Baise Outdoor Quest (China, april 2015) – report Henk

THE BIG CHINA ADVENTURE, Baise Outdoor Quest.  April 21-22, 2015.

 

Today we will be traveling with 3 team members of Dutch Adventure (Renate, Wodi and Henk), and 1 guest racer (Raymond), to China.

Just a few hours before departing at Schiphol, we heard that out team clothing is ready and fresh from the press.

Henk arranged to pick the stuff up, but has to hurry home, because at 1 o’clock one of his team members is about to pick him up and together they will go to the airport by train. Once packed and at the train station, the adventure of getting there en starting a 4 day stage race, get us excited.

At the airport near Amsterdam they will meet the rest of the 2 team members and got one supporter with us.

The check in at the airport takes sometime, but doesn’t give a lot of trouble. Our bike boxes are ok to, so there is nothing to worry about for the next 10 hours. So, to the plane that will brings us to our first stop, Beijing.

After a 8,5 hours flight with only a little sleep, we are in China and then the first ‘chaos’ is starting. Although we fly further to Nanning, we have to get our luggage and bike boxes and check in again at an other part of the airport. We got direction to all places and areas, but never the right one. After 40 minutes we are at the counter to check in again. The person looked surprised when they see the boxes. In the mean time we only have 35 minutes left to check in forour next flight. There is no person who speaks proper English, so it takes a time to understand it all.

First our bags…. Labeled again and with the first one through, the alarm goes off. Batteries in the bag? Yep, for our headlights. Not allowed, so most of us have to take them out. 10 minutes later,all the bags are through. Now the bike boxes! Also a new label. Wehave to pay again….. 23 kilometers per ….. (Didn’t understand him at all) But we refused, because in Amsterdam atthe airport we already paid €400, for the four bikes. In the mean while six different people looked at out tickets, bike boxes, and there where only 15 minutes left tocheck in for the flight to Nanning. After showing the receipts, it was ok andwe good drop our boxes at the odd luggage point. Another alarm went off when my bike went through. I had 2 gas patrons in my box, to inflate my tires quickly. In Amsterdam there was no problem, now there is. I have to get them out. So, bikebox open, find the 2 gas patrons, and tape the box again. Another 10 minutes lost…. At the custom check in, out guest racer had some issues with a bottle of lens contact fluid and also my 2 patrons gave another problem….The fluid was quickly okay, but my 2 things I had to leave behind…. A little bit frustrated I left them there and in a sort of quick pace we went to the gate. In time, at least!

Next stop Nanning, where we should be picked up by some people of the organization. We got our bags and boxes quickly and at the arrivals some people where waiting for us. Also 2 team members froma Danish team en 3 members of a French team are here. In also a bit broken English the told usthat we could bring our stuff to the bus, but we had to wait another 2 hours before departing, because there is another team arriving. Later on we notices that there a 2 teams and probably some more volunteers.

There is a 5 till 6 hour drive waiting for us, to the race base, near Baise and it’s 19.30 already and getting dark. After 4 hours we are in the centre of Baise and the bus stops……. Phone calls are made, don’t know why or what…. 23.39 and we decide to do some shopping.In the mean while we hear that the 5-6 hours drive actually is a 8 hours drive in daylight…. Meaning in the dark, it will take longerand so we are only halve way. The organization tries to arrange a hotel for the 22 people in the middle of the night. We are a bit flabbergasted….But there is nothing to do about… 15 minutes later we are at a hotel and we need to share a room with to persons…. Not really a problem. Get up at 7 and leave at 8 o’clock, is the message. We need to get to the 10th floor and when we open the door……. Surprise!!!! A big cockroach, about 6 cm, is walking above our bed…… Okay, what to do…. We laugh and in mean time we think, what is this…. Then we see a basket standing on a desk, ofcondoms and safe sex stuff…. Again we’re starting to laugh……. Welcome in China. The cockroach is gone already and we decide to take a quick shower and get some sleep…. Tomorrow will be another day!

April 23, 2015.

We have to wake up early. 06:00 is breakfastand 07:00 we will drive further to race base in Leye town. It’s another 4 hour drive.

Eventually we’re leaving around 08:00, sothere won’t be al lot time left to prepare and take it easy.

On the way we’ve to stand still for almostan hour, because of an accident further down the road.

Let me say it nicely: ‘they have a special way of driving and traffic rules’….

We’re arriving just before 13.30 at the hotel where we will stay for the night. First they tell us to have lunch and just when we grab a plate we have to report for they briefing. Hurry hurry,leave food, they tell us in crappy English.

So, we’re heading a floor down to join all the teams and try to understand as much as possible.

In short English words they tell us they program, some rules and how they race will be build up in the next 4 days.

It will be divided in 2 times 2 days, with a bivouac in between the 2 days.

At 15:30 there is an equipment check. This means bicycle, helmet, headlight, climbing gear and some practical things to do.

Everything is ok and a group picture is taken. From then till 21:00 hour we have time to get our gear boxes packed and complete.

In the road book stands where we get box A, B or C for the first 2 days of racing. It’s a bit of a puzzle to geteverything organized, but together we manage. We also have to pack our bags fort he bivouac and in between we have to catch some dinner.

Tomorrow it will all start, a little race tension is there already and around 23:30 hour we’re all trying to get a few hours of sleep.

April 24, 2015. Race day 1

The bus will leave at 08:30 and bring us to the start in Leye Town. Before that is dropping of our last luggage (which we will see in the other hotel again) and have some breakfast.

Around 09:00 the opening ceremony start and with a lot of drums sounds, flags waving and Chinese dragons dancing, we walk into a big square, where there are some words spoken by a few people. After that we’ve got about 15 minutes to warm up, before the start.

At 09:40 the race starts and all team run trough the centre of the city towards another square where there is an envelope hanging at about 3 meters high. Wodi pushes up Raymond to get the envelope witha map in it, for the first 3 CP’s.

They told us that we could split up to getthe 3 CP’s, but have to arrive together at TA 1, before we can go further.

Wodi takes a picture of the map and will go for the CP that is the most far away, Ray and Renate take the map and a CP close by and Henk goes to the third CP, because that’s a point where you have to rappel down from about 25 meters. The day before we talked about this and one of us had to bring his climbing gear, because of this checkpoint.

Renate and Ray are the first ones to arrive near TA 1, Henk arrives 10 minutes later and we wait for Wodi. The deadline is 60 minutes after the start. One by one teams are getting complete here, but there is still no sign of Wodi. Minutes pass by and we are getting a bit worried. Something happened? Did he run the wrong way? Just 5 minutes before the deadline, he arrives. It was a steep climb to the CP, so it took him a while.

We quickly check in at TA 1 and get started for our 25k run. The course of this run is set out with ribbons, so we just have to follow it.

We start with a stairs and immediately it goes up. No need to try to do this running. We brought our poles, so it makes walking up hill a little it easier.

Because of the rain at the beginning of the day (ceremony and start also) the rocks are wet and slippery.

There’s one team behind us and we see 2 infront of us. We try to find a steady pace, running on the ‘flat’ (as there is not much) and down hill, walking uphill. Slowly we get closer to the team in front of us and overtake them. But weneed to be careful on the small tracks and rocks.

After about 1,5 hour Henk slips away and falls on his right elbow. Within a few seconds his all arm and hand is red of all the blood. ‘Bandage’ he shouts to Wodi and Ray in the front. They quickly grab a bandage an wrap it around his elbow.

Henk hopes its not to bad and that he can go on for the next day’s. For now we have to go further anyway, because we are walking in the middle of nowhere. The tracks mostly are small and going up and down the hole time.

We had to bring our helmet and headlight for this run also, because there is a cave section somewhere along this run. After about an hour or 2, we get there. We grab each others headlights out of our backpacks and get in the cave. There are some red lights flashing along the cave route and also some ribbons. It’s fun to do this and it takes us about 25minutes to get trough and get out on the other side. We are a little more then half way.

About 11k to go. The deadline of this section is 400 minutes after the start. Because we had already taken the 60 minutes at the prologue, we had about 5 hours and 40 minutes to complete this stage. Normally you would say, 25k in 5 hours……. Pfffff easy. But it wasn’t here.

The last 2 – 2,5 hours where mostly stairs, going up and down the hole time. It sometimes was hard to find a steady pace here, which keeps you going. Along the route there where some people ofthe organization cheering you up and supporting you. Also when you came trough a little village, people looked at us and children screaming and waving small flags.

After 5 hours (6 hours racing time in total) we arrived at TA 2. Here the ATB section starts, for a 41k ride. We have to do this ride by gps. All the ATB tracks are uploaded in the gps we hard to bring with us. Deadline 10 hours, so we got about 4 hours left to do this. Could be done, we think. When we change our clothing a team in front of us is justleaving and we know that there are at least 2 teams behinds us. We rideoff…..

Quickly it goes up, off road and the climbs are steep. In only half an hour we had done about 6k. What could we expect?!

The next few kilometers weren’t going fast either, and after 44 minutes there was only 9k on the counter.

But then we came at the top and could takea ride down on a concrete road. From an average of 12k an hour it jumped to a 20k average, so we got back our spirit again. That was also needed, to do the next climb.

It did go up more, then down and after about 1,5 hour we came to a small town with a CP. We’re  ordered to stop and get off our bikes and walk to the CP. This was also the point where the hike-bike part starts. During the briefing they told us that 3k hike-bike part in it, with piece of walking and biking.

After about an hour or 2 on the bikes ection, Henk noticed that something is wrong with his rear derailleur. His chain is hanging loose and there is no tension on it anymore. We try to figure out what is wrong and see that there is a pin missing which hold 2 parts of the derailleur together.

Just 100 meters ago he biked a bit, so itcould not been a long way back that this happened. Henk is figuring out if he can repair it and the other members are looking back the track for the missing part.

Mechanical problems are never fun, but just when we’re getting closer to the team in front of us, this happens. Again Henk, who also felt during the first running section. And also at this point we had a team in our sight.

Wodi finds the missing part (eagle eye),and we try to fix it. But we can’t get enough tension on the rear derailleur and Henk only got a few gear’s left, of the 30 he normally has. Luckily the second lightens one works, so coming up hill an end, must be possible.

The bad thing is, it took us about half an hour of precious time.

There is still also a little piece of hike-bike to do and after that we can ride again. Time is ticking away….

It will be a close call if we can make the deadline. Only when the counter on the bike says 41k, we are not there yet!

We arrive at TA 3, just about 8 minutesafter de deadline. We’re not allowed to kayak anymore! The past section for today, 32k.

This will not take us out of the race, but gives us a big time penalty.

Where all a bit disappointed, angry, confused or whatever is crossing our minds….. Henk is broken down for a moment, because of his elbow first, then the bike and now missing the deadline.

This TA is also the bivouac place, so the team (Wodi, Raymond and Renate) is getting some food (organization provided cold pizza), we brought some adventure food. Henk needs sometime alone, to put away his disappoint, and wants to try to fix his bike, or else there won’t be a start tomorrow……

The rear derailleur can’t be fixed and we didn’t brought a spare one. Luckily for us, Team Thule got one with them, and they want to hand it over to us. Details we be arranged after the race…..(Thanks guys and girl)

Although it’s a different brand, Henk manage to get it working and at least he’s got more gears for the next day’s and even more important, our adventure can go on!! Or is it a bit early to cheer?!

Henk eats a little and then reports to the doctor to check on his elbow. The bandage is sticking to the skin and with some water we try to get it off.

It’s not good, the doctor says…. It need to be stitched! They want to bring Henk to the hospital, but the first thing he  asked is if he still can race the next days. Henk calls for Renate and tells her what is going to happen. We agreed that Henk will grab some things and go to the hospital and the rest of the team is putting up camp.

When Henk reports back at the doctor, an ambulance just arrived. He don’t need to go to the hospital, but it can be taken care of here, in the ambulance. After half an hour or so, Henk’s elbow is cleaned up, stitched and bandaged and he is back with his team.

Wodi makes him an adventure food, Henk is preparing his bike and Renate en Raymond are already in the tent, trying to get some sleep!

We have to get up at 04:00 and start at 05:00 for day 2, second part of stage 1.

April 25,  2015. Race day 2

04:00, the alarm goes off. Renate slept ok, Raymond and Wodi a little and Henk not at all. Mostly because of his elbow and couldn’t find a good position to lay down.

Today’s program is a: 119k ATB, 27k run and 9k rafting. We start at 05:00 in position of ranking and every 10 seconds a team can go.

It’s is still dark when we ride off. The first few kilometers are same as yesterday, only back and up hill now. The deadline for this section will be 9,5 hours after the start. And we know that there will be a climb up till 1740 meters. It’s getting light and the sun is getting true. Yesterday it was a bit cloudy, today there will be a lot more sun. Also here we have the feeling that we are going more uphill than downhill. After 4 hours we only have done 38k yet. The sun is warm, the road are full of dusty sand and gravel rocks….. At one moment up hill the chain of Henk’s bike snaps. He shouts a few words (which we don’t repeat here). After the bike problem yesterday, he hoped it would be over now….. Wodi probably got a little tiny hole in his inner tire and every 2 till 3 hours he has to put a little air in it. It’s gonna be a hard day and we all suffer.

Although Wodi is still looking fit and strong, Raymond and Henk are trying to find a steady pace and Renate keeps on going, but the climbs are heavy.

Finally it’s going a bit more downhill and the average speed is going up. 5 hours on the bike and about 60k done. The downhill’s aren’t feeling great for Henk’s elbow. All the shocks on the rocky roads makes it more painful during the day.

The warmth is making it even harder and at every point where we can pick up some water we drink a bottle and throw a bottle of water over us. The weather predictions didn’t said it would be this sunny and we all didn’t put up any sunscreen protection… So red arm, knees, head and neck.

We are getting closer to TA 5 and with 1 hour to go, we’ll have to ride another 20k. We are getting on a concrete road and hoping that this will bring us to the Transition Area…. Unfortunately we have to take a right turn somewhere and getting off road again and starting to climb…

Time is passing by and we’re back to a 10k average at that moment. About an hour after the deadline, just about 15:40hour, we arrive at the TA. We’ve been riding for almost 10,5 hours, tired and a bit exhaust we crash down.

Day 2 ends here for us. No running and rafting sections. Mixed feelings, because we came here to race an try to do it all, on the other hand, after a day like this on the bike we’re a bit glad we didn’t have to start at the 27k run.

At this point we see the Danish Merrel team, who where in front of us, but also to late, the Malaysian team, who had been stopped half way somewhere and brought here. And there where still 4 teams behind us, who had to come in. We had to wait till all teams are at the TA,before they would bring us to our hotel for the night. Although there was a bit of deception, we also left some teams behind us today, and that felt a bit good to.

At about 18:30 we arrived at the hotel. We all took a quick shower and then get something to eat first. After that we had te repack out gear boxes A, B and C again for the next 2 days of racing and fill up our bikes again with some food and water. It’s a bit of a puzzle again to put what in which box, partly because we are a bit tired and it’s getting late again. But together we manage it and about midnight we’re all trying to get some sleep again.

It’s a warm night!

Although I’m not writing a lot about the landscape, the parts we run and ride through are amazing and sometimes words don’t say or cover enough. The small villages, a lot of sawa’s (ricefields) like big steps on a stair up or down, the people who are cheering, the cone mountains everywhere…

Perhaps the pictures later will let yousee a bit of what we’ve been seeing these days!

April 26, 2015.  Race day 3

Breakfast is between 06:00 and 07:00 and after that we have to get in the busses that will transport us to the start of stage 2.

It’s about an hour drive and the last part is mainly uphill. So we start somewhere high.

The program for this day will be as follow: a 5k prologue (where we’re allowed to split up again and get togetherat TA 1), then a 27k run followed by a 47k ATB ride. Then again a 11,5k run with a rope task (flying fox) after 7k and a kayak section of 16.5k. After that, day 3 is over, and there is a bivouac again.

Several minutes before the start we got a new tracking device and the map of the prologue. A quick study makes clear we have to go west way, but that CP 1 is laying more north and CP more south. After that the paths are coming together and then they split again, 1 to CP 3 going north around and then further to TA 1 and the south path is leading directly to the TA 1. Because Henk is not feeling fit after 2 days, Raymond and him decided to get CP 1, Wodi and Renate get CP 2 and then meet each other atthe crossing and decided who will pick up CP 3.

Wodi is still fit and strong and together with Renate they will pick up CP 3 and meet Raymond and Henk ant TA 1.

The last 2 are only a few minutes at theTA, when they see Wodi and Renate come running from the north.

At this moment we’re in the front of the race. Only 2 or 3 teams are running ahead of us when we start with the 27k run.

Wodi takes Henk immediately on a tow line,so we stick together and keep the pace. After about 20 minutes the top teams are slowly passing by.

It fun, there is a little talking and it’sgood for our spirit….

Then the first heavy climb is coming. A small steep path is going up. We’re forming a line with the teams, some passing by, others we pass. Slowly the gap between the teams is getting bigger, because of the different paces each team has.

After a 45 minutes we’re hitting a short piece of flat road. We all need to drink and Henk is already out of breath and sort of exhaust. It’s gonna be a day of surviving for him. We got a short break and continue, again Wodi hooked Henk up at his towing line.

This path takes us through a piece of dense forest, which looks a little like a jungle track, Wodi says. It’s more like like a water stream for when there is a lot of rain. The bus is thick, we have to climb over and under trees and it’s going slowly. The deadline for this section is 6 hours after we start with the prologue. Henk struggles at this stage. When the track is going up or easy downhill, so we can run, he’s hooked up immediately at Wodi, who is still going strong. When it’s walking down, he’son his own, because with the cord pulling, it’s hard to keep your balance on the rocks, trees of loose ground. Raymond and Renate keeps going on. It’s not easy, but the manage. At one moment, after about 2 hours on the run section,Henk can’t stand ones his legs for a few seconds. Exhaust, totally out of breath, no energy left and the sun burning…. The rest of the team gives him abreak for a few minutes. Raymond throws some water over him, Renate gives him some sweet candy and Wodi figures out how to go on.

The long runs are not Henk’s strongest point, but something in him won’t give up either. For himself, but also for the team. We came here to race and to finish! And after a day like Monday, he just don’t want to quit. Henk stands up and start to walk up hill again, behind Wodi. Raymond in front, Renate behind him. We get to the top and start to go downhill again, passing through a village where all the adults and kids are along the road.

It gives him a little boost. There is also a water point at the end of the village where we fill up or change our bottles.

There’s a little less then 10k to go and we’ve got about 2,5 hours left. At one moment we hit a concrete road and try to pick up some speed by starting to run a little again. Don’t know what to expectin the last few kilometers before the TA. That’s a good decision, because there is again a small steep path going up and down again. We see the TA 2 and almost have an hour left for the deadline.

At the TA we fill up our bottles and backpack, try to eat something, change shoes and some close. Another team is arriving to. After a minute or 10 we leave together on the bike. The people cheer and we’re heading off for a 47k ride. The next deadline is 540 minutes after the start this morning, which means we got about 3,5 left to finish the ATB stage.

Right away we need to climb again. Thereis no time for a few minutes relax riding on the bike. Slowly we leave the other team behind and trying to find our pace up hill again. Wodi helps Renate so now and then, because she is having a hard time riding uphill. Henk and Raymond manage in their own pace. On the bike Henk feels a bit better, this is more his specialism.

We’re going up and down all the time. Not really time to catch you’re breath for a moment. The climbs are heavy and steep again, the downhill’s tricky with all the rocks, gravel and loose sand.

We also know that there will be a 3khike-bike in this section, and we’re not really looking forward to this. We even wonder why they put it in races. If you have to carry or push you’re bike for a hundred meter or so, it’s ok. But carrying it over a narrow track, where you can hardly walk on, 2,5-3k long, there is no fun in that. But there is no other way, so we have to go on!

Time is passing by and when de deadlinegets in sight, we’re still on the bike. We won’t make it in time, but our goal will be to get to TA 3 before dark. So that will be around 19:30. For the last hour or so we’re still climbing. There is about 10k to go and Henk says to Renate ‘there must be coming a long downhill or so?’ And yes, the last 8k arealmost going down only. The last kilometer is near a small village with a big weir, where out TA will be. A few minutes after our goal (19:34) we arrive there. Completely done we hang our bikes and crash down on the floor with some bottles of water.

For the ones who wants to know, Henk says, tomorrow the first part of the ATB stage will be back up, the way we came down.

We leave all our bike gear and stuff near our bikes, fill up our bottles, because this will be the start of the ATB stage tomorrow.

By bus we’ll be brought to the bivouac for tonight. It’s about an hour drive, because they have to get around some hills. When we’re there, it’s amazing to see. All blue party tents are hooked up together and form our sleeping places for tonight.

Titia, who came with us, has already confiscated 2 tents for us and provide us with some food and drinks.

Henk and Raymond crashes down on the floor. There both empty, Renate sits down and is looking a bit dreamy, Wodi grabs some stuff and takes an improvised shower. This is a big bucket where you hardly can stand in with 2 feet and then a small bowl to put some water over you.

We all eat some hot noodles, some cold tuna, Renate brought some real chocolate milk and after all that we prepare for the next morning.

When it’s around 23:00 we hear that the starting time for tomorrow will be 07:00. An hour later then planed in the road book. Yeah, shouts Wodi, 1 hour longer sleep. Raymond wonders if we will sleep at all with some snoring ‘Bears’ around us tonight. We close the sides of theparty tent and try to get some rest. It will already be the last race day tomorrow.

April27, 2015. Race day 4

We get up at around 06:00. Put on oursmelly racing cloths again for the last day of racing. Today’s program will be as follow:

Start with a 16k paddle in a 2 person kayak, then a 13k run with another cave session and the last part will be a 37k ATB track to the finish line.

We all eat something, drink as much as possible and prepare for the kayak stage. At least we can paddle one day and didn’t bring our paddles for nothing. We already had decided for the first day that Wodi and Raymond for a couple in a kayak and Renate and Henk.

At around 07:00 we report at the startingline. The first teams start in order of the ranking and after a few minutes we can start to. We quickly grab 2 kayaks, adjust the feet settings and get in.Together with 3 other teams we take off. Normally kayaking is one of Henk’s strongest points, but today he’s struggle a little with his right shoulder. Perhaps because of slip during the first day and his stitched up elbow. We put a little elastic line between the 2 kayaks and paddle to the first cp, at the north. It takes us about 25 minutes and Wodi has to make a small pit stop. Henk’s shoulder is getting warm and feeling better, so Wodi takes of the hook and Renate and Henk already starts to paddle back to the starting point. Raymond and Wodi will follow shortly. Just before the hour we pass the starting line again and paddle further down the lake/river. We’re about half way, perhaps alittle over.

Henk divides the second part in 4 parts, so we have a short goal every time. Slowly we’re catching up with 2 teams in the front of us. Together with those teams we arrive at TA 1, just under 2 hours. We quickly leave our stuff at our gearbox and take off for the 13k run.

Directly it’s going up hill. We drink and eat something during the walk up and after 15 minutes or so we arrive at the first cave section. The cave is actually a sort of pass trough to an amazing piece of nature. Sort of “lost world” feeling.

This place is amazing although we have to make a very steep climb up hill again. We see a few teams in front, walking already above us, so it will be a hard way to go. It’s ‘only’ 13k, but it won’t be easy!

We’re crossing somewhere between 2 tops and heading down again. The path is full of loose rocks and loose ground, so we won’t be able to make a lot of speed. We end up with another cave, some sort of pass trough. We getting all the way down in this one to, before we have to go up again. We’ve done about 8k at that moment and the deadline lies a 4 hoursand 40 minutes after the start. We’re already 3,5 hour on the way, so we have alittle more then an hour left. Must be possible! Can we make all stages todaythen, the last day, to the finish line?!

We arrive in a small town again and it’s abit of a flat part, so we pick up some pace. Quickly take some water at the corner of a street an move further. Not long after the city we arrive at the starting of a lake. This must be the lake where the weir is on, so we get excited to get to our ATB’s.

Although, as happend often these day’s before, there is a small surprise in the route. At one point there is some sort of cove at this lake, that we must go around to get to the weir. Damn, we all think. To good to be true!

There is no other way, so we just have to go on. A small track brings us all the way down to the end of the cove and after that is walking up hill again, to get to the main road. Once there we start running again, because the deadline is getting close. We arrive about 15 minutes before the deadline.

Yes, we can start for our last stage today! We quickly chance cloth and start our 37k bike ride.

Like said before, the first part is going up the track we drove down yesterday. So we prepare our selfs for a long climb over a dusty road. The first 1,5 hour is only up hill. We’ve done about 11k in that time. We mainly drive off road and the tracks are hard. Up hill is heavy and steep, down hill sort of dangerous with all the rocks and sharp turns. But every kilometer brings us closer to the finish.

At one moment we hit a concrete road going down and finally can make some speed. We’re heading down with more then 50k an hour, but it’s not for long. Out of no where there is some sort of road block by cars and people and we have to take a sharp right turn, off road and up again. This is the good route, but we hoped we good go a little longer down on the concrete road.

It’s a tough climb again and when we’re at the top, there is about 8k to go. This must be going all down we think, because we’re at the top of the ‘cone’ mountains here. But also here there is a catch. Every time we go down its only for 600 meters or so, to some sort of plateau between the top of the hills and then have t climb again. This happened 3 or 4 times, until we’re at 3,5k before the finish line. Then there is at first a dusty road going down for 1,5k or so. It’s a tricky one and Raymond will remember this! Just a few meters before we hit the concrete road, we see an enormous dust cloud. Raymond wasn’t paying attention, slips and crashes in the dusty sand.When he gets up (luckily no serious injuries) he looks like a sandman, all yellow/brown sand everywhere! He is ok and we ride down the road, into the city. The finish lies by a big sport centre and 200 meter before the finish line we had to lay down our bikes and cross the finish running. Almost there, we form a line an run over the finish together! We’re there!! It’s done!! It’s over!!

What started as a crazy idea, became reality. We participated in one the heaviest stage races, against some of the world teams. Looking back, a few days later, it was an amazing adventure! Somehow we already think and spoke about going again next year.

For know, we al need some rest and slowly prepare for the next things that will come.

Fusion Netherlands, Duursport.nl, Bike2Build, STATE en OutdoorPro bedankt voorjullie steun en support!

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