246 - DEKKERS Helmuth


Welcome to my personal BIG page! Updated: 04/10/2013

General Information

My name is Helmuth Dekkers and I was born in Oisterwijk (The Netherlands) on the 6th of June 1964. I still live in Oisterwijk, a small town known for its woods and the small lakes that you can find here. Some winters these lakes freeze and then I enjoy skating on natural ice. It's fantastic! The next best thing after uphill cycling ;-). I am married since 1986 to Patrica and we have 2 children, Marloes (1989) and Erwin (1991). And we are all BIG members (246, 313, 765 and 999). It's like a virus! I used to cycle together with my best friend on a racing bike when I was 12 years or so. And hence we watched professional cycling too of course. I was glued to the television when I saw Hennie Kuiper (1977&1978), Joop Zoetemelk (1979), Peter Winnen (1981&193), Steven Rooks (1988) and Gert-Jan Theunisse (1989) winning the Tour de France stage finishing at Alpe d'Huez. These victories planted a little seed as years later, when the Dutch victories at Alpe d'Huez were forgotten (almost), while watching yet another stage finishing in Alpe d'Huez I indicated to Patricia I would like to cycle up 'l Alpe d'Huez myself before I would turn 40. She replied that I'd better start training again in that case and so I started cycling again in 2003 to train for this ascent and both me an Marloes cycled up l'Alpe d'Huez that year. Just before we went to France for our summer holiday and l'Alpe d'Huez a collegue of me pointed out that l'Alpe d'Huez was in fact not that tough. What? I found out he had read an article abouth the BIG in the newspaper ( http://members.ziggo.nl/phme.dekkers/BIG_article.html ). I got interested and contacted BIG. I received an Excel file called the Passacol with loads of data of the ascents that are in the BIG's list. I was curious about how BIG would compare 2 ascents and then found that the amount of Europoints was incorrect for some BIGs. That started of a mail exchange and that's how I really got involved in the BIG challenge. Since 2003 I have been claiming BIGs steadily over the years and now have more than 200 BIGs in 21 different countries and 2 different continents even. An average of roughly 19 BIGs a year. In 2009 I completed the cycling of all BIGs in Zone 3 (BeNeLux) and I managed to collect more than 100 BIGs alltogether. In 2013 I cycled my 200 BIG and managed to cycle all BIGs in zone 4 (Germany) except 1 (Waseberg) which I cycled in 2014 25 times in one day. I guess that the Dutch, myself included, are obsessed with uphill cycling due to the victories on l'Alpe d'Huez in the past. And even more as The Netherlands is mostly very flat.


  • My highest BIG is: Gyatso La(N) in Tibet.
    The summit is at 5253m and I cycled it in 2012 when I cycled the passes of the Friendship Highway from Lhasa to Kathmandu including the detour to the the Everest Base Camp via Pang La and Lamna La.
  • My BIG with the highest difference of level is Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma which is part of the Canary Islands that belong to Spain.
    I had to climb 2,260m to get to the top at 2,400m. The top is in fact on the crater edge of an extinct vulcano. This crater is called Caldera de Tarubiente. On the edge is also the Observatorio Astrofisico del Roque de los Muchachos. You find here als some of the world's largest telescopes as the altitude and the dryness of the climate here give rise to excellent observing conditions.
  • My BIG with the highest number of Europoints (this should be toughest BIG I cycled) is BIG 498: Roque de los Muchachos (E) with 1,956.00 Europoints.
    It was indeed a tough climb due to the amount of altimeters I had to conquer and the distance I had to cycle. The summit is called Roque de los Muchachos due to the outcrop of some strangly formed rock pillars that looks like a group of boys (muchachos)
  • My longest BIG was is BIG 498: Roque de los Muchachos (E) which is 42.6km long.
    It took me 5 1/2 hours of cycling on a rented MTB to get to the summit and that included a short lunch break. The last part is beautiful due to the colors and strange shapes of the rocks. And because from the Mirador de loa Andennes one has a spectacular view into the crater.
  • My BIG with the highest maximum gradient is BIG 81: Hard Knott Pass(E) in England.
    I cyled it in 2010 during the BIG meeting which was held in the Lake District. It's a short ascent, only 1.8km long, but with a maximum gradient of 20.5% over 100m (and 32% over 10m after 900m) and an average gradient of 9.5%. And then you must know that we cycled Kirkstone Pass and Wrynose Pass before that BIG even.
  • My BIG with the highest average gradient is BIG 25: Col du Sati in Belgium (13.5%).
    I cycled it in 2007 together with my wife Patricia. Also not that long, like Hard Knott Pass, just 1.1km. But beautifully situated in the woods.

    Tip: Go there during the autumn and enjoy the colored leafs and the nice views on the Semois and the village Frahan from Rochehaut.

  • My favorite BIGs.
    It's hard to indicate just one BIG that tops them all so I have grouped the favorite BIGs in 4 groups: BIGs offering the most beautiful scenery, BIGs through beautiful Gorges, Mediatic BIGs and BIGS with the most beautiful view from the top.
    • BIGs offering the most beautiful scenery
      • Dalsnibba(NW) in Norway.
        Starts in Geiranger at the end of the Fjord with the same name and then you cycle higherand higher with gorgeous views on the fjord, waterfalls and surrounding mountains. The last 5km from Djupvasshytta are dirt road and tough but the view from Dalsnibba on the Geiranger Fjord makes you forget that.

        Tip: Don't forget to visit the Flydalsjuvet on your way back to Geiranger!

      • Kirkstone Pass(SW) in the Lake District of England.
        Starts in Ambleside a very nice town sitauted at the shores of lake Windermere. The road is flanked by typical drystone walls and the secenery is gorgeous. The last part is called "The Struggle" due to the 20% gradient. A tough and rewarding BIG.
      • The Col de Lava(NE) on the Isle of Corsica, France.
        From Porto it takes you through the spectacular red rocks of the Calanches on your way to the disappointing summit. But the red rocks are rewarding as are the special shapes of the rocks like like the Tete de Chien (Dog's head) and Couer de Calanches (a hole through a rock pillar in the shape of a heart). Cycling the BIGs on Corse was awesome! They are all beautiful.
    • BIGs through beautiful Gorges
      • Val Genova(E) in Italy.
        This is a climb along a rushing river through what is also known as the valley of waterfalls. The biggest one is the Nardis fall but you'll see more of them plunging down from the valley walls.
      • Haut Asco(NE) on Corse (France).
        A BIG trough a beautiful valley with bare rocks and pine trees.

        Tip: Another good option is Bergeries des Grotelles on Corse.

      • Gorges du Loup(E) In Luxembourg
        This gorge is located in Luxemmbourg in the area that is also know as little Switzerland. The rocks along the road are amazing.
    • Mediatic BIGs
      • l'Alpe d'Huez in France.
        Due to all the Dutch victories it's a special ascent for me. And it's the BIG that got me hooked to the BIG challenge which is a very important part of my life nowadays.

        Tip: Cycle back via the D211a from la Garde to Le Freney d'Oisans. It clings to the rock face and offers beautiful views on the Romanche river. Or drive back via the wild scenery of the Col de Sarennes to Frenez d'Oisans.

      • Passo dello Stevio(E) in Italy.
        It's a beautiful and well know climb from the Giro d'Italia with the 42 hairpins and where you can see the top while there is still a lot of altimeters to cover. I saw it in May on television when it wasd the Cima Coppi in the Giro d'Italia and cycled it myself in juli 2005 together with our daughter Marloes.

        Tip: Look back when you have reached the summit as there is a spec-ta-cu-lar view from the top back on the ascent with all the hairpins.

      • Mont Ventoux(S) In France.
        As this an ascent with a history due to the death of Tom Simpson in 1967. And it is a tough ascent too with it's 21km with 8.1% on average from Bedoin. The last 4.5km are through a moonlike landscape and 2km from the top there is the Tom Simpson memorial. It's my mountain now also, Tom!
    • BIGS with the most beautiful view from the top
      • Grand Colombier in France.
        It's a tough ascent but once again the nice view on the top on the Mont Blanc is very rewarding. Me and our daughter Marloes reached the summit when the sun was setting and the Mont Blanc range was colored orange. It was great!
      • Stara Vrata in Croatia.
        This Croatian BIG has a fantastic view on the deep blue Adriatic see and the brown and barren island of Pag in it. The side of Pag that can be seen from the summit is barren due to the Bora wind.
      • Pang La in Tibet.
        If the weather permits then the view from Pang La on the Mahalangur Himal range is awesome as you can see 4 out of the in total 14 eight thousanders. We were lucky as we saw them againt a blue sky. From left to the right we saw Makalu (8,4635m), Lhotse (8,516m), the famous Nort Face and summit of Mount Everest (8,848m), Gyachung Kang (7,952m) and Cho Oyu (8,201m). It was stunning! A fantastic reward after 3 hours of uphill cyling over a tough gravel road.