110km is a long way for me to ride, particularly on a new bike with a new saddle. The Classico Boretti is sponsored by the makers of Italian kitchen appliances, and by the end of the trip I felt as if I’d completed the distance carrying an oven and sitting on a gas burner.
My fellow riders seemed to take it all very seriously. There were 6500 starters, according to the Boretti website. Everyone lining up at 7.30am by the Amsterdam Velodrome had a road bike which made my new Kona Jake cyclocross look like a labrador in a field of greyhounds.
Many of the boys (and only a few brave girls) were wearing their cycling club team jerseys. Just owning a club jersey suggests more commitment to the sport than wearing a Rabobank shirt available at any Decathlon store.
The rest of us wore our new Boretti shirts, in Italian green, white and red. I like mine very much, the more so because it was ‘free’, included in the modest 15 euro entry fee.
The flag went down, and we went off. Officially the Classico Boretti is not a race, but it appeared a lot of riders had placed good money on their predicted finishing time, or were out to beat the boys from Philips Engineering or ING Insurance. The pace was hot.
This was not the type of ride where you exchange banter with the rider rolling along beside you. It was heads down and tails up, concentrating on the wheel of the rider in front and any chatter was of the ‘We’re averaging 29km per hour – come on, boys, let’s push it up to 30!’ kind.
The roads and cycleways were shared with other users, and there were occasional near misses as speeding pelotons pulled out to overtake a rider (often me) and met an elderly couple with the shopping bags pedalling sedately towards them.
The route took us through the backblocks of Amsterdam to the North Sea Canal, past the prosperous town of Bloemendaal and out to the North Sea beaches. It dipped into the undulating dune area.
Don’t let anyone tell you there are no hills in Holland – according to my computer we climbed a massive 201m over the ride. There was even a timed hill climb on a steep pinch.
We emerged from the dunes and the route split, the real hardcore riders heading south to make up a 160km loop. 110km was plenty for me, and at times I wondered whether I’d bitten off too much and should have opted for the leisurely 75km option I did in 2010.
For inzoomable route map, click here.
Just as my derriere was telling me it was ‘mad as hell and not going to take it any more’, the landmark windmill near the finish line loomed on the horizon. The 110km loop turned out to be only 103km according to my bike computer, but Garmy also told me that I’d ridden 10.4km to get to and from the event, so honour was still satisfied. I’d earned my complimentary bowl of pasta.
And yes, if you were there in person, you’ll notice that the photos are ones I took at last year’s Boretti.
This year my camera mysteriously disappeared from my pannier somewhere near the finish. Losing it is a real pain in the butt, which is of course the last thing a cyclist needs.