IMAU team challenged by the Eleven City Tour

From left to right: Paul, Luuk, Tim, Roderik and Emille.

4 January 1997 was the last time the famous ice-skating tour ‘Elfstedentocht’ (Eleven City Tour) was organized. This year it is 25 years later, making painfully clear what the effect of climate change is. That is why Cycling4Climate decided to organize the Elfstedentocht for bikes, so that it could take place regardless of the weather. Cycling4Climate wants to raise awareness of climate change, by providing 2000 brave cyclists a nice day out in the Frysian flatlands. The Elfsteden-bike tour was originally planned to take place on 4 January, to commemorate 25 years without the real thing, but was postponed to 13 March because of the corona pandemic. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise: on 4 January it was 4 degrees with strong winds and showers, compared to 14 degrees and sunny conditions on 13 March!

In the early morning, an IMAU team of five cyclists gathered at the Elfsteden-ice skating hall in Leeuwarden, to start the 200-kilometer-long challenge. We were encouraged by live music at the start, and we were followed by our awesome IMAU van, filled with food. After 40 kilometers (and two of the eleven cities), we got hot chocolate and gingerbread, before continuing with headwind towards the next cities. The rest of the day was filled with small towns, lots of cyclists, traditional food (‘Snert’, thick Dutch pea soup, with ryebread), iconic bridges and quite some sunshine! At the end of the day, all five cyclists made it to the finish, where we could pick up our ‘Elfstedenkruisje’ and a plate of lasagna, before turning back to Utrecht with slightly heavier legs.

Tim van den Akker