Thursday a week ago I headed for Zwolle after I finished working. I went there to help Paulus wit the DCT 2012 (Dutch Capitals Tour 2012). As I mentioned before I thought it would be fun to do longer rides. This non-stop 1425 kilometer ride didn't apply for now, but it gave me the opportunity to experience it up close. Help was wanted at the check point in Zwolle.
On arrival in Zwolle the preparations were at full speed. Big bins of pasta sauce, piles of food and drink, some twelve beds and an entire system to register riders what time they arrive, when they want to be waked (if necessary) and, very important, if they have received a stamp. But first it was time to eat. Pasta of course! For desert we had pear ice-cream, hmmm! Once in a while during a quiet moment during the next two days, Paulus would ask: "Pear ice-cream?" Of course, yummy!
The riders left Wednesday morning at 10 AM and when the first (official) riders arrived at our check point they had already cycled a minimum of 40 hours. I say official, because at 9:45 PM (four hours before the first official riders) a 'illegal' rider came by. Theo Homan hadn't officially signed up, but was going to ride most of the tour. Only the last bit from Almere we wouldn't do. The last night he didn't sleep at all and this night he was planning to keep going on his rowingbike. He got his stamp, some food and then went on.
Meanwhile it was 3 AM and some five other riders came to get some sleep. Time for us to also get some sleep and let the nightshift (Gerrit and Gerold) do their job. At 7 AM the alarm clock would sound. That night a couple of other riders would stop and sleep a bit. Only rowingbiker Richard Bruijn (this time not on his rowingbike) kept going (maybe he slept briefly, I don't know). What is the deal with these rowingbikers?
During the day riders came in, the ate and drank something, took a shower and did some sleeping (in random order). Food wise they could choose from pasta with red tomato sauce and anchovy, white curry sauce with mushrooms or green sauce with broccoli and spinach. You could also add some chicken or bacon pieces. Besides the pasta there also was a courgette soup á citron (the courgettes are from the next door neighbors garden and the recipe was from James Oliver) and bread. Fruit, bananas and apples, were also available. For each their own.
The other reason I went to Zwolle is to go the De Kleine, a sticker company in Zwolle, to see what is possible for applying stickers to my new Velomobiel.nl QuestXS. I got a call from Hessel (one of the owners). Because they started earlier that day (because of the heat probably) they would also close earlier. They asked if I could come a bit earlier. Fine. As soon is it got a bit quieter at the check point I took Quesjer (Paulus his bike) some 10 kilometer down the road to the other side of Zwolle. On my way there I saw another DCT rider (Sake B.). I guess he though: "Hey, Paulus has changed and how does he get that quickly back at the check point?" On arrival at De Kleine they showed me some possibilities and it all looked good. They quickly put a 'stripe' on the site of the bike for measurements and I had made my choice. They could sticker my bike. Below you can see what I mean by 'stripe'. Do you have any idea about how the new bike is going to look? The one who gets closest will win a prize (no idea what it's going to be).
We tried to support the riders as best as we could with everything. There was a German rider (Torsten Mahnecke) who needed a new saddle because the old one didn't feel comfortable. A bit of a desperate measurement (you don't change shoes for a new pair during a running marathon). Still Paulus cycled with him to the nearest bike shop.
For supporting the riders Paulus had created a form in which all wishes could be written down. It varies from time of arrival, did they receive their stamp, do they want to eat and/or sleep and in which bed et cetera. When they left the all received a bag of Zwolse Balletjes (little balls from Zwolle), a sweet candy which would be able to get them though the low point in the tour. One rider left so quickly that he didn't receive any balls. Paulus quickly jumped into his bike and rode to a point where the riders would pass. When he got there it took less then a minute and the rider came be. He was happy with his balls.
The last rider arrived Friday night at 9:27 PM. To make him feel extra welcome we took a crayon board outside with the text: "Welcome Arthur, come on in!". At 11:57 PM the last riders left and we could sit down and enjoy a beer.
In total we consumed some 4 kg of pasta, just as much as was bought. The consumption of drinks was less. Just 1,5 bottle of cola and 3 containers of juice. Coffee and tea was also available. In total 27 riders spent 1 to 8 hours eating, sleeping, taking a shower of maintaining the bike. Only a few didn't sleep and kept on going.
Other things that were fun and unexpected were the arrival of other cyclist. Wim Brink (a cyclist from Zwolle) and his chauffeur Peter, Kees van de Wetering (velonaut), Evelien Veermand and Harrold Coster (dropout riders) came to see what was going on. Those kind of things are also fun for the people running the check point (us). Anyway, it's done... time for a well earned night sleep.
The next morning I took Paulus his very old, but none the less beautiful, borrowed 1930's bike to go to the center of Zwolle. Saturday night I had a birthday party of Walter in Delft. Time to buy a present. I had plenty of time to wander around the center to find a nice gift... a collection of Belgium beer. It was a bit of a guess, but it turns out he likes his liquor, I found out later that same night. I also went to Bakery Bart to get a yummy sandwich, but when I wanted to pay with my debit card I made a mistake. I accidentally pressed the hashtag button instead of the OK button. Oh, ehhh... and then I didn't remember my PIN in the stress. Wait, I think this is it. No. Oh shit, only one try left. Last time and... yup, my card was blocked. I called the bank and it turns out they could only help me on Monday at the office. When I got back to Paulus I could borrow some money to go to the gas station (I didn't have enough fuel and cash to get to Delft and back home). In 'return' I had to sweep and mop all the rooms. No problem, I had enough time on my hands and I like to mop.