In Flanders fields……

It’s been a while since I lasted posted anything, so here goes….

As you will have seen from Dennis’s post we both battled around the RVV or Tour of Flanders last Saturday. I think I can honestly say that this is one of those cycling events that is an absolute must for all enthusiasts of the two wheeled sport.

The belgians are passionate about cycling, the fact that on every single climb they stood in the rain crowded under small umbrellas to watch a bunch of amateurs tackle some of the most famous climbs in cycling classics is testament to their love of the sport.

The day was pretty wet, cold and windy, typical classics weather! We had opted for the 155km route which takes in 14 of the 15 climbs done by the pros the following day.  Those of you familar with the agonies of my earlier blogs will know how I seem to die a thousand deaths and enter some kind of delirious state every time I sit on my bike, will be surprised that I had actually prepared enough for this challenge!

Yes it’s hard, but no harder than riding round Kent and over the Downs – the only difference is the cobbles and I surprised myself here by taking a leaf out of my mountain biking days and sitting back and spinning up the climbs, allowing the front wheel to bounce under my numb fingers, the back wheel stayed firm on every climb. All the climbs make you ache, but they are short enough to allow you a good recovery between them.

I vowed I wouldn’t stop on any climb, and I apologise for the abuse I may have uttered at some hapless cyclists who were walking in my way as I battled up the narrow cobbled climbs but when I set my mind to something I just have to do it. The Pattenberg and Koppenberg are amazing to ride up, the latter is like a wall in the middle but is do-able. I rode shoulder to shoulder with a Belgian up it both of us urging riders who were pushing their bikes out of our way, as we crested the climb a loud cheer went as a hardy group of fans waved the yellow and black Flandrian flags.

My favourite climb of the day through was the Muur, weirdly it started long before the offical climb, it rises up in front of you gets steeper and steeper, then as you turn and see the church at the top it seems to get steeper, the cobbles here are like glass, I took the less crowded outside line and wove through more people pushing, the number of people on the Muur was astounding, the wall of cobbles matched by the wall of noise from the fans.

This is a truly clasic ride, unlike Dennis, I’d do it again on a road bike, without a camelback and in the rain!

For the technically minded of you – I rode a cervelo R3 with Sram Force compact chainset 50/34 and 11/28, I used the excellent Vittoria pave tyres. Finally a few nutritional facts – I’m a great follower of SiS and used their PSP energy drink and two Go gels, for the rest of my food I had home made flapjacks, which after some experimentation have proved to be the best fuel for me – recipe to follow shortly!

The following day watching the pros go up the Koppenberg, made me truuly apprecaite what great athletes they are, and what passion they seem arouse in the Belgians, who cheer every rider and urge them to greater speeds. Only at football matches in England have I seen such crowds and queues!

Here a few pix of the pros on the Koppenberg on Sunday

Eventual winner Cancellara leads Boonen up the Koppenberg

Eventual winner Cancellara leads Boonen up the Koppenberg

Garmin's David Millar struggles for traction on the Koppenberg

Garmin's David Millar struggles for traction on the Koppenberg

Lance Armstrong battles up the Koppenberg

Lance Armstrong battles up the Koppenberg

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