What does our trainer say

Whether it concerns an official tour or whether you are going to ride the Elfstedentocht yourself a day before the event, skating on natural ice for long periods of time requires a plan.

I would like to share some advice with you here and I will give the reasons as much as possible. I give these advices to anyone who wants to finish the tours and enjoy them. In the end it is not important for this group whether it takes you half an hour longer.

Kleding: Niet te weinig, niet te veel natuurlijk maar in principe onder je schaatsbroek een lange thermobroek met windstopper.

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Optionally, additional thermal underwear up to the knees. Outerwear a windproof breathable jacket (Duojack is fine) with a number of layers of thermal clothing underneath (thin thermal shirt below and thin fleece shirts above). How much and how thick depends on the cold and the amount of effort / heat you provide. A beanie with a turtleneck that you can pull in front of your face or alternatively a balaclava. Thick gloves that go on and off easily or thermal gloves under larger ones.

Skating : The skates that you use for the track can of course also be used on natural ice, but…

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The (wannabee) competition riders use their skate shoes, which are shaped to the foot, with irons with an extra sharpened tip. For everyone else there are

1. – the skates they ride on the ice rink every week or

2. – Specimens specially purchased for natural ice. Advantages of this are; better over bumps / through cracks, comfortable with a day of skating, your ice rink skates stay intact. The most commonly used for this are the so-called Salomon skates. Great for natural ice and you keep your feet warm, less pleasant on the ice rink at high speeds.

You now have quite a choice in shoes and bases. They range from almost cross-country models with very long irons to M&M's Wiperboards that are made of high-quality steel and an integrated folding mechanism. The choice is not very difficult because the differences are smaller than with competition skating. You can often test them on the track via the skate shop and then you will immediately notice which shoes and which chassis suits your goal and skill.

Extra protection : Of course covers for your skates and possibly bubbles of plastic underneath if you quickly get cold feet.

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Shin protection if you can or want to ride in groups. Protection on your knees (firm foam) because you usually fall on them.

Ski goggles or good (protective) sports goggles against frozen eyes, which you can wear in the sun and with clouds/darkness. Water-free petroleum jelly on your face against freezing your skin.

It is also recommended to wear a helmet (hat).

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A fall on the head can cause serious injuries and wearing a helmet is recommended for long trips on natural ice. A special skating helmet cap is possible, but also a ski helmet or a bicycle helmet over a hat.

Food and drink : Take enough with you and also money to buy extra. In a light, comfortable back/hip pouch. Think about what is pleasant and convenient. For some that are muesli bars for the other sandwiches with sprinkles (as long as you can easily get it down). Water can freeze and is heavy. Buy something to drink where you can and always take a full bottle with you.

Tactics/tour plan : Assume from the start that you have to skate for a long time. An Elfstedentocht takes 10 to 12 hours. Starting too soon will cost you a lot of energy and time at the end. So start at a pace that you know you can keep going all day long (many strand in or in front of Franeker because they started too fast and that's the end of it). Especially if you ride in a group, everyone does not want to be inferior to each other in the beginning. Start eating and drinking quickly (certainly within the first hour) and keep it up for the entire trip.

Resting : You prefer to do that by skating upright calmly. You do not cool down too much and while resting / eating / drinking you still cover a few kilometers. This way you get a better average and you stay a lot fitter than skating hard and stopping all the time (where you first sweat a lot and then cool down quickly).

Extra : Of course you take your protectors with you. You don't know if there is carpet everywhere when you have to clone. More tips are of course welcome.

Regards, Mark