The rain is beating against the window, force 8 to 9 winds are expected along the Dutch coast today. Not the best weather for cyclists to go out on the roads unless they really have to, you'd think. But don't underestimate Dutch cyclists. Three hundred of them will battle it out with the wind - for fun! - on one of Holland's most windy locations, the Oosterschelde Dam, in the second edition of the Dutch Cycling with Headwind Championships.
The famous Oosterschelde Dam on a good day. Photo © Holland-Cycling.com
The Oosterschelde Dam - one of Holland's great engineering pride and joys - is designed to protect the Dutch lowlands from flooding during heavy storms, like the one today. It's also one of the country's most windy and exposed locations. Even in the best of weathers cyclists dread headwinds on this 8.8 km-stretch of dam, which offers no protection whatsoever against the wind. Cycling across the dam with a force 8 to 9 headwind is certainly not for the fainthearted. Some even call it 'the ultimate Dutch mountain'.
A storm is coming!
This is the second year the Dutch Cycling with Headwind Championships are being held. They're seen as 'a heroic cycling competition on a traditional Dutch Gazelle bike [an upright bike with no gears, ed.], against one of Holland's most notorious cycling annoyances: the Dutch headwind'. Last year, the organisers considered force 5 winds a big enough challenge. This year they set the challenge a bit higher, at force 8 winds.
On 9 December, they posted a message on their Facebook page announcing: 'A storm is coming! The Dutch Cycling with Headwinds Championships will be held on Thursday'. Within a day the maximum number of 300 contestants had registered for the championships. Money raised will go to charity.
The first cyclists will be setting off at 12 a.m. Dutch time. You can follow the competition via the NK Tegenwindfietsen 2014 Facebook page (in Dutch).
Update 12 December
The winning time for the men was 18:06 and for the women 22:34. All contestants made it to the finish. So congratulations everybody!