Written by Don Hamstre of Schiavi di Don
‘Hello everyone, and welcome to the OCM Awards Gala S38 Hike’
Instantly, a lot of faces went blank. All nominated managers, riders, and some invited guests, were gathered on Festplassen, in the city centre of Bergen, Norway.
‘Come on people, everyone here does hiking, most of them don’t even mind carrying children, dogs, or both at the same time up a mountain, so don’t be so weak and follow me’, the Don, who annoyingly enough doesn’t look too fit himself either, said. Reluctantly, everyone followed his steps, which turned out to be a big mistake for some of them.
The hike started out very easy, as we started out walking past Bergen’s main touristic sights. ‘On your left hand, you will see the beautiful red-painted Johanneskirken, the highest building in Bergen.’ This made Santiago Campelo, who is a very religious man, split up from our group and take a closer look at the insides of the church. His old bones might have warned him from continuing the hike as well, because he’s our winner of the Best Old Rider Category.
We continued walking. ‘We’re now passing the Fish Market, which is a major tourist attraction. However, it is a tourist trap, prices are way too high and quality is better at other places.’ Adonis Lourenço however, did not listen past the first sentence, and was showing the others the whale and smoked salmon he bought very proudly. The inexperience of Youth might have taken it’s toll here, as Adonis is the winner of both the U23 and Young Rider Awards.
Martijn Kleuskens, manager of Starlynk Bermuda, said that he had made the same mistake when visiting a year ago, but had learnt from his mistake, symbolizing his Most Improved Manager Inside Top Division Award.
The hike moved on with a small detour toward Bryggen, by far the most famous sight of Bergen, with its Hanseatic wooden buildings. ‘These streets are very narrow, and packed with tourists, so it might be a bit of a struggle to get out again’, The Don said. Adonis was the first to Break out of the crowd and escape from Bryggen. This was to be expected, as he is the Breakthrough Rider of the Season. At least, we thought he was the first, but it turned out that a guy nobody had seen before, Uil from Uiltje, was already waiting on us. We found out that he just won Breakthrough Team in his first season as manager of this Team, which is very impressive indeed.
‘We will now start moving
towards our first mountain of the day, Mount Floyen. But first, this bit is cobbled, so I expect Lucas Loudon, our Best Cobbler victor, to enjoy it!’ There was one guy who was starting to enjoy himself a lot less though, as Ingar Sætre had just won Best Sprinter, but does not enjoy climbing, or cobbling, at all. The knowledge that this would be the final flat part of the day made him regret some life choices, but at least he had a Trophy to console himself.
The Climb up Floyen started with the hairpins curling up from behind the Floibanen Station. It looked like someone was missing again, but we didn’t realise who it was until much later. After this first steep section some of our group already started to look tired, but not Leonard van Bael, as he has climbed way tougher Hills this season, resulting in him winning the Award for Best Hiller. The climb got steeper though, but nothing a proper Hiller couldn’t cope. Even the managers and sprinters still looked relatively fresh.
‘Fun fact, in Season 37, this climb was the Finish Climb of our World Championships ITT’. Adonis, who was being voted Best Time Trialer this season, looked quite happy that he didn’t compete that season, as he had been way too enthusiastic at the start of our Hike and was starting to tire quickly.
Floyen might be very steep, but it is only 399 metres high, and soon we all reached the top. There we bumped into the guy that was missing after the Floibanen Station. He had taken the funicular up Mount Floyen, saving a lot of effort, and also giving him extra time to enjoy the beautiful views. This guy was of course Felgens Kroeniker of Nefal, winner of the Award for Best Manager of the Season, once again proving his ability to outsmart others.
‘Before we will continue our hike towards Rundemanen, the second highest Mountain of Bergen’s Seven Mountains, please take your time to enjoy the amazing view. If you look right of Lovstakken, the mountain right in front of you, you see the city center in all it’s glory. If you look to the left of Lovstakken, you will see the valley with my home, Fantoft, right in the middle. Its buildings give home to many international students from all around the world.This has also been the stage for some pretty competitive football competitions between all those different nationalities’. Frank Holwerda, NT Manager of The Netherlands, had some experience with competing against the rest of the World, as he took the Award for Best WT Manager this season.
The view was truly spectacular, but it was
time to move on. The further we climbed up Rundemanen, the more foggy it got around us. We could barely see a few meters ahead, when someone came with a very bright idea. He proposed to make a giant conga-line so that we wouldn’t lose each other. He would be leading us, because he was the only one smart enough to bring a flashlight. This smart Manager was of course hhauge, winner of Best Manager Outside Top Division. After fifteen minutes the weather changed again and suddenly we had a clear sky ahead. The conga-line dissolved and soon we reached the summit of Rundemanen, 568 metres high. First to reach it was Robin van Zijp, which was quite fitting, as he is this seasons Best Rider Outside Top Division and had now once again finished first on the second highest level. Now all that rest us was a descent and the following climb towards Ulriken, the highest of the 7 Mountains, and by far the hardest to climb.
In our descent, we passed a few lakes and some nice waterfalls, but one guy was too quick down the hill to take a proper look at all this nature. Dominic Haidegger couldn’t resist to descend rapidly, as he is the Best Downhiller of season 38.
The Don, who had been our tour guide so far, started to look properly tired, but he was certainly not the only one. In fact, just three people still looked like they were going to make it to the top of Mount Ulriken. Farrucco Alonso has always had huge stamina, having won the Award for Best Tour Rider several times before repeating it this season. However, he was not the fastest up Mount Ulriken. Euzebiusz Jastrzebski was the clear favourite to get to the top quickest, as he has a great reputation of climbing, resulting the the Sterling Dorsher Award for Best Climber this season. Surprisingly enough though, he wasn’t the one that ‘won’ our hike either.
Only one can be the very best, and that man was Lucas Loudon, who received the Award for Best Rider of the Season. Four hours later, what was left of our Group had all arrived at the top of Mount Ulriken. The sun had already gone down by now and since there was only one flashlight, many had tripped and fallen down the steep slopes. The Don did make it though, and afterwards he was cited calling the hike ‘a great success’. Some of those fallen might disagree, but the winners of the OCM Awards will always think fondly of the day they got recognition for their hard work. Just like The Don will always think fondly of Bergen, the most beautifully surrounded city in the world. I hope to see you all next Season and to see Bergen again many many more times is my life!