Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships
Each year, on the windiest day of the year, the Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships take place on the Oosterscheldekering Storm Surge Barrier.
Over 200 competitors ride the 8.5 km course against 100+ km/hr winds on upright single-speed, Dutch-style bikes. This championship has become my new goal.
Around 200 individuals take part each year setting off at intervals in a time trial format; there is also a team event. The inaugural race was won by Olympic mountain biker Bart Brentjens in a time of 17 minutes and 51 seconds, which is still the course record.
The wind on the day is measured using the Beaufort scale which rates the wind force on a scale from 0 to 12. Developed in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort it is a system for representing and reporting wind speed using empirical measurements that relate wind speed to observed conditions. For the race to go on, wind is supposed to be blowing at seven (50 to 60 kph winds) or above on the Beaufort scale which is classified as near gale force.
The championships are announced three days ahead of time when a storm is forecast. 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.”