Completing the "Elfstedentocht" (dutch for Eleven Cities Tour) is the dream of every dutch guy that likes speed skating. Finishing the Elfstedentocht can be quite challanging, not only because of the distance (200 kilometers) or the fact that weather conditions can make it a rough ride.
The first hurdle to take is to become a member of the Vereniging "De Friesche Elf Steden". You can only subscribe as a member in the first half of the year and your subscription must be backed 2 two members of Vereniging "De Friesche Elf Steden" stating that you are capable of completing the tour. Because of the large number of people that want to skate the tour not all members are allowed to skate the tour. Each year in November there is draw in which the lucky ones for that year are picked. And even if you're one of the lucky 16.000, you're not sure yet. The Elfstedentocht can only be organized if the winter is cold enough, since 1909 the tour was only organized 15 times and the last one was in 1997. With the heathing of the earth chances of participating seem to decrease as time goes by. So you need to be extremely lucky twice in the same year, and last but not least... you'd better be well prepared. The last couple of races have been relatively easy from the weather perspective, but 1963 was a real killer.
So why am I blogging about this? Well, a stumbled across a DVD of the Elfstedentocht of 1985, the Elfstedentocht fever immediately caught me. Even though it's summer at the moment. Next year it is 22 years after the tour of 1985, after the tour of 1963 it took 22 years before the next tour could be skated...the obvious difference of course being the fact that between 1985 and now the Elfstedentocht already took place twice (1986 and 1997)... so that logic doesn't really help... but hey, you've got to get your motivation for training somewhere. Someday I will complete the tour and get my Elfstedenkruisje ;-)