Stone me: a small section of cobbles on my little circuit to dry Husband’s bike. Riders and bikes were covered in fifth by the end, black like miners, with the wrinkly ones streaked white along their lines
Map reference: Varsenare to Houtave and back, 15k
Carbs and caffeine: nothing for this short ride, but freshly cooked waffles two days ago still a highlight of our holiday here
All holidays this year have been designed around cycle commitments, so here we are in Bruges for Husband to do what is known locally as Ronde Van Vlaanderen, aka The Flanders; 254k – 120k of boring flat (against headwinds of up to 30k) followed by hills, cobbles… and sometimes hilly cobbles. It is one of the ‘classic’ one-day cycle races that the professionals do every year, and indeed is one of five of these classics that are known as the ‘Monuments’. This one was first held in 1913 and is renowned for narrow steep cobbled ‘bergs’, which force the pro riders to fight for the space at the front or risk being edged off the road. Many times, in bad weather, the pros have had to pick up their bikes and run up the hills.
Back to Saturday, and Husband’s race, all was prepared and the weather app suggested it should be dry. Unfortunately, the app was wrong. Husband set off in short bibs to spend the first three hours pedalling against rain and wind. At the first feed stop, he was still shivering. In fact it took him 130k to stop shivering. There has been some debate later about whether this was my fault for referencing the errant app reports. But I clearly remember ‘nagging’ Husband as he prepared to leave in the dark about what he was wearing, and moreover what he was not wearing – his arm and leg warmers, his new rain gilet, his waterproof? All were left in a bag in the kitchen. Luckily he has now accepted the blame, and family peace has been restored. As with his early races where he didn’t have enough water and food, it’s a lesson learnt.
With the weather against them for the first half of the day, all the riders were forced to dismount for the Koppenberg, an early hill which maxes at 22 per cent and was covered in mud, but by the end, the road had dried and they were able to sail up the Paterberg, another famous hill. In fact, at this moment, I feel like I cycled the route myself, as we watched the pros do the route on the TV the next day. It was dry and sunny all day for them, which seems unfair.
The drier weather gave me a chance to get out, if briefly. Husband sluiced his filthy bike and I took a little turn towards the coast. It is wonderfully safe cycling, you can see for miles across the fields. But with my elevation over 25k at 24m, this was not a training ride… Just a mood enhancer.
Note to self: must get kids farmed out so I can get out for a proper ride myself