Diekirch Valkenswaard 2008
Diekirch-Valkenswaard is a 250 km long cycling race from Luxembourg to the Netherlands. This year we rode it for the second time. Last year we arrived very early, we hoped to do at least as well this year.
The start at 7 o'clock
We were at the starting line at 6 o'clock even though the race wouldn't start until 7. We wanted to make sure we started up front. At first the starting gun malfunctioned, but then we were on our way.
We received our first stamp, there would be several more checkpoints along the way
Right from the start we were in a small group of cyclists. After 10 km a very fast group passed, which we moved into. In the first long descend and the following hills the group fell apart again. Especially during the climbs we managed to move forward several places toward the front. On the flat sections we had to pay attention not to cycle into anyone and stay ahead, some people were definitely less used to cycle in groups. We arrived at the first checkpoint in approximately 40th position. Last year we had taken short breaks at every stop, but now we just kept going. We wanted to finish among the first 100 cyclists.
The first checkpoint in St. Vith.
We were in 40th position, 17 minutes behind the first cyclist
It was supposed to get 28 degrees Celsius. Only after 13:00 did it get a bit hot, which was nice because that meant we didn't really suffer from the heat. After the first stop we were in a group of 10 cyclists. It was one of the fastests groups in the race. There were two other men cyclist fast, the rest was just hanging in the rear. I thought it was going way too slow so cycled off, Bart only caught up with me after a few minutes. A few cyclists from the main group joined as well.
After a long climb we reached a descent. We went 'only' 50 km/h which felt slow compared to the descends we had cycled in the Pyrenees. At the second checkpoint we stopped a bit longer. The other group had continued already, but we caught up a few kilometers later. Without us they didn't go nearly as fast. They said they were happy the 'locomotives' were back again. From the second to the third checkpoint it was again very hilly. We went a bit slower than last year, knowing we still had a long way to go. From our group of 8 only 5 cyclists remained after this hilly section.
After the third stop the remainder of the race would be mostly flat. It was still about 85 km to the finish line though. We figured that would take about 3 hours. Bart had a hard time hanging on and was getting cramps. The group was going about 37 km/h. I was keeping track of Bart, but knew that if we would drop out of the group, the last 50 km would be much harder and slower. Fortunately, Bart managed to cling on. With just 5 km to go two people raced off. Bart and I decided it would be better to stay with the group. A few kilometers later we caught up with the two cyclists again. I wanted to take a sprint to the finish line, but Bart was stuck behind an old lady that wasn't supposed to be cycle on the race track. Soon he cycled passed her and we raced to the finish.
At the finish we got our last stamps. The entertainer there talked a bit with Bart. In the adjacent bar we received our medals. We had arrived at 15:05, in 24th and 26th position (out of about ~1000 participants).
Our finish time compared to the other participants, our finish time is indicated with red lines