Lon Las Cymru – 2022
Rapha Prestige Charleroi
The Rapha Prestige Charleroi was an epic and legendary day with Sanne (Our Captain), Nash, Hildo, David and Irwan who also took these awesome photos. 180km, 2500m elevation, 1 flat and big smiles all around.
INFMS CC Autumn Ride
For our October group ride we created a flat route on the edge of the Veluwe which took in trails very few people ride. Singletrack through and around farm fields, some hardpack gravel across heather fields and lots of other forest path and the odd bit of asphalt to connect it all. The weather was a fresh but sunny 16 degrees and was an absolute blessing at this time of year.
We set off with a group of 35 people, one of our biggest gatherings for a group ride to date. Starting at our local bakery, Jorisbrood we took off on the 92km route and smaller groups former quickly according to the riders speed. Some finished the route in one go, others stopped for cofofr coffee and itterballen en route.
We were welcomed back to Jorisbrood and had beers and fries sponsored by the good folks at Rapha Amsterdam. Joost picked himself up some Pindakaas with Citroenblad en chilli peper and we rejoiced in the sun listening to the live music and enjoying the aftertaste of a beautiful ride in the countryside.
Dirty Boar – July 2021
After years on the ‘To-Do’ list, the day finally came when Steve and Melvin could roll down to Eupen, park the car and depart on a 170km journey through the stunning Ardennes and Eifel National Park. The route was about 90% Off road with tarmac only on a few climbs (thankfully) and connecting segments.
Firstly I want to give thanks and praise to the route builders. There is no shortage of trails here but to curate such a route that flows nicely and has been considered sensibly is a real feat. Equally challenging as it is beautiful… right up our street. Kudos folks!
We parked at the bridge/ Dam near Eupen and set off first westerly. This enabled us to cover 90km in he Ardennes first where we climbed 1500m and came back past the car allowing us to refuel with food and swap out bottles plus allow us to travel light instead of carrying the whole days supplies. This proved to be a real advantage and the route in this direction was ace.
Heading into the Eifel we noticed the different vibe immediately. A contrast in the gravel, the forest it all seemed a little more mellow until the climbs started to creep back past 10% and then it all felt a little more familiar. Its funny to start the day speaking French and end it speaking German to passer bys mind.
The gravel was great – real gravel…not the perfectly manicured hardpack and crisp gravel we have on many dutch ‘fietspad’ but real rocks, shingle paths that can be muddy, wet and slippery make you focus and really be present. It all felt much more adventurous and exciting but then again the grass is always greener so I could be a little over romantic.
Big up Melvin for joining on this epic day and crushing it despite riding 80km the day before and running a 44 x 30 gear ratio on his 1x cross bike. The ride couldn’t have been an more enjoyable than with this guy.
Retül bike fit at Specialized NL/BE HQ
In April this year, Steven was fortune enough to pick up his Specialized Diverge Comp, an out an out gravel adventure bike ready for anything you can throw at it. It features the most innovative and mindful design setting the bar high for the industry to follow – From future shock suspension in the stem to SWAT storage possibilities plus a gravel/offroad specific geometry for comfort and performance, AND huge tyre possibilities it is an incredible machine! Proven so far by us in the Veluwe, Bikepacking North to South Nederland on MTB trails plus offroad in the Ardennes and Eifel in Belgium and Germany respectively.
However what is a bike worth if you do not fit it properly? Bike fit is crucial and actually I would go as far as saying is more important than the bike itself. A Win-Win if you happen to have a sweet bike too then.
Not fitting correctly on a bike can bring a number of misfortunes – from injury to poor performance and ultimately displeasure and disappointment on a bike… thats not the point right? Having investigated many bike fit options I kept coming back to Retul technology for their in depth and innovative approach to getting it right for the customer for the long term and relentless approach to accuracy backed by facts.
We are hugely grateful to Peter Kraaijvanger at Specialized NL/BE for making the time to take Steven through a fit last week at their new Head office in Arnhem, Gelderland. It was an invaluable experience. Check this video of Peter fitting LTD for a visual impression of the steps I mention below.
- Intake – A great way to start and get familiar with one another. Here you have the chance to explain your cycling history, upcoming plans and ambitions on the bike and to inform of any injuries, niggles or past experiences you want to avoid and correct. We noted the following for Steven – Left knee pain, saddle pain also on the left side and that long distance gravel riding was the goal (3-4 rides a week / 250-300km).
- Flexility tests – Jumping on and off the massage bed to measure together hamstring flexibility, ankle/achilles flexibility and hip range. Floor tests were also done to check back and hip flexibility. Conclusion – Steven is pretty flexible with a good range all over so can ride in quite an aggressive position but noting that the right hip does dip and rise slightly compared to the left hip. Good to be aware of!
- Sitbone measurements on the retail digital device. 3 tests are taken here and an average sit bone width is calculated to determine the right size saddle for the individual sit bones. Steven had a width of 111mm for his sit bones and so a saddle of 143mm wide would fit well. A Specialized Phenom saddle was recommended by Peter after not only using the info provided by the device but also his personal experience riding off road in an aggressive position and finding this model appropriate. Needless to say the difference compared to the Ergon SR saddle was noticeable and a huge relief. Stevens sit bones were fully supported without any interference in the channel to his privates!
4. Feet, Arches, Insoles, cleat position and Shoes! Using another Retul device we measured Stevens feet and focussed on the arch which in his case was very high and so in need of the right support. The current Rapha explore shoes and insoles catered insufficiently to his needs and so Peter suggested not only Specialized insoles but Custom, heat moulded insoles to get the support Steven specifically needed. Onto another device where cushioning surrounds the foot and takes an imprint of the individual foot to then create the custom insole. Magic! and so specific to the individual needs. While these were forming, Peter connected Steven unto the cables so we could start to measure his current position.
5. As the photo at the top shows, Steven then hopped onto the bike and his current position was taken – like a before and after snapshot. The high res camera and cables connected to give information on all body movements on the bike and to show how correct or incorrect Steven was setup for the best performance.
6. The Analysis showed that Steven actually needed substantial change to his setup. His position was way too far back and so the saddle and stem needed to be moved forwards 4cm. Thats a big change! Saddle height was set quite accurately but now further forward he was much more connected with the bike, could handle it better at high speeds and on changing terrain, plus could eliminate saddle and knee pain. With all the analysis and numbers now pointing in the right direction we setup the bike fully and put the new insoles in the shoes for a final check. Bingo – everything feels like new and Steven couldn’t wait to go and test it out… No test better than a 170km gravel ride 🙂
To conclude, the fit took 2 – 2.5 hours from start to finish which is actually pretty quick considering all the in depth steps (even some additional manual checks Peter took) along with changing the seat post, saddle, stem, making the custom insoles and more. Needless to say the next days ride was a huge success – 170km in the Belgische Ardennes and German Eifel national park with 2600m of climbing and NO PAIN…Just pure performance and enjoyment. Fantastic!
You can check the Specialized website or Retul site directly for more info. A google search will also bring up some options for a Retul fit close to you. Thanks for reading and for sure drop any questions!
INFMS CC Gravel ride : Maasduinen
Continuing on from the Women’s gravel series we opened up this ride to all – A fully all inclusive open ride. With two distance options to choose – 90km or the full 125km it was set to be a great day.
Starting in Groesbeek with hill climbs of 8% immediately it was no easy start. After cruising through the forests of Groesbeek the route headed east towards Reichswald in Germany where another beautiful forest area awaited. The views across Groesbeek towards Reichswald are stunning especially for the Netherlands. Its a landscape you don’t see often until your down in Zuid Limburg. In the Reichswald there are big open gravel paths which are fast and hardpack which help on the climbs which even reach upto 18% gradient. Luckily they are short and mostly followed by fast descents.
Enter the Maasduinen. A flat and fast hardpack race track around beautiful lakes and dunes which just appear out of nowhere. In the Maasduinen we had a pit stop where cakes and banana bread courtesy of Havenmeester in Arnhem were welcomely received.
Out of the Maasduinen and along the river back to Mook where some brutal last climbs awaited the crew before beers and banter in the car park. Stoked!
Women’s Gravel ride & Overnighter – Achterhoek
Its hard to believe that its mid April and we were forecasted a night with the temperature of 1 degree Celsius! That however did not dissuade any of the hardy campers who joined with Women’s gravel ride and campout last weekend.
We had a radical group of 12 Ladies join for the departure at Camping Distelhoeve near Doetinchem for a 85km ride. Cem and Steven provided the coffee stop and dinner by wood fire in the evening. Pretty much all the women who rode also camped which made for a very cosy and heartwarming evening campfire with stories being shared and plenty of laughs. Tonic for the soul!
The route was a nice mix of hardpack Achterhoek gravel with some sand roads, single track and a fair bit of asphalt to connect the sections. Montferland and its infamous climbs and forest tracks got visited and the weather was fairly decent.
Cem prepared an epic dinner for the crew – all cooked above a wood fire. Flatbreads, Bulgur salad, Fennel and Appel salad, Organic chicken skewers and mixed vegetables fed the hungry bunch which was a great reward after a nice ride. For breakfast we fired up the pit once again and made pancakes with fresh fruit topping and a variety of yoghurts, sauces to accompany the breakfast.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next Infms campout!
Trans Nederland Noord>Zuid MTB route
On a cold, wet and windy Saturday 10 April, Steven and Melvin met up in Groningen before heading off the next morning for Eemshaven on the north coast. Joking about essential items and sharing a pair of boxers, the mood was light and the boys tucked in eventually for a short nights sleep.
It was an early Sunday morning departure, so early that they almost missed the train. The boys were greeted with a gruelling headwind for the 8km they needed to ride in order to get to the official start point. That with bikes weighing 16 and 18kg was a confrontational and unnerving start. What was in store remained completely unknown. The boys had to just commit to the adventure and face what came across their path.
The headwind turned to tailwind straight away helping them see away the first 30km pretty quickly until a crosswind section on grass above a canal for almost 5km really took the wind out of their sails.
A few lovely little trails through orchards were a touch, breaking up the tarmac before the guys got into Drenthe and some familiar mtb routes such as Gieten. With wet and cold weather energy was constantly low and there were hardly any places to refuel. The going was tough and fast! It was going to be a long day to get the head down and bite the bullet.
Rocking into camp in Diffelen (de Klashorst) and ordering last minute pizza was a huge stroke of luck and a great reward after a tough but still enjoyable day – 165km in the books.
DAY 2 Started wonderfully. Last nights hut did the job of keeping them warm and dry enough for the night and starting straight on gravel in the early sun was amazing. THE best way to start a day! Stoked.
The going was slow with constant stopping for adjusting saddles, grabbing food, refixing bags to bikes. Eventually we got in a stride around Lemmelerberg where the scenery was fantastic and the trails a real joy – flowing easy mtb trails and fairly good weather. From there, past Nijverdal and into Sallantse Heuvelrug… SUBLIME Gravel and a big breakfast / cake stop before pushing into the Achterhoek. This was turning into a party.
The pace slowed as Stevens knee started to ache but the lads pushed on again finding it hard to refuel when they really needed to. The balance between bringing supplies vs weight on the bike is a very tough one and only one you can learn by doing these trips and finding what works best for you.
We found camp at a beautiful spot in Hummelo (Camping Jena) near Doetinchem as another little trekkershut awaited us. This time the heater working better and promise of burgers and chips for dinner nearby. Score. Just as we started tucking into dinner the phone rang – Stevens wife tested positive for Covid. This had many implications on the trip but the immediate outcome was that Steven had to go home and look after his wife and kids. Tragic and pretty heartbreaking but necessary.
DAY 3 after the spanner in the works was about covid tests, route changes and decisions, decisions, decisions. Melvin cracked on down south and struck camp at the third and final night before Vaals the following day. Maasduinen got a quick look but not as much as we wanted to due to the route going through a large part of germany and so a drastic route change. Germany is proving very strict regarding visitors right now.
On the final day, with a negative test result in the pocket and a girlfriend waiting to celebrate his birthday at home, Melvin cracked on for Vaals with a fair bit of climbing and fun mtb routes to keep him entertained. Like a true champ, the young Frysyan did it – 560km in 4 days unsupported and his first bikeapcking trip! Well done Melvin – Legendary status.
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Equal pay for Women pro cyclists
In response to the prize money discrepancy bought to attention after the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Cem started a crowdfunding campaign to raise prize money for women pro’s. Raising attention and sharing posts was not enough for Cem who believes action is needed for change to occur. The initial goal was to raise 5000 euro to share among the top 5 finishers of Strade Bianche however news spread quickly and cycling fans around the world poured in donations and support for the cause. As a result the money raised was actually higher than the men’s prize money, showing the UCI how fans really feel and how ridiculous, unfair and outdated their current rules and regulations are. Together with The Cyclists Alliance, Cem is continuing to work to make real progress and offer solutions for Women’s pro cyclists to get the respect, and reward they deserve. Proud of you buddy!
Caps for a cause
We created a cap in collaboration with Rapha to raise funds for two local grassroots organisations we support. AMI (Awareness Moluccan Identity) is a social and cultural group who exist to celebrate the identity of people in the Netherlands of Moluccan heritage, The other group we support is Zuid Veluwe MTB who are the local trail maintenance organisation. Not only will we be donating funds to support both groups financially but we will also offer time, expertise and helping hands to be as actively involved as possible.
Camp Infamous, Veluwe 2020
In late September the wider Infms family descended on a campsite in Schaarsbergen for the first ever Infamous campout. The plan was one epic off road ride in the Veluwe (175km all unpaved), good company and team bonding plus some wholesome food and camp vibes. Willy was on hand to capture some memorable images and Nick and Charissa were shooting away for an upcoming film project, ‘Prosper & Refuge’.