“We actually wanted to organize just a tour from the High Tech Campus, but it got bigger and bigger.” Roel Voorwald, founder of the Corporate Vitality and Campus Sports & Health Club, talks about the plans in the run-up to the High Tech Crit cycling festival on 23rd and 24th of June. The cycling festival must ‘become Brabant’s cycling festival’ and he wants the High Tech Campus not only to be the smartest but also the most vital square kilometer in the Netherlands. 

More about the High Tech Crit Festival here

“We want to be ‘Brabant’s coolest festival’. Apparently, there are 900,000 touring cyclists in the Netherlands – you are a touring cyclist when you dress up to go cycling. Half of them come from Brabant, I have not been able to find out whether the figures are really correct. But cycling is alive around here. This should become a real cycling event.”

Last September Voorwald and his partner Laurens van Oosterwijk started their long cherished dream of having their own vitality center. With the aim of making the people on the campus more aware of their health. Over the next two years, they want to reach 25% of campus residents, and in a few years’ time, everyone, Voorwald says. “On campus from nine to five, everyone is racing to work and racing home again. We want people to be able to train at 7 a.m. or after work.” There was already a gym and it is their responsibility since this year. There is also a training center, which is located on the farm. There, “all soft skills training are given: time management, job carving, getting things done, burnout prevention”. And they organize events, such as the High Tech Crit.

For the latter, they called in Bjorn van den Langenberg. They asked him to organize a cycling tour. “Bjorn saw all kinds of possibilities and got companies such as Shimano, VDL, Rabobank, and Brunel to be involved, and for example the cycling clubs TML Dommelstreek and TWC De Kempen. It was getting bigger and bigger.” A criterion was set. And at the last minute, at the end of May, the NK masters was added to the program. This ‘small NK’ for men 30+, 40+, 50-54, 55 – 59, 60 – 64 and 65+ was planned in Rucphen but at the last minute it didn’t go through.

Voorwald: “I asked Bjorn if it was possible to move things around the NK could be organized here. The course had to be changed, there had to be better health care and we had to arrange extra insurances. But it could be done. Bjorn called them to see if we could help them. A day later they called back: ‘yes, please’.” There are now 500 participants for the NK, it was immediately full, Voorwald says. To make a long straight finish lane the round goes clockwise. “That’s a bit unique again because usually, the round is to counterclockwise. Seemingly that’s why the chainguard is on the right side of the bike.”

There are not only races. Besides the tour on Saturday, with distances of 150, 110, 75 kilometers and a family ride of 25: “for people who do not often cycle but like to cycle with the family once”, there is a gravel ride on Sunday over the Stabrechtse Heide. You can participate in all kinds of bikes. There are thick tire races, a team time trial, and BMX demonstrations.

Marc van de Zanden and Lars van Raaij, of Stichting Sport & Technology, approached various companies to show and test their innovations. For example, you can test bikes like the Lynx e-fat bike. With this bike, every terrain is passable: dunes, forest paths, swampy meadows. Or the IDbike, an electric bike with sensors in, for example, the pedals that give you information about how hard you ride, what this does with your heartbeat and how much power you put on the pedals. There are booths where new food and clothing can be seen. And there’s a game, the LifcyclR: a rehabilitation bike for children with cerebral palsy, a congenital brain disease that usually goes hand in hand with spasticity. Children with this condition have to cycle for at least two hours a day, often on a kind of exercise bike. With LifyclR, this becomes much more fun, according to Rob Tieben from Game Solution Lab who developed the game.

There is also music and all restaurants are open. “There’s everything to make it a real festival,” Bjorn van den Langenberg says. He visited Anton Ganzeboom, director of the Ster ZLM Toer, among others, for advice. A multi-day stage race in which “the real riders participate in preparation for the Tour de France”, Van den Langenberg explains. This year the Dutch race go through at the last moment because two stage places – where a stage ends or starts – canceled. Ganzeboom: “By then, everything had already been set in motion in Eindhoven for 23 and 24 June. Our course would be from June 13th to June 17th. For next year we are going to see if a stage on the Campus is possible. It is an enthusiastic group of people, the ones who organize this crit festival, with ideas that also appeal to us. You have to build more around it than just cycling.” 

Voorwald thinks it is great that there are plans from the province to bring the Vuelta to Brabant by 2020. “If we show that we can organize a festival like this, then we might have a head start on Breda and Den Bosch.” But in the end that’s not the most important thing, he prefers to “tickle and enthuse the 10,000 people who work here on the High Tech Campus to go cycling”.

Registration for the tours and gravel ride is still possible: https://hightechcritfestival.com/tickets/

Entrance is free, coming by bike is preferred, parking for visitors costs 5 euros

The next event of the Vitality Health Campus will be a triathlon (a quarter and an eighth) on Sunday 2 September

Main photo: Paul Raats