Friday, June 22, 2007

Long day on Flanderian cobbles

Beautiful day in Belgium, bought some new Hutchinson tyres at the bike shop. 1/2 price, as mine are getting cut up a little faster than planned. Cool shop, carry those cool Bratvus dutch bikes we started carrying at the Cyclery, plus a ton of cool Eddy Merckx bikes. Not a lot of cool random stuff to pick up souvenir wise. Got home, little bit of rain, cool temperatures, and finally the word I'd been waiting for; I'm on the recon ride. Rushed around, packed my bag and quickly changed my front tube (apparently I'd had my first flat yesterday sometime). Jumped into the "fun bus" with the other boys and hit the road. As we drove, the sun came out. Arriving in Gooik, we parked the bus and dressed ourselves for the ride. Hitting the road we, headed off, following the yellow signs we thought where the course. Through the rolling roads, we followed these sings until they eventually ended. Pulling out a map, and making ourselves look even more like tourists (remeber that we 6 dudes wearing American flag spandex) we attempted to figure out the course. No luck, so instead we pointed ourselves towards the climbs of the course: the Mur, the Bossburg, the Kongaburg (all famous from Tour of Flanders). After 3 hours ride time and one bakery stop, we hit the Mur. And what an incredible climb it was. Steep, cobbled and twisty, I climbed, watching the names written on the road before me, seeing the steep sections where the greats had once attacked to victory. As I accelerated through these corners I quickly came to the top to take in the view. With a cool church and giant cross on the top, I waited for the rest to summit and took a few pictures. After descending the cobbles (much sketchier than climbing) we hit it again, to get a better feel for the climb. Most definitely one of the coolest things I have ever ridden. After the top, we descended down the other side and headed off towards the Bosburg. Arriving at the base, attacks started to fly as many were anxious to get some speed for the slightly rougher Bosburg. It was not quite as fun, more of a single gradient, and harder due to the fact that you could constantly see the finish straight ahead of you. None the less, cobbled climbs are the bomb. After that and a few more pictures, we started the ride back to the fun bus. End ride time, 4.5 hours; distance, 123km; fun factor, 10 on 10. Getting home, exhausted at about 8:30, everyone quickly showered, ate and hit the sack. Good nights sleep last night for sure. Gonna take it a little easier today, maybe ride to the awesome bakery in Oostkamp (as our local one is closed for a week for summer holidays). Nice easy day, spin de legs. Gotta make sure my legs are good to go for the race on Sunday. Feelings are good though, I hope there are some cobbled climbs!

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