Ever fancied getting your bike (not to mention yourself) covered in wet sand? Ever wanted to race 20 km along the beaches of the Netherlands on a frosty January morning, only to turn around and go back to start as fast as you can? If your answer is yes in at least one of these questions, beach racing might be something for you.
It’s probably the most niche event in the world of cycling. Wet sand, the North Sea and bike races are words you rarely see in the same headline, but in beach racing that’s what you get. People in general may prefer beaches before mountains, but in cycling? Make your own mind up.
Despite the time of year and the often miserable weather, beach racing has become a “very popular sport in the Netherlands” since it started around 15 years ago. Taking place during the winter months where the temperature often goes below zero, the biggest races somehow attract 4000 racers – and even professional cyclists takes part in the events.
It’s even got its own bike
It’s that popular that Koga, in co-operation with the Mitsubishi mountain bike team, has designed a prototype beach-racer bike.
“Beach races demand special characteristics of a bike. We took a KOGA cyclo cross frame as basis, that is as close as you can get to a proper beach bike. It is also made to carry the bike on your shoulder. We adapted this frame to make it even more suitable for beach racing. The frame was widened for the extra wide beach tires and also the rear end is longer. This way we have developed a bike that finds its way easily through the loose sand especially at long, straight routes,” Martin Schuttert, R&D and Product Manager at Koga, explained.
More experienced beach racers, with or without this specialised racer, will perhaps look to Belgium for a bigger challenge. There, instead of turning around and going straight back where you come from, they tend to make the second half of the race harder by adding passages in the dunes and loose sand on the way back. How tempting doesn’t that sound?
UPDATE: And here’s a Giant bike built up for cycling champ Marianne Vos for the Egmond – Pier – Egmond race.