An insider's view of Hell

The Hell of Ede-Wageningen tour is a highlight of the local mountain biking summer, and I have ridden it several times with great pleasure.  This year it was different for me.  It is organised by two local clubs (TCW & 'wielervereniging Ede' (Ede cycling club)) and a few months ago I joined the TCW.  So that meant that I was invited to help on the day.  I had always realised that it must be quite a lot of effort to put such an event together for 750 mountain bikers and several thousand racing bikes, but had not known just how much work was involved.  Long in advance negotiations have to take place with all the land owners and managers to get permission to go over their land (even for those sections which you can cycle at any time as an individual anyway) as well as all sorts of other things to be arranged.  Setting the route out starts the day before, but because some strange people remove signs along the route, on the day itself the first volunteers have to get out of bed at 5 AM. They check the route over, put the last signs in and replace missing signs before the first cyclists set off at seven 'o clock. I was very happy to be scheduled for the afternoon shift.  Perhaps they thought a new person needed to be treated gently, or I might never volunteer again. I was also lucky to be scheduled with an experienced volunteer who had done it several times before, so that also made it easy. We had the job of patrolling a section of the route, checking for missing signs as well as lost and injured mountain bikers.  That turned out to be a bit disappointing, everything was perfect with no need for us to do anything at all.  Someone had a crack in their frame (I thought it was too scary to continue, but they were sure it would be ok) and that was it. We did see an exceptionally cute wood mouse at one point, so that was something at least.  After the volunteers bringing up the rear passed by, we then had to collect all the signs along the route and pick up any litter left behind, but there was absolutely none at all (which probably says something about mountain bikers' respect for nature). The only thing indicating that a good fraction of a thousand cyclists had passed were the tyre marks in the ground, which will soon fade in the rain and under the footsteps of the wild boar.

 

Hel van Ede-Wageningen 2015