I walked my legs out from under my body, explored my inner world completely and cleaned every kitchen cupboard. Time to venture out into the wide world … to the limit. Literally: the Amstel Gold Race course runs through the municipalities of Valkenburg aan de Geul, Maastricht and Eijsden-Margraten.
The area is teeming with cyclists on this sunny Saturday. From cyclists to mountain bikers and your reporter on an e-bike. I took it for granted that I saw my age (33) rise with every meter on this ‘senior bike’. After all, the end justifies the means: the editors were curious how an e-bike would perform under tough conditions.
The touring bike that I rented at Cycle Center in Valkenburg has, in addition to seven gears, also three electric settings: eco, normal or high. Via the small bicycle computer on the handlebar, you can easily choose one of the three, intended to support pedaling.
On a flat stretch, the eco mode is more than enough to move forward effortlessly. On a slight slope, normal gives enough support and on a tough climb the high position is my best friend. In all cases, the force I have to apply with my legs is negligible.
The 134 meter high Cauberg, the first hill on the course from Valkenburg, I therefore effortlessly climb up. There is not one puff or a little bit of acidification in my legs. My gear is slightly higher, so I make more revolutions with my pedals, but that’s it. I feel guilty towards the cyclists I overtake who climb hard.
As I whistle up, I understand why the Cauberg is so famous: around the hill you will find plenty of entertainment. That already starts in Valkenburg itself, where restaurants and cafes normally provide fun. A little further up I pass the entrance of the Municipal Cave, an impressive marl quarry (unfortunately closed).
Higher up, near the first corner, is the provincial resistance monument (closed). About halfway up the Cauberg I see the entrance to the spa Thermae 2000 (closed) and the Holland Casino (you guessed it: closed). It is poignant to see how many companies are closed, even though I have only traveled half a kilometer. Fortunately, the beautiful Limburg landscape and the steep slopes and descents offer plenty of entertainment.
After the Cauberg I cycle through the tiny village of Vilt and then I zoom to Geulhem where I take a steep descent towards Berg. I pull out all the stops to go down the hill as fast as possible. My emotional age drops to about sixteen in less than half a minute.
In Berg I order a water from one of the catering entrepreneurs who has put a room next to the road. The entrepreneurs are happy that the Amstel Gold Race can continue after it had to be canceled last year. “Unfortunately now without an audience. Normally it is very nice on this part, but the whole area is hermetically sealed. Fortunately, our bed & breakfast is still full of the cyclists themselves. ”
I continue the round with fresh courage. Signs with ‘Amstel Gold Race’ and routes 1, 2 and 3 send me in the right direction. Once the routes split up I decide to follow 1. I enjoy the tranquility and scenery, until a solid half hour later I realize that I still haven’t finished those seventeen kilometers. A quick look at Google shows me that I made a stupid mistake: I’m cycling one of the original, much longer routes.
Since the bike has to be back at the rental company at 5 pm and the clock strikes four, I decide to turn around, towards Valkenburg. This alternative route takes me past the impressive estate of Château St. Gerlach, where I pick up a cappuccino from coffee bar Burgemeester Quicx (recommended!) And drink it on a park bench with the sun in my face.
I realize that it doesn’t take much to make a person happy. Sun, coffee and an e-bike are sufficient.
The Amstel Gold Race starts on April 18 (if corona permits) at 12.15 pm. Cycle the original routes yourself? Look at visitzuidlimburg.nl.
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