For the third round of tcr, a special challenge was added to the recipe. Going as a pair, with a deep common sense for what it means to go as a pair/ team. For my wife Nico and myself it was clear that pair meant supporting each other, tcr rules say that a pair shall go and stay together. There had been various examples and the past that show these words are only on paper, and maybe formally you get a DNF if only one rider arrives. All other encourages single pair riders to carry on, but okay this is another chapter.
My wife Nico was a strong dot watcher for all the time. I was proud of having someone on my side who supports me that much. I was talking to various riders during races, that mentioned that they lack such support and motivation from home. At some point
NICO: last year I got pretty anoyed spending so much time watching others, especially of course Max, and not doing much else
we discussed about riding such an adventure together. Highs and lows in terms of confidence were coming alongside. But how to know about it, if not tackling it. So, as the new announcements for tcr no6 came out, we decided to go for it. Even we had no clue yet, how to arrange things. During the next months we started setting up a new bike and selecting and testing equipment for Nico. I am not certain if it was a pro that there had already been some experience in cycling for longer time, definitely a path was already built that we walked on to make decisions for her. It seemed most of them were working out pretty well!
NICO: Good point, Max has so much more experience than I do and he is so well organized and thoughtful with his arrangements and equipement that this stopped me thinking on my own many times.
Then it was about riding longer distances, she started pretty early in getting a personal feeling of what she was capable of. Over the time, she added some portions of rough weather conditions and also sleeping rough. The only major thing that we did not manage to do was riding for several days together, before getting over to the tcr starting line. It would have made a difference, but as we learnt the focus in tcr was on a different subject.
As we finally found a good solution for our kids to stay during the 20 days that we have scheduled for getting ready, getting to Geraadsbergen and making it back home from the finish line, we made the final preparation within some short hours after we handed over the kids and the train was about to depart. For my personal routine it was no big thing to go through the checklist and select all relevant stuff, not 100% sure how Nico was feeling about it. As she already knows about packing as small as possible, there might be a little change to the next adventure, which is normal for everyone of us. Stuff packed, tools as well, first set of sugars and nuts as well. Off we go then. We reached Brussels in the early morning of the starting day and rode over to Geraadsbergen by bike, as usual. We had a silent ride through the village as it was just about to wake up, at 0730 in the morning. First thing we did was climbing the muur, so fears could be addressed. After that, we descended back into the city center for a nice breakfast. The idea was bigger than the result, as my favorite place was not serving breakfast any more, they were only having Jägermeisters in the early morning already. So we settled down on market place with coffee to go, juices, pains au chocolat, croissaints and two eclairs -Nico‘s favorites-. It did not take long time until we met the first riders. The show started, latest when we headed down to the registration. Many familiar faces, many new faces, time for Nico to dive into this wonderful world/ family!
Formal registration was organized best, this time. No hours of waiting, smooth processing and finally holding two hats with the same number in our hands. Yes, it was going to happen, we were approved to set off! We had plenty of great talks with friends, and new members of the family, of course now it was time to have a good look on other riders setups and bikes, always trying to find small details and solutions that had the potential to optimize one‘s very own setup. After some hours of chatting, we decided to have a little lunchtime rest at the riverside, in the middle of the village. It was not made for resting, as also other rider realized, that it was us. So the resting plan was cancelled again. Getting into tcr-mode at home, almost from business as usual rush, no proper sleep during the night before the race and also no proper rest during daytime. Not the perfect conditions, but hey, this is going to be an adventure, a great one! Soak in everything you can, meet as many people as you want, the vibes are very special and the weather invited for staying out, having tons of café‘s and lunches with so many guys! It does not really make sense with whom we met, for sure I would forget someone.
Next stop, race briefing and hand over of brevet cards. Finally all riders come together for the race briefing. Anna introduced the main crew and all supporters, went through the major important point of the race manual. Of course some recorded words from Mike were not missing! After receiving the brevet cards, riders left the scene again to meet again on market place again around 2130 for starting off at 2200. As last year, we decided to climb the muur again and go for dinner up there, together with the french connection as last year. It was still loud but way calmer than staying down town with the crowd. On our way down I quickly wanted to pack my stuff nicely as I threw everything into my bags. It happened my selected rearrangement place was just next to Caroline‘s final decision making location, so the two ladies discussed her issues and I took the minutes that I needed to packing my things as compact as possible.
Starting into the first night.
Having met some more riders, took even more pictures and slowly headed off after the major of Geraadsbergen rang the bell! Same procedure as every year, one escorted circle around the city, then finally climbing the muur and seeing all the red lights moving into all possible directions. Finally we cycled until midnight or one more hour and decided to take a rest, just close to one of the many war monuments Belgium. My habit always was to rest close to the road so I could hear other riders pass.
NICO: I never slept better during this TCR than in that night!