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.

 

 

 (Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2012 – Photo Peter Malaise)

 
Like last year, I am starting to look ahead and plan for the cyclosportives of next year. All my posts on last year’s 2011 calendar are still available here.

Most of these events are not Gran Fondo or cyclosportives in the strict sense (i.e. timed events), but what we call here cyclotourist/wielertoeristen events. Whatever you want to call it, these are basically the events for all of us who don’t have the time or the inclination for proper racing, but still enjoy organised and collective events. In Belgium, if you want to race, you go to a race, not a cyclosportive.

As for the magnitude of the events, you will find everything from the very fancy mass event (Ronde van Vlaanderen had 20 000 participants last year) to the very modest audax, with a few dozens of participants. I did the whole range and all of them are fun. Just depends what you are in the mood for.

For 2012, first, the generalists calendars:

  • Go Cycling calendar which tends to be very comprehensive and is independent from any specific event organiser. It lists events on both sides of the linguistic border (so Walloonia and Flanders) and is a good source for the more modest events (also has the big events, but you’ll find the latter more easily anyway).
  • Grinta! (the “official journal” for wielertouristen) has a selection of events it publishes on the web. The rest of the calendar is in the magazine, to which you might want to subscribe to. You can also get it in the bigger Relay newspaper stands in the main train stations of Brussels and of course in Flanders. It is really worthwhile, as it will provide an independent selection of the best events. Even if you do not understand a lot of Dutch (which is my case) and cannot read the rest of the articles.
  • Cycling.be (which belongs to the MSN portal) has a decent calendar.
  • The Vlaamse Wielrijdersbond (VWB – the Flemish Cyclists Union, not to be confused with the Wielerbond Vlaanderen, affiliated to the UCI) publishes a calendar of the events affiliated with them (which are most of the smaller cyclos organised in Flanders). You can click on the three sub-categories under “Kalender Wielertoerisme”.

 

(Kuurne Brussel Kuurne 2012 – Photo by Cindy Trossaert)

 

For the bigger series:

This should get you well into the summer! For the Gran Fondo, which are held later in the season and more in the Ardennes than in the Brabant or the Flemish Ardennes, it is going to be for another post.

 

With now two kids at home, lots of stuff at work to do and than less than optimal weather to go out and ride, I have not had much time to work on this blog. But I am going to try again and share info I have collected, like I did last winter.

Hope it helps someone!

Christophe Le Mével on the Passo del Rombo (Timmelsjoch)
(via @inrng)

Over the past few months my circumstances, my day job, and my expanding family have precluded me from doing anything beyond the indispensable. So this page has been suffering. But I have not given up and I have plenty to write about. I just need to find the time and the energy.

In the meantime, a strange strange interview of the Schleck brothers:

 

 

So after the reasoning behind it (in a previous post) the actual bike fitting at Ciclissimo in Brussels, on the basis of the Cyfac postural system. Well I had a day off and decided to do it then. I took an appointment and went there in the afternoon.

The store is located in the back of a courtyard in a street off Montgomery. I does not really look like a store actually, more like an office, with a series of smaller rooms around a corridor. The first room is the office/measuring room, and that is where things start.

We had a chat on type of cycling I do, my training level, age and weight, but also my objectives and general riding style. The next step was the actual measuring. He used the “Cyfac board”, which allows for  standardized measuring. He measured leg length, shoulder width, height to the shoulders, arm length and for the feet, distance between the heel and the first metatarsus.

This data is then entered into a computer program along with the characteristics of the bike and accessories (saddle, pedals, shoes), which then churns out the optimal position. This position is a function of body geometry and type of cycling. It also provides the ideal frame measurements (should you want to buy a new bike or have one made to measure). This is then used to adjust the bike fit.

Any position on the bike will be a compromise between comfort, power transfer efficiency and aero-dynamism. Obviously you only want to sacrifice comfort in so far as necessary to gain the aero-dynamism you need. Secondly, the younger you are and the more you train, the more you will be able to sustain a very flat and elongated position. In short, a racer will need every second he can get and will thus have a very flat and elongated position on the bike. A cyclosportif will be able to afford a slightly more upright position.

So once the data was entered and the result prepared, we went into the second room (pictured above). The second room contains a few models of bikes ciclissimo sells (Passoni, Cyfac, Tommasini).

He lowered my saddle and put it slightly more forward. He also changed the stem for a shorter one. Mine was a 110 cm stem, he replaced it with a 80 cm stem (30 Euro). He also recommended that I buy a wider handlebar (44 cm instead of the 42 cm of the existing handlebar). I waited a bit and bought a Ritchey WCS Logic II on troc-velo.be, which was brand new and cost me 35 Euro (shipping included). Finally, he recommended I buy shorter crank arms when mine would die. He also adjusted my cleats on my cycling shoes.

This means I now have a much more upright position on the bike. It not only feels very comfortable, but also feels much more stable and powerful. I used to get lower back pain during longer rides, which is something I don’t get anymore.

Having now ridden six months with this position, I am very happy I did a bike fitting. Could a cheaper bike fitting have done the trick? Difficult to say. The whole process consists in adding a few millimetres here and removing a few there. The precise nature of the Cyfac postural system helps getting precise results. For me, this worked well.

So I would definitively recommend getting a bike fitting, and ciclissimo is a very good option for that in Brussels.

 

Website: http://www.ciclissimo.be/

Address: 24 rue du Duc. 1150 Bruxelles (behind Montgomery)

Tel: 0486/ 35 25 73

 

The Tour de France has now been on for over a week, but the really hard part starts now. Most (French speaking) fans buy l’Equipe, which has always great coverage. The online version is ok, but not fantastic. Which makes sense, since they want you to buy the paper version.

But the online coverage elsewhere is great, and here are my daily sources of information:

In French, I never miss the article in the daily Libération by Jean-Louis Le Touzet, who always has an alternative take on things. Despite being a total cynic, and sometimes a total idiot, he has interesting things to say. The article of the day is behind a pay-wall, but the ones from previous days are available for free. Le Monde also has interesting articles, but very doping-centric, which is tiresome.

For the live feeds, that is normally country specific. I use the Belgian french-speaking public broadcaster RTBF or just go to my office’s “common room”, to watch the finale on our big-screen TV, together with a multicultural set of cycling fans.

I am quite busy with work related things right now and have less time to post (or to ride for that matter). But vacation is nearing and will give me back some time to post again!

In the meantime, a great parody of the euro PRO style from Robin Moore, who had already given us Performance. Enjoy!