Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Thing are Looking Up!

What a fantastic day! First my bike showed up from the airport at 9 am so I was able to get it quickly set up so I could explore Oudenaarde, my home away from home for the next month.

 Main Square Oudenaarde

Just seconds after I visited the main square I couldn't believe my eyes when I found myself back in Kingston.

Then I set out to explore the countryside and the roads of the Ronde von Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). I did 3 of the 17 climbs on the cobbles - the Koppenberg, Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont. The climbs are very deceptive, for instance, the Koppenberg is only 600 m at 11.6 % avg gradient. When you get to the bottom it looks like a very shallow 3 % and it never really looks like more than 6 % even when it kicks up to 22 %. All you realize is that you are suddenly breathing very heavily and your upper body is getting an extreme workout (not to mention the burning thighs). I can't believe this could be ridden with road tires. CX tires certainly made the cobbles more manageable.

View from the bottom of the Koppenberg

On the way back on the "Eddy Merckx" Route (there are actually little signs marking this and the Tour of Flanders), I ran across this cool mural. The 3 heads on the left are the famous Belgian cyclists Roger de Vlaeminck (winner of all the famed classic races), Lucien Van Impe (Tour de France winner 76) and Eddy himself.

After this ride, which turned out to be much longer than expected (3.5 hours), I got back had 10 min to gobble down a few sandwiches and then to CX training with Craig, Gabby and two others staying close by (one from the UK and his Belgian girlfriend).

Craig Richey (L) and Gabby Day (3rd from L) plus a couple of their friends
We went to a place called the Donk. I'm not sure what that translates into but maybe it's the name of the lake there. Anyway, there were some fantastic cross trails and we ran into another 5 or so also training there. After about 6 technical loops, including one slideout on a muddy descent, various dismounts with clay stair climbs (yes, someone must actually carve out stairs in the clay hill side), we practiced about 5 starts with the 5 of us lined up together.

After the 75 min workout it was time to head back and clean up the bikes. I wish I had one of these power washes at home - makes cleaning the bike a breeze!

Now my lower back is sore after 5 days off the bike. Holly, the co-owner of the Chain Stay, is a licensed massage therapist and cycling soigneur. Maybe it's time for Mark Frederick's favorite past time!

As I sign off, I should say Happy Birthday to Jim L. You should have come with me, there's a vacant room (at least for a while)!! Send some comments everyone. I suppose I should show up at the lab tomorrow at the University of Ghent!

1 comment:

  1. Colin - very envious. You have had an amazing cycling year.