Thursday, April 7, 2005

Ronde van Vlaanderen 2005

What a great event! Though I have to say that this feeling didn't really surface until the next day.

The first 130km of the cyclo passed reasonably quickly. I'd been warned not to allow the enthusiasm of the occasion overcome sensibility and start too fast. This logic ruled for about 20 minutes of relatively slow riding from Brugge until a faster group came past and everybody jumped. About 100km later and I got spat out the back worrying that I wouldn't have enough for the next 150km. Not long before the beginning of the hills I realised that the cleats on my new shoes weren't quite as well adjusted as I had thought. For the next 100km I was in pain management mode, but there was no way that I was going to give in. Things got better at the Muur, and I positively enjoyed the Bosberg, not that I was going fast at any point, I swear I passed more than passed me. I arrived in Meerbeke at 6pm, having left Brugge at 6:45am. I was happy to have finished the whole course without walking once. Though it was a near thing on the Koppenburg.

The next day I slept in, until 7am and caught the start in Brugge. I had a great spot on the barrier just by the start. I got a nice shot of Boonen and Hincapie chatting and wishing each other luck! From there I caught a train to Geraadsbergen. I had another go at the Muur, was *almost* able to stay in the saddle this time. Shortly afterwords I caught the Belgian equivalent of soccer Mums in action, with the kids Ronde going up. I'm sure some of them had flasher bikes than me! After that I sat in a pub to watch the action on TV until about 4pm then I went back the Muur to wait for the race. It was fun watching the locals trying to get into a good position on the hillside above the Muur. A police officer would come by and tell them to move, as soon as she'd gone new ones would clamber up. In the end even with re-enforcements she had to give up, she couldn't block the race! After the lead group and the chasers came past the crowd went down to the square just above the main church where a large screen showed Boonen's triumphant entry into Meerbeke.


I was a perfect weekend, and one that I hope I can repeat again. Though I think I need to improve power if there's any chance of
getting up the Koppenberg in the saddle. Even on such a dry day my back wheel was spinning as I was out the saddle. Something to aim for in 2006 ...

What's the next challenge??

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