Friday to Sunday
Arrive and orientate. We have come to Assen, a small town in the north of the Netherlands to take part in a six day long youth stage race. We’ve never done this before but have been persuaded it is a good way to spend some of the summer holidays. First impressions say Assen is very very flat, but also beautiful. The cycle paths are gorgeous and everywhere, people are cycling in multitudes, no helmets, children carried without special seats. Bikes as transport. I refused to remove my helmet for the first couple of days but finally gave it up. Only in the campsite though. The rest of the time we wear them. Our campsite is ideal for the children to go feral and better to have other club mates to go feral with. Some course reconnaissance takes place and a free sportive open to all. It seems strange that tomorrow morning we will need to return to military precision organisation and be at the races at the correct (early) time with all the correct equipment. My head is struggling with this. Plus I realise Eleanor is woefully undergeared as I have failed to properly adapt to the shorter gear requirement for the Dutch category 4 and have merely locked out one more cog. She is now over 20cm short of the limit. This matters on courses this flat. Fortunately the Lloyd family come to the rescue and lend us a spare bike for tomorrow’s prologue whilst we try and sort it out. Lesson: Read everything and ask questions before you go. Particularly about the gear restrictions. I thought I had done this but clearly not.
Monday 1st August – The Prologue Time Trial
8:15 am. We leave the campsite aiming to get Eleanor to her time trial for 9:17am. This process obviously takes longer than expected and by the time we have dragged our equipment from the carpark to the gazebo I am panicking. Paul accidently attaches the transponder to the spoke. We go to sign on in the wrong place. Time ticks on. We make it, with adrenalin pulsing through the veins. Eleanor completes it in the same time she managed whilst practising on the watt bike. Can’t ask for more than that. The course is 1.35km long with a very sharp turn onto cobbles. There is a proper starting ramp from a van. Times are read out as the rider finishes, in Dutch and in English. The organisation is amazing. Riders leave at 30 second intervals. Category 1 go first (under 8 boys and under 9 girls) It runs to clockwork. Until the thunderstorm. Here the LVYCC gazebo is a true star. The rain is torrential and we all shelter under it plus bikes and bags and several refugees from other clubs. One hour delay and the first category 6 riders, including Luke Prenelle, have to redo the TT to ensure that the category all compete under the same conditions. The course is now wet and the cobble corner is like an ice rink. We go and watch to try and work out the right lines for Max and Leo. Of the 5 riders I watch 2 crash, their rear wheels just sliding out. I am very glad they have watched and have some idea of what to expect. Luke makes it round safely, although obviously with a slower time than before. Ritchie crashes out but is given the choice of a second attempt. This time he makes it safely round. As much of the course is through woods it dries out very little on the corner through the rest of the day. There are many crashes but fortunately no more LVYCC riders. Bob and Julie are awarding their own Maillot Jaune to our club rider of the day. Today Luke and Ritchie deservedly share the honours. Step count for me today 19648
All the Prologue results are here