While my friends in the US are relearning dismounts and counting days rather than weeks for their first race those of us cross the pond are just thinking about the season. No, we're not all on holiday, the season here doesn't start until October and real racing a month after that. Of course a less than summer like August gets the spirit going, if not the legs too. Still some long days on the road before riding turns to dirt full time.
A family visit in the afternoon provides a the perfect reason for the first ride in the Strijbeek woods. A voice greeted us from across the hedge as we unloaded, the Dutch 50-60 master champion had just finished washing a bike from his morning ride. He noted our fenders, for training rides a requirement. The woods are great for riding big skinny tires; some paved path, forest singletrack and leg busting climbs. Climbs? In western Holland? The climbs here go for hundreds of meters in all directions, just not uphill. Climbs here are endless millimeters the depth your tires sink into the wet sand. When the legs can no longer push forward the paved path lets you scramble back to the group, hop off and you're climbing again.
With knobs covered in fresh sandy mud the season's first ride is done. Soon every weekend will have a split personality, clean days for the mind and muddy ones for the soul.