“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Alpe d'Huzes

Derde beklimming
Training ride
My son joined this month the 2012 version of the Dutch campaign "Alp d'Huzes" or "Alp d'Hu6", which is a degeneration of the mountain "Alp d'Huez" in the French Alps.

It is one of the famous mountains in the "Tour de France" (French for: "Biking around France"), the world's most famous bicycle competition, held every summer for three weeks in Europe, mainly in France but also a few days in neighboring countries.

The "Alp d'Huzes" campaign is an initiative started in 2006 to raise sponsor money for cancer research in the Netherlands. The idea is that volunteers - professional as well as amateur sportsmen and even cancer patients - bike uphill and down up to six times a day.

Sponsors of individual bikers pay for the whole event or a fixed amount of money for each uphill ride.  Via a website of the organization sponsors can indicate how much money they want to invest. And the biker will inform his or her sponsors via the same website on the progress of the training up-to six months before the campaign day, and of course the final results are published as well to all sponsors.

Alp d'Huez is also called the biking Mecca of the world. Each of the 21 hairpins are labeled and named after a former stage winner of the Tour de France. During the campaign there are professional photographers at start and finish and every hairpin. You can order and pay video shots via a sports website, the money again is for sponsoring the campaign.
The Climb: 15.2 kms (9.4 miles); Ascent: 1,150 metres (3,770 feet).

The intention is to bike the mountain 6 times a day - hence the name Alp d'Huzes as zes means 6 in Dutch - but depending on your start time and capabilities you can do less if you like. My son went for 4 times, but finally ended up with 3 rides (up and down), it was so heavy he told me and three was really his limit because he started late that day.

In 2006 the Alp d'Huzes campaign was done by 66 bikers and they raised a total sum of 370.000 euro. This year, six years later, there were 8.000 bikers joining - split over two days - who raised all together an amount of 28.484.000 euro (28.5 million).

Thursday, June 7, 2012


It seems that the financial problems in the Euro-zone are getting more worse than ever and consequently  the Euro is still on its way down to the initial value at its introduction in January 1999.

I believe that not all problems are identified yet or at least generally known, so a further decline is not impossible.

It is not only a problem for the Europeans in Europe - they may expect all kind of cost cutting measures from their governments - but also European pensionado's in non Euro-zone countries.

European pensionado's usually have a state and/or company pension based on the euro currency, and with a lower euro their income in the local currency of their new home country will be lower as well.

Recently the supreme court in the Netherlands decided that the cost cutting measure on state pension compensations for pensioners not paying tax in the Netherlands or at all - like in our case - was legally not acceptable, so the measure will be cancelled. Unfortunately it's only 34 euro.

Apart from that most pensions are not indexed - that is corrected for inflation - anymore since a couple of years, some pension funds will even decide to lower the monthly payments this and next years, because otherwise these funds are unable to guarantee their obligations towards future pensioners.


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