I am starting to get a bit excited for the cyclo version of the Tour of Flanders. It is this Saturday 2 April 2011 and starts in Ninove (for the 140 km and 70 km routes), about 25km West of Brussels. For those who have more time (and no wife and kids I guess), there is also the 260 km route starting in Bruges, which is more 100 km from Brussels.
There is going to be a lot of people (around 20 000), and I did not pre-register, which is not very smart. I will have to get there well in advance, around 6:30, so that I can at least hope to not cue too long… That means leaving Brussels around 6:00. So an early start.
Training wise, I am fitter than I have ever been. Sure, I have never ridden more than 70km, but I have been doing intervals in indoors spinning classes 2-3 times a week and done a 2-3 hours ride every Sunday for the last six months. I also did more hilly rides and some pavés around Brussels the last couple of weeks. I hope that is enough. When I did the Omloop cyclo, I still felt super fresh after the 65km circuit. We will see.
I still have not decided whether I would do the short route (70 km) or the medium one (140 km). It will depend on my form. Indeed, I did not realise that 1 April is right before 2 April, and we planned a dinner in a gastronomical restaurant (Le Coriandre) with my partner and some good friends on Friday evening. I will avoid drinking too much wine and take dishes that are not too rich, but whatever I do, this means I will not get as much sleep as would be needed. But hey, it adds an extra challenge!
“Behind the scenes” documentaries made by a corporation are often of limited interest. They are usually just sophisticated marketing videos. But in this case, the Cervélo team has actually made something interesting of good quality with their “Behind the peloton” series.
It has been going on for two years, and they are continuing with a third “season” despite the merger with the Garmin team. The two previous seasons are available on the Cervélo website, and I have just started going through them. Below you will find the introduction to the new season.
Part of the appeal is also in the quality of the material, in true HD. In this episode there is also a bit about the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and a section on the Molenberg. Real fun to watch!
Belgium is supposed to be a flat country (as per Jacques Brel singing “Mon Plat Pays“and “Mijn Vlakke Land“). Well, it is less hilly than, say, a mountainous country like Luxembourg. But compared to Netherlands, it’s properly alpine!
So when the wind blows, it really blows. What do you do when you are a Dutch cyclist? Well, you train your echelon technique. And you try not to fall off your bike, because you know it is going to be very tricky to get back on it (see at 00:46 in the video below).
The kids in the video are from the Sinnige bouw team. They are located in North-Holland, below sea-level, in the polders of the North-Western part of the Kingdom. And they like Dutch techno music.
Branding permeates our life and everybody consolidates. For some things, this is a pain. But for cycling events, it makes things simpler for people like me: it creates a label and simplifies choice of quality events, without necessarily affecting the quantity of events.
It has been set up by the cycling clubs of the Pajottenland and the Dender valley (so the area just West of Brussels) in order to promote the cyclo events they organise. There will be fifteen in all this year, in 2011, spaning from 17 April until 9 October.
As for the events under the banner of the Banque Postale Tour and of Flanders Classics, these are not races or even timed events, but basically organised randonnées. I dislike the word, but these are “cyclotourist” events and not “cyclosportives” in the strict sense (the latter term usually referring to timed events).
The concept is that you ride with a bunch of other cyclists on open roads, with a circuit marked by the organisers (on the ground or with signs), feeding stations and some form of broom wagon should anything happen to you. Cyclists being cyclists, you will be (sort-of) racing against co-participants along the way and will probably try to pass people (and be passed by old flandriens with steel bikes). But in the end, these are pleasant and facilitated strolls trough the countryside.
I really like that guy. His appeal is probably linked to him being a first class cyclist, as hard as they make them, but also a more experienced guy who has some perspective on cycling and is outspoken. He also has a good sense of humour.
Last year, he shared his thoughts during the Tour de France, writing an article each day in Bicycling, and mentioning the book he was reminded of during the stage (the books were not high litterature, but is that really relevant?). Fun to go through again.
But the purpose of this blog post is to signal a very interesting interview he gave to Christopher Jones from Bicycles Network Australia, in five parts (four of them already published). Not to be missed!
From three years back, but still as fresh. It captures really well the spirit of the Ronde and of cycling in Flanders in general. This beautiful commercial for Het Nieuwsblad is directed by the Belgian director Stijn Coninx. They filmed, inter alia, in Grimminge near Ninove, at the Bosberg and at the Muur of Geraardsbergen.
In the same spirit, don’t miss the very moving pictures by the Belgian photographer Stephan Vanfleteren: Flandriens.