Wednesday 9 June 2010
I rode the Flanders sportive 2 years ago with Gary (far left) - he's one of those lithe, lean effortless type riders packing a climber's genetics and the technique to match. Honed as a semi-pro mountain biker in a previous Century and a different continent, he made mince-meat of the Flandrian bergs and cleaned the Koppenberg while all around him skidded to a halt and fell off in a heap, blocking the way. He must have moonlighted as a cycle courier too at some point as he found gaps that didn't exist as he swerved and dodged the carnage to the top of that legendary climb. He hurt me on every climb after that too, and on the crazy blast for home from the top of the Bosberg.
Fast forward to last Sunday and a trip to the Hell of the North and its bi-annual Sportive. He did invite me to complete our Classics double but I was unable to go, much to my chagrin.
Here are some of his random recollections, preceeded by the text I got on Sunday night after he finished:
Oh. My. God. Words can't describe how hard that was. Torrential rain, blazing sun, had it all.
- Seeing Rob's quick release open after a particularly bad section of pave. Scary.
- Riding all of 100 yards on Saturday and wondering whether I'd be able to finish that section never mind the whole thing.
- The detritus of bottles, tubes, pumps at the start of the Inchy pave.
- Researching who Jean Stablinski was/is.
- Looking back at the Arenberg trench and getting shivers down my spine. That was mainly the cold, but it was exciting too.
- Seriously considering the possibilities of dying in the thunder and lightning in a northern French industrial estate.
- Thinking that the pave couldn't get any worse and then hitting the l'Arbre section and almost ceasing any forward motion.
- That moment of turning into the velodrome and onto the track... was possibly the greatest cycling moment I've ever experienced. The only slight scare was when I went way high on the track and for one second thought I might go skidding down the banking after hitting one of those ads.
I didn't. It was f*cking ace.
Chapeau. We shall call you Flahute.