Day 72: Closing the project

So this is it, my final post on this blog. Timi and I leaving to the US, officially marks the end of this road cycling project. While these past 72 days have been quite the blast, I wanted to take the time to properly reflect back on them and draw a more nuanced conclusion.

To be honest, overall, my feeling for this project was one of mediocre success. That is because throughout, I had an underlying feeling of pressure and stress. I think there were a couple of reasons for this: We were working on a relocation to the US (waiting for our visas to the US to get through and all the insecurity associated with that), so I did not really have a definite end day for the project. In fact, we only knew on June 22nd that we were going to leave for the US the next day. Despite quitting my job, I still supervised a student and occasionally connected to Uni. Moreover, I participated in a one-week conference in Montreal, which left me with a week without cycling, but a lot of jet lag. So, while 72 days initially sounds abundant, time became quite precious fragmented quickly. Finally, this blog cost time and energy, too. Apart from the initial setting up of the blog, producing high-quality posts consistently, was occasionally draining: Stopping to take pictures, selecting pictures, editing pictures, writing, correcting spelling mistakes, finding links … all in all, a post like this one is about 3 hours worth of work for me. I am still glad I did record almost every ride in writing and not just in Strava activities.

What I did not accomplish

  • Participating in a race. I eyed the Saltbommel Tijdrijderscup, a series of shortish time trials in Zaltbommel, but having arrived from Montreal just the day before, I did not feel great. Looking at the average speed of the participants, I would have been slaughtered, I think.

  • I did not go to the gym to do complementary strength training. Somehow, I struggled even doing enough cycling, so going to the gym was out of the question. I did do a few Yoga practices, and the progress in those was amazing.

  • Riding over the Afsluitdijk. That bloody thing got closed just days before I started this project! What a disappointment.

  • I did not ride any of the Belgian classics (but did ride the Amstel Gold, so that kind of equalizes). Weather was not favorable, plus I rode over some hefty cobbles during one of the rides and did not feel too inspired of an entire day of doing just doing this. This is the thing I regret least, because I think those steep ramps would have required a different gearing, too.

Overall, with 2,400km, I felt like I could have cycled more. An average of 33km/day does not really sound a lot, but combined with all other things that were going on, and the weather really not being nice (last year, spring and early summer was much more pleasant in the Netherlands), I think it is still OK. Actually, I thought in the beginning whether I should aim for 3,000km, but doing a bit of back-on-the-envelope math, that seemed quite optimistic. A statistics that surprised me was the elevation gain I did. Given that the Netherlands is mostly pancake flat, over 6,000 meters seems fairly high! Probaly caused by the dunes close to Den Haag and the one ride with Martin with 1,400 meters helped, too. Plus, there might be some GPS inaccuracies. What I do regret is that I never really got into a standard routine of putting on my gear and have completely standardized spots where I put my things. Many times, this meant I was looking for my sun glasses, helmet, Wahoo Elemnt Bolt (that one was really bad), …

What I did accomplish

  • I focused on ‘social’ rides with Timi, my family, and friends. I would not want to have missed any of those, and this really was the nicest part of this whole endeavor: Doing so many rides with Timi, with my dad and Nora (both together and separately), with Martin and Jorrin was core to this experience.

  • I nicely filled my cycling map of the Netherlands. See a comparison of before and after the project. Mapping getting

  • Riding the iconic parts of the Amstel Gold race was just fantastic. Big thanks to Timi for the inspiration.

  • I did get pretty fit, but comparing my stats to people who consistently cycle a lot showed me what specific fitness really is.

  • I really started to understand how to ride a road bike (there is much more to learn of course!).

  • Planning routes with Komoot and then riding them on my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is just fantastic. The difference it makes in riding unknown areas is huge.

  • I learned a lot about bike maintenance. Frankly, I thought I knew something before I started, but then I (practically) learned so much more during this project, be it newer technology such as 11-speed, tubeless tires, or just road-specifics like wrapping handle bar tape.

  • I assembled a nice set of tools to replace cassettes, chains, and cog sets. I should be able to do almost all repairs on the bike (and have the appropriate tools, too).

  • Gotten my behind pretty sore at the end of the project, so I am not saying it was not good to have some time to heal.

What I will change next time

Overall, this was a great experience. I think it would have helped if I had entered on a higher fitness/biking level into the project. I should have started training more seriously way before the project began, parallel to work, and then at one point make the switch and suddenly find that I would have much more time for training. Well, I definitely acquired that higher level throughout the project.

  • I will likely not write a blog about it, and instead focus on training.

  • Go for shorter 1 or 2 hour rides more often. I skipped those a couple of times because I had originally planned something longer and did not have enough time to do that anymore.

  • Have a detailed schedule. I did not have one mainly because I wanted to remain opportunistic about the weather.

  • Do something crazy once in a while.

  • Have better weather. ;)

Some stats

Project duration: 72 days
Number of activities: 39 (33 rides, 2 runs, 3x Yoga, 1x climbing)
Number of blog posts: 36
Length: 2413,4 km (33,5 km/day; 73 km/ride)
Duration: 108 hours 26 mins (1.5 hours/day, 3 hour/activity)
Elevation gain: 6,693m 
FTP: 195 Watts 

Until next time!


Moritz Beller

Moritz Beller

My name is Moritz Beller. I became a full time cycling pro amateur around the Netherlands and beyond to fill a time gap between jobs after temporarily leaving my post-doc at TU Delft. In this blog, I want to share what I experience during my time on and off the road.