A fantastic day and a great experience!
From men with beards to well-dressed bike racers, we saw them all on Saturday, September 17, during the first FFWD Gravelride. The weather was just as colorful as the field of riders which provided just that extra elements so that afterwards everyone could say: what a ride!
As every first time is always exciting, this first edition of the FFWD Gravelride was also a nice challenge for TeamFFWD to put their capabilities to the test. How many riders will adopt our enthusiasm, how smoothly do we get everything running, and of course what does the weather do.
Close after a hot summer and looking towards autumn it is always a matter of surprise with the weather. What we got in the end with just a few showers from the cloud, a good and hard breeze and a nice cycling temperature turned out to be exactly what we needed. Of course it does not have to be that easy. The number of riders was above expectations, the earlybirds who signed up immediately after opening registration surprised us positively!
With good coffee for a little extra sharpness in the eyes, and a tasty cookie for fuel in the first part of the ride, the doors opened at 9:30. The friendly atmosphere was there from the start which was of course a pleasant detail. Due to the weather forecast, a little bit of tension could be read from the faces here and there, something that quickly disappeared after a pleasant chat and glance through the production hall where hundreds of carbon wheels stood neatly shining on the racks. The nice WOW from those who never visit FFWD before was clearly visible and was of course very nice for the TeamFFWD guys.
From 10:00 it was ready for the "grand depart". The last energy bars from Bye Nutrition disappeared into the back pockets for some spare fuel along the way. Thanks to the navigation from the accurate GPX routes, which the riders had received the day before, we started off nicely in groups of about 10, ideal to keep each other out of the wind, and also better in the traffic.
Okay we already reveal a little bit about the weather, there were some (strong) rain showers on the way and there was a nice wind blowing from the west which we were very happy with for an great extra piece of Dutch flavour. The course was top notch, even ideal actually because the dusty top layer of the unpaved sections had disappeared in the week before the ride so you could ride like a real gravel racer.
Until a few kilometers after we passed the small town Dalfsen, after about 20 kilometers of the ride, both distances (65 and 120 kilometers) rode the same course, before the route was split. The 65 turned right towards Heino where the 120 went left for a bigger loop near Ommen. A fun element in the 120 kilometer course was a self-operated ferry that took you across the river Vecht in groups of about 10 people. After about 10 minutes you were on the other side where you could sincerely experience one of the most beautiful parts of the Salland route.
After about 90 kilometers of touring over varied surfaces through Salland, at 30 kilometers from the finish both routes came together again for a finale with beautiful unpaved roads, and above all: wind! Around Heino (the birthplace of Henk Schipper) lies an amazing collection of gravel paths that even managed to surprise the riders from the region. And be honest, that is the fantastic aspect of graveling, being surprised and discovering new places every time!
To provide the returning riders with well-deserved (and well good-tasting) Koerspret beers, former professional cyclist Peter Koning had completed the 65-kilometer route with an average power of 340 watts, which is pretty hard, so he was well in time. All ready and installed, the riders could enter one by one, or group by group and enjoy the next part of the joy.
The 65 kilometer riders were obviously the first to arrive, many of whom were allowed to brave a rain shower in the final kilometers. Close to the harbor it turned out that hardly anyone was bothered by this, perhaps they knew what was waiting for them on their return :-).
The first finishers of the longest route arrived just under 4 hours after their start, assuming that the FFWD Gravelride is definitely not a race, this means an average of 30 kilometers per hour and that is certainly nice and hard riding. Almost all riders of the longest distance were able to tell afterwards that they rode almost the entire route in dry conditions, only just after the start and a little towards the end some rain turned out to be everything. So you see that in many cases a predicted rainy day turns out to be an almost dry one.
Prepared by the weather forecast, a pressure sprayer was standby so the bikes could be cleaned of the worst dirt. Certainly a good thing for those who transport in the car instead of on a bike carrier, something we see more and more. To get the wet and dirty equipment back in top condition, each rider received a bottle of Dynamic Slick Wax chain lubricant, of course we take care for only the best for your bike!
The gravel ride after party
Not an unimportant part of the day of course, the fun after the ride with French fries and beer! After such a ride through wind and weather, across different landscapes and over a route in which, except for some altimeters, everything was in there, a delicious freshly tapped Koerspret beer is of course is what the true gravel rider loves. Add some freshly baked fries combined with a dose of sociability and the stories of experiences along the way were shared with great pleasure.
If we can summarize this first edition of the FFWD Graveride in one sentence we would say: this was a cool cycling event with exactly the friendly atmosphere we hoped for! Except for one small crach of a TeamFFWD member there were no incidents and all riders went home without physical and/or material damage. As TeamFFWD we all look back on a wonderful day full of wonderful memories.
Until the next ride! You will be there (again), won't you?
Photo credits to our FFWD ambassador @movebeyondaverage