I’ve been off cycling and touristing the last week or so , first in Paris for four days where I walked 8-10 miles a day and tried to see all the things.. My favorite was the Bourse De Commerce, thank you Tempo athlete Christy G for the recommendation! I then took a high-speed train to Brussels ( 298 km/hr is pretty amazing) and got a bit lost before hopping a local train to Oudenaarde Belgium, where I will be based for the next week or so with a crew from the Bay Area.
I rode the We Ride Flanders Sportive on Saturday in 9 degree rain on a crappy rental bike that had not been maintained well. The brakes wore out roughly 30 km into the ride, forcing me to first stop on the side of the road and work on them several times, then have Shimano Neutral Support replace them at a rest stop. With the slow going I opted to shorten my day from the planned 179 km route to 144 km, which by the time I returned to the Chainstay, stripped off the soaking clothes, and pressure washed the bike ( this place is DIALED for the bike racer ) still took me close to 8 hours with all the stops.
I was very happy with my pacing, planned using the INSCYD Carbmax modeling and just using heart rate for this trip. Maybe a bit conservative, but I rode all the climbs, including the infamous Koppenberg and still had plenty of energy at the end. I also had to dial it back and ride in the small ring for the last 30K due to more mechanical mayhem with the front derailleur, but a good chance to revisit some track pedaling skills!
Yesterday we were able to spectate in several different spots along the Ronde Van Vlaanderen or Tour Of Flanders pro races, chasing the race along tiny roads in the Flemish countryside in a van. We finally ended up at the Paterberg for the mens’ peloton, two trips up the fabled climb, and catching the womens’ race as well. What an amazing atmosphere all day ! To give an American context on this, imagine the Superbowl driving through your county every year, with hundreds of thousands of spectators, it was truly amazing.
We are looking forward to a week of smaller rides and a couple of day trips to Bruges and Ghent, then taking on the Hell of The North Sportive next Saturday, followed by the pro race on Sunday.
Be well and ride bikes!