What a great weekend,
An early start and a 7.50 chunnel meant we arrived in Ninove at friday lunch, signed on and collected race number , on to hotel in oudenaarde and met up with the rest of our club.
Bikes were hastily put together and the iconic climbs rattled off as we knew they would be very difficult to ' clean' on the day due to the sheer amount of cyclists.
Nothing really preapares you for the first taste of cobbles,tough to go up tough to down, where best to put your hands?
bar top, drops,hoods.. all tried, one of our party had severe blistering to his hands even though he had gloves on.
I was reintroduced to my lunch at the top of the Koppenberg, it was tough , but i was not feeling to good.
I retired to bed early to much mickey taking as the club sampled the very strong belgian beer'
We decided to have breakfast at the Hotel and not dash to a 7am start, 9.30 saw us joining around 25,000 participants on the well signposted and marshalled route.First hour quite flat, then come cobbles and about 13 climbs, 2 were so busy, we had to walk, so we glad we'd done them the day before.
If you start early or late i think you might get a clean run at most climbs,.
It was hot and sunny 23 c, not typical and stopping for water took time, but rather than the busy official stops , local cafes kept us hydrated.
Broken chain, was the only mechanical, no puntures, but it's tough on frames and bodys.
The cobbles were littered with bidons and cages and levers and food , jiggled out of normally cosy pockets and tight holders.
The level of interest in flanders is high and spectators were on hand to encourage you up the steepest climbs, whilst they drank beer in the sunshine.
Finish, meant beer and chips, and a medal...
Great hospitality in the bars on saturday night.
Sunday morning we saw the womens race set off, then dashed to see the men on the iekenberg, they do go very fast up the hills, has to be seen, you are very close to the pro's.
Watched the race climax in a bar then a couple of hours saw us back on the chunnel and home for a decentt cup of tea.
Great way to spend a weekend.... roll on next year, but i'll take a compact chain ring, next time and loose a stone... honest.