adventures with the rest of the group there and went to bed early to recover from this nice day of biking.

I really enjoyed myself and looking forward to the other MTB marathons I’m going to ride (Limburg mooiste, Raid des sorcieres)

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Running is also a sport….

Just wanted to come back with some details on my tentative to start running as a separate exercise … and so I did.  Around 2 months ago I have started with my first 5 km throwing me after in some painfull days, as my muscles could not bare it :-) . But slowly, slowly I did reached 10 km. Then I went for the time getting quicker and quicker, better and better every day ;-) .  Well, running seems a bit boring then mtb, but believe me it is much easier to practice as you just need some shoes and some sportive outfit. It involves no cleaning up, no long runs, no fixing bike, etc..

But.. let’s go to the results. I have made so far two marathons: On in Amsterdam (16 km) and one in Romania (14 km but this was a bit hilly :-) with 500 height meters – well they have it here too :-)  )

http://www.zuidasrun.nl/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=171&Itemid=86

http://www.ecomarathon.ro/rezultate

(just search for Todea ;-) )  –> the result is that the bikers can run too :-D

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Blubbèr dans Angleur

This neatly sums up Reli and my adventures Sunday March 21st at de VTT du Sart Tilman in Angleur, close to Liège. It was supposed to be the first day of Spring, but it reminded me more of a bad day in Autumn. One of those days were you almost immediately regret the decision that you have taken the 55km route at the 45/55 crossing.

On a positive note: it really is nice biking in this area, lots of technical climbs and descents. Definitely worth another visit, when the conditions are little better.

Have a look at the photos to get an impression. Check out the results if you want to see how long it took us to complete 55km.

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