As a follow up to a previous post, the video edit from the Red Bull De Muur event (Edit: the video was removed, for some reason. I replaced it with a well filmed Muur reconnaissance with classics rider Andrea Tafi).

From about 80 participants, in road bikes, cycle-cross bikes and mountain bikes, it came down to 6 finalists who competed against each other at sundown. The winner was Dennis Ebert of the Merida Bassa Biking Team, on a MTB. The guy with the glasses in the video is Nick Nuyens, the winner of the Ronde in 2011 (and I am not going to translate the stuff they say in the video: totally uninteresting, even by sports videos standards).

Saturday, it’s the cyclo, Sunday, it’s the race. Not to be missed!

It is an old advertisement by Peijnenburg, but I found it super funny (via @Inner Ring).

(Picture by placid casual)

The week-end before last was my first ride in Belgium for a long time. I want to do the Tour of Flanders Cyclo again this year and have to get in shape. To be honest, I am not quite there yet. Especially as my knees tend to hurt after only 60-70 km, even without cobble stones.

 

Anyway, until now, I had been mostly riding alone or with a friend, be it during “training” (big word, should perhaps rather say  ”self-planned”) rides or during cyclosportives. Not always easy to start around 9:00 when your partner has to stay at home with the small ones. So going alone allows for a much earlier start. But the week-end before last I finally got to ride with a club.

 

The first taste of club riding I got last autumn, when I did the really nice Brevet organized by the Aurore Cyclo of Anderlecht.

 

Since I was hesitating on the distance to choose, they just suggested I hook up with some of their members who were about to take off. It was quite nice to be able to chat and just ride along. You also get to hide behind a diesel locomotive for part of the ride. As they say, depending on the size of the cyclist in front and the distance you are able to keep with that cyclist in front, you can save from 10 to 40% energy. Not sure about how they get to those numbers, but it is pretty clear you don’t work as hard when you are drafting (i.e. riding in the slipstream close behind someone’s rear wheel).

 

Also, you do not have to worry about getting lost. Because when you ride alone, even with a GPS, you tend to get lost. I am not even talking when your ride with the fietsnet system, which is fantastic, but sometimes quite tricky… Those Flemish villages and roads all look the same.

 

And finally, last but least, you get to meet people who share your passion, which is really nice.

 

So after that experience, I decided I would try to ride with a club at the earliest opportunity. Now Anderlecht, the home base of the Aurore Cyclo club, is pretty far away from where I live. But there are clubs all over Brussels, and I chose to just try riding with the Brussels Big Bracket, who start their Sunday rides a few streets down from where I live, in the Bois de La Cambre. Plus they are somewhat international and have the coolest jersey of the Brussels cycle scene. Check out their website, they have plenty of resources on there, including interesting routes and a calendar. Plus vivid accounts of rides, which make one want to pick up the bike and go ride (the account of the ride I attended is here).

 

What to say about the experience? Well, there was a great atmosphere and club spirit. The group was of 16 guys, of all ages and all walks of life, some of them members of the club, others not. We rode along, stopping at the top of hills or when one of us flatted.  The rhythm was really optimal, about 27 km/h on average: not too hard, but not too easy either. Some of them were going harder or taking longer pulls in front. Others rode at a relaxed pace. But the idea is very much: out together, back together and having a good time.

 

I am not sure whether I will have other opportunities soon to ride with them, but it was a great experience!

 

The cyclo clubs in Brussels are listed on the website of the Fédération Belge du Cyclotourisme et du VTT.

To be honest, I have some trouble with the idea of downhill mountainbiking. But this video is just beautiful. Plus it is in Norway, which is cool ’cause it reminds we of work. Sort of. Anyway, here it is! 

 


This really look like an idiotically hard and fun contest, which I’m looking forward to see published as a faced-paced video on the Red Bull website. If I had the time, I would probably give it a try.


Basically, it is a 300 meter time-trial up the Muur van Geraardsbergen/Kapelmuur (the last 300 M, with a gradient of around 15-20%). Finalists will then go through a Knock-Out, 6 by 6, at night.

More info here.

There is also another similar (yet a bit less teenagey) event organized on 11 March 2012, the Skoda Muur Challenge. They have a regular cyclo, but also include a time-trial up the Muur. Not 300 m, but the whole 1 km.

 

Anyway, don’t know when I’ll have the next opportunity to go up the Muur this year. Indeed, now that it has been removed from the Ronde van Vlaanderen pro event, it will also be excluded from the cyclo version. Which is really unfortunate, because it was probably the most iconic hellig to go up.

 

I guess I’ll just have to include it in one of my Sunday rides!

I am a big fan of the guy, and he has an amazing motor in his legs. He made a magistral demonstration of his power today and won the Strade Bianche race in Tuscany, around Siena.

In the words of Jered Gruber, in his great account of the race on Pez Cycling:

It has been far too long since we last saw Spartacus unleash massive nuclear fury on his pedals. It’s baptismal in its beauty and awesomeness. Cancellara is time trailing. Cancellara is gone. This is classic Cancellara. 

Cancellara – one attack, one solo effort, victory. There are few more impressive than Cancellara when he’s on. He doesn’t just win, he destroys.

The highlights of the race:

Many of the bigger cyclosportives in Belgium are under the one or the other label. But some of them are outside. Here are some of them, organized by Golazo Sport, the biggest flemish sports events organizer:

  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège Challenge (21 April 2012): a day before the professionals, following the same route as them, contrary to the (three times more populated) Decathlon Tilff-Bastogne-Tilff of the Banque de la Poste Cycling Tour, which takes place on 27 May 2012. The latter takes place in the same area as the pro event, but misses highlights such as the totally barbarian Côte de Stockeu.
  • La Philippe Gilbert (28 April 2012): Hill after hill after hill, in the Ardennes.
  • Grand Départ Tour de France Cyclo (30 June 2012): not clear whether this will take place, we will have to see whether the website (here) ever becomes active. The event would take place in the Liège region, while the professionals are doing the Prologue. I checked with the organisation and this cyclo has been cancelled. Unfortunate, but at least we now know!
  • Tourtocht WK Wielerrennen (15 September 2012): The cyclo of the road world championship in Limburg, on the same route as the professionals, including the Cauberg and the Bemelerberg. Not exactly in Belgium, but close by.