My regular physical taskmaster, I mean training partner, Dave Haygarth had pointed out the string of riders snaking over the Widdop Road in front of us and said 'You did that!' as he he encouraged me to take a moment to savour the turnout of 60-70 riders for last Saturday's event.
I hadn't thought about it in those terms either before or even after that moment - the Ronde for me was, is and will always be an extension of my slightly (rather?) too intense love affair with the humble cobble and the art of riding a bike over them. Of course we don't have the cobbles of Belgium or Roubaix here in Lancashire, or the UK as a whole. But we do have some extraordinary relics from a bygone Industrial era here in this Eastern corner of the County, as well as some stunning countryside and lanes.
And that's all it is really - a combination of cheeky cobbles and great riding roads, all of which just happen to have a serious dose of contours in their midst. It combines nicely to recreate, for me at least, some of the intensity of riding in Flanders, all on my doorstep.
Perhaps others too feel that yearn to find those short sharp climbs, cobbled or otherwise, and go and play in their midst. The social aspect too can't be overlooked. It was after a brief spell riding big organised sportives that I began to think in different terms - don't get me wrong, I enjoyed those sportives and their superb routes, and usually great organisation. But the thought dawned on me after a while - why I am paying good money to ride round places I often know, and often with people I don't know?
As a teenager and young adult, I used to pore endlessly over OS maps, imagining trips, runs, rides, anything really, in the terrain mapped out. The maps told me so much about an area, apart from what it looked like. The excitement was in the discovery of the new, and in discovering it with friends. Fast forward a good few years and the same process led to seeking out the nooks and crannies of my (new to me) local area. Combined with a desire to experience cobbled riding by way of training for a virgin trip to Flanders and the massive sportive there, the idea of the Ronde was born. My new found neighbour and riding buddy Mark, suffered many of those proto Ronde trips, guinea pig to my cobbled obsessions. I vividly remember the look of disgust on his face as I hauled him up one particularly steep and rough cobbled climb on a Sunday morning. He has come round somewhat since....
Thinking about it, I don't intend to actually write a blow by blow report (the report that isn't a report) - Saturday's Ronde 2011 will mean so many different things to so many different people but feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far. Thanks for the thanks! I hope that my efforts not to make this into an 'Event' in a competitive, organised sense have in fact created an 'event' with a small 'e' - something people can look forward to, meet up with new and old friends, chat about, laugh about and experience in their own way.
I can't however thank enough David, Laura, Clare, Cath and Ady from Sportsunday for banter, cake and a great visual record of the day.
And finally, thanks to all that came and rode, some making very long journeys to get there. Hope to see you next year - I can't see how I am going to get away with avoiding running it again......
Check back again soon for a pic dump of further images from the day.
In the age of commercial interest coming first in many aspects of life it is refreshing to see a non commercial event being so well run and received. The atmosphere in the car park before the event was fantastic, this continued through to the end even from those in pain and shock!! A big thanks to crossjunkie for his time and effort, you see it was worth it, for signing each junction and getting it all together. Sportsunday for the cake, water, friendly encouragement and great photos.
time to put your feet up Al
It sounds like it was properly ace. Sadly work got in the way and I was unable to attend :(
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