What’s in a name? – Well, these usual suspects.
The Ronde van Vlaanderan (RVV) is where roaring lions look for cobbles and hard climbs to devour. It is a race day celebrated by half a country. Some would say, the whole country, especially when it rains. It is the pride of Belgium – it is the 101st Tour of Flanders.
So why not take our bikes out and join them in spirit with a tribute ride? What could possibly go wrong? Well, the strict social pace was quickly thrown out the window on the very first climb; from 16 riders, we were now down to 5. This wasn’t in the script.
Once we got re-organised and communicating again, like we’d planned, we were out, riding together and making a day of it. And thankfully, from then on, it was full on sunshine and smiles.
Lauren and Debs had recced the route plenty of times before, and now it was time to share the love with the rest of the team. Unlike our usual Medium-Box ride, rather than continuing west into Cobham proper, we swing south through quiet lanes towards Fetcham and Westhumble. What we lack in way of cobbles, we sure make up for by way of climbs, and that’s when the fireworks go off.
In the meantime, this little race was going on for the women’s elite. The eventual winner had already won 70 national championships, and she would become the first from her country to win the RVV. Guess who?
Back to the Danger Men
This may look like a friendly social, but once we hit the climb to Box, it was each Baroudeur for themselves. It is no surprise then, that the return to Richmond was no different. Racing back for the honour, there were at least three groups vying for the top spot, and a whole lot of stragglers in between.
3 Days of Pain
To appreciate the drama that was to unfold for the 101st RVV, you may want to watch the stage race known as ‘Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde’, or what we like to call, the ‘3 Days of Pain’ set in, you’ve guessed it, Belgium.
37 and still going…
Celebrating the Lions
We hatch a plan to make it back to town and catch the last km’s of the race at a certain cycling cafe on Brewer Street. We meet a nice chap by the name of Nigel sporting a very tasty RVV jersey in black and yellow. Nice.
With every meal comes a free Belgian beer. I hand my beer away and tuck into the eggs. Delicious. As we tuck in, a friendly member of staff informs us of their free raffle – simply pick a name by random in a cycling cap, of course, and if you pick the winner, you win a Classic Jersey. With the race being ever so popular, and the cafe getting full, we dip our hands in the cap with low expectations. To our surprise we pull out a few hot favourites, but still no Sagan?
That coat, that fence, and that walk
It all happens, and we have a winner. 3+ hours of riding for us and 6+ hours of racing for the pros. There is no comparison.
What a way to lose it and what a way to win. Aller Gilbert!
Thanks to Debs and Lauren for organising this club ride. And thanks to this gent, for winning us a jersey:
Their Time: 6:23:45hrs | Distance: 260km | Elevation 3154m
Our Time: 3:41:11hrs | Distance: 97.6km | Elevation 777m
Can I ride Flanders?
Yes, you can! What is it like for a London Baroudeur to ride Flanders? Here’s a conversation with Will ‘The Baron’ Harrison, on how he rode with the Lions.
Stay tuned for our next club ride, or email us for details at [email protected]