Two weeks notice

For the occasional ‘non-native’ follower, today’s post is in English 🙂

In two weeks from today, I will be struggling on the flanks of the Alpe d’Huez.

Some 5.000 fellow (crazy) Dutch cyclists will be attempting to climb up that famous alp as many times as possible.

The ultimate target being six (6!) times, which means that you will conquer around 6.400 altimeters in approximately 79 kilometers of climbing…

This craziness is called Alpe d’HuZes, “zes” being the Dutch word for six and we do this to raise money for cancer research, so that one day cancer will be a chronic illness instead of a deadly disease.

June 7 is not the only day we’re doing crazy stuff on the alp – the Wednesday is reserved for some 2.500 more lunatics, running, skating and also cycling (but not six times) up the mountain.

I – as most participants – have been preparing for this event for about a year. A year of hard training and raising funds (begging, pleading, putting guns in people’s faces). The motto of the event is “To quit is not an option” and at times you really have to remind yourself why you are doing this.

A cancer patient undergoing treatment cannot just simply say “I don’t feel like having therapy today”, the pain and suffering cannot be taken away for just a couple of days…

Mind you, I’m not even remotely suggesting that my “challenge” is anything close to what a cancer patient is going through – it’s just because it is such a big motivation that I mention it.

I did see people suffer and lose, most recently my mother in law and my neighbor and friend. The latter died under terrible circumstances and my determination grew bigger every day I saw his hopeless struggle.

I was doing fine but on March 11th of this year I crashed during a training round and I broke some ribs, bruised some more, broke my shoulder and bruised my hip.

And had I not been wearing my helmet (which is outright stupid and I always wear mine*), I would have cracked my skull too.

At first I did not realize the severity of the accident – I did have a lot of pain, especially the first two weeks or so, but I was thinking that I would be back on the bike and on (training) schedule way before D-Day. And for sure, it only took me a month to get back on my bike, but then the trouble started. I quickly found out that my climbing abilities were severely affected by the crash…

Shortly after my first ride(s) I was heading to Berchtesgaden for some mountain and altitude climbing. That didn’t go too well, but I was stubborn and still hopeful that “the big six” would be possible. Two weeks later we went to France for more training and there I hit the wall. I struggled for a week, managed every climb I started – including the Alpe d’Huez – but I was throwing up food and drinks more often than not during my climbs.

Flat rides – and boy can you have fun doing that in the Netherlands – are fine, climbing up a serious mountain is something else. That strain is quickly developing into severe pain, leading to nausea and I cannot up the effort or pump up my heart rate to perform to the best of my (normal) abilities. My physician warned me, my physiotherapist did the same but I had to find out for myself. And so I did…

Now, keeping the motto in mind, I still refuse to surrender to the fact that six climbs is a mission impossible. I’d like to say I’ve done crazier things, but that’s not the case. However, I do realize that there is no point in “destroying” myself for the greater cause of raising money to kick some cancer ass.

Not that I would literary destroy anything, but at best I will considerably delay my healing process, which apparently may take as long as a year anyway.

Besides, no one is going to declare me a hero if I do, on the contrary: they will rightfully call me an idiot. And after all: I did fulfill my sponsor target, which is a miracle in itself – I suppose one (miracle) is enough**.

So, I’ll be there cheering for the participants on the 6th and doing my own thing on the 7th – if, in fact, I do make it up there six times, I know for sure that my now dead neighbor “Sufkut Harry”, has been pushing me.

* If you do see pictures of me not wearing my helmet, I’m either not cycling, or I’m cycling – low speed – up a mountain, often under scorching hot condition, with my wife Paula in the car behind me and only if traffic allows.
** But raising 30 million Euro would also qualify I think – that’s our target for 2012 anyway…

Link to the main page with background info on Alpe d’HuZes and my team (