As I was commuting by bike (on a normal bike), they knew I liked cycling and I was invited to join. It made me feel welcome as I only joined 2 months before. Before saying yes to this trip, I wanted to know how many kilometers it would be. They replied that it would be around 120km, a distance I never cycled, but I thought I could handle 120km. After a while somebody plotted the route and told the group that it would be around 140km. I said I would join and the extra 20km would not make a big difference. The day got closer, and I became a bit nervous because I had never cycled such a distance in one trip. The week before I bought cycling shorts and triathlon bars to ride in comfort, I would come prepared.

On Saturday 23 September 2000 all the participants gathered on the Vanderlande parking for the ride. Meeting new people and looking around I saw the bikes they brought, it made me doubt. They all had racing bikes and I was the only one with a ‘normal’ bike (with the same number of gears but several kilos heavier). Let’s wait and see (don’t panic). There is a backup car and if I would not make it, I could step into the car (with a damaged ego). The car even had a bike rack, so the backup scenario was possible. The weather was good, nice temperature, sunny and no rain or wind. We set off early and luckily we made some stops on the way. Those were good moments to recover and have something to drink/ eat (provided by the backup car/ team).

The kilometers were rolling by, and we made it to the Van der Landelaan. Near the street sign we made some nice pictures as proof we reached our goal. I made it halfway and no problems, so far, and that kept my spirit up. After something to eat and drink we set off to return to Veghel. The kilometers were adding up and the best of me was gone, but there were some 25km to go. The experienced cyclists noticed that the best of me left and said to me ‘Ride behind us (in the draught)’, which I did. Cycling out of the wind they brought me back to Veghel. On the bridge crossing the canal, near the campus, some of then had some energy left in the tank. They produced a sprint to the Vanderlande campus, not me. I did not participate and completed the last meters at a lower speed, knowing I’d reach the finish.

We all made it, tired but proud that we reached the end. The backup car was not needed and in the end we cycled for 180km. Many years later, one of the other participants told me that some members of the group said to each other that I would not make it till the end, not on that bike. Not knowing that I proved them wrong on that day. For many years the 180km was the longest bike ride I ever did. This cycling challenge to me is an example of one of the Vanderlande Core values (although they were not yet defined in 2000) … Team play. I cannot remember all participants, names I can remember are Peter Vervoort, Piet Schuit, Toon Kandelaars, Cor Jansen, Eddy Pots, Wil Krijnen. Backup car: driven by Toon Ketelaars and Diny Rotteveel, both board members of the Dutch staff association. Although the attached photos are of low quality, you can see the group near the Vanderlandelaan and Van der Landelaan street signs and enjoying a stop.

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