April 4, 2017 at 12:24 pm #17763
Our Flanders weekend started off in fine form, with a Friday afternoon spin around the canals followed by pasta bolognese and beer back at Chris’ house. We kept a close eye on the very changeable forecasts weather for Saturday which made it look like we’d be ok for a dry start in Antwerp.
We headed off to Antwerp on Saturday in ok conditions so thought all was well, then once riding from the minibus to the start the weather decided otherwise. It started raining as we queued with up to 6,000 other riders and didn’t stop until at least 90 minutes into the ride. Once it did stop the breeze and temperature helped us dry out fairly well.
The ride itself started out nice and flat out of Antwerp and didn’t really change as predicted until after 70-80 miles in.
We ended up split into smaller groups and tackled the climbs as best we could – full course detail here http://www.sport.be/werideflanders/2017/en/parcours/
The waffles, energy food and drinks were very welcome and certainly helped. I never realised just how addictive Belgian waffles were until now 🙂
The cobbled areas and climbs certainly lived up to their reputations and my next bar tape came in very handy, well that is until the rain got underneath it and it started to unravel from the drops.
Once we had conquered the climbs it was time to head for Oudenaarde which was preceded by approx 15km of really flat roads which helped ease off the legs and also increase our average speeds. All of our times were very close together, so overall it was a very good day in the saddle for team Avanti.
Sunday was a slightly easier day with many beers etc being consumed while watching the pro race at different sections of the Oude Kwaremont, and we promise it wasn’t us that left a coat overhanging that took down Sagan et al.
It is an excellent event if you haven’t done it before and no doubt one you’ll want to do again if you have done it before.
Thanks again to Chris for his hospitality and generosity in allowing us to camp out at his house.
P.S. Antwerp looked really nice as a destination holiday, we just couldn’t appreciate that at 8am in the dark and rain.
Hope to see some of you this weekend.
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by Bill Fitzgerald.
April 5, 2017 at 1:19 pm #17771
Good write up Bill!
This was a memorable weekend, and takes a couple of days for a full recovery (well, for me at least). Great company from start to finish and great fun.
All 10 of the Avanti team did the full 241km course, including the 21km of cobbled roads and 16 climbs (or Bergs). Well done to Graham “Golden” Channon who rolled in with the best time – OK, not a race, but an offical time of just over 9hrs including stops and a 30 minute walk in the Antwerp rain is not to be sniffed at. Everyone else, not far behind. Strong group!
This was my 9th year in succession of doing the long route, and I loved every minute (other than getting out of Antwerp). I rode at my own pace throughout, and it was great to join up with Sam over the final 80km – and we put in a big push over the final, flat, 10km pulling quite a train behind us. Thanks Sam for riding at my pace!
There are stacks of pictures on the club’s Facebook page, not least covering the pro race from the Sunday. Great sunshine, beers, brilliant viewing spot……and we didn’t get lost travelling there or back!
On to next year, and my 10th edition. Retirement might follow 🙂
April 2, 2017 at 5:15 pm #17732
Looking forward to the stories flooding in from the hardy GSA contingent returning from their tour of Flanders this weekend.
In the meantime a few words on activities closer to home. The conditions were okay for the first TT of the year at Sundridge on Sat am, still a lingering breeze in the air and an early morning chill but not bad for what was my debut on a TT bike. There was a strong showing of GSA riders out with Jonathan H, Rob G, Andy S and Dan P apparently flying around as usual. I managed to pilot my TT rig okay but was a little tentative as still unaccustomed to the bike and ride position, was pleased with my time of just over 27mins in the end though.
The G1/2 ride this morning was planned and led by Lee Staples and consisted of er, just the two of us… where was everyone?! Ah yeah, okay will let them off! Lee was clearly feeling spritely after his fortnight training Mallorca recently and I was feeling pretty fresh so we ended up whistling out to Marden and back at a brisk pace. Lee doing the lion’s share on the front with a few cameo appearances from me! Weather was superb, route was fantastic with some decent flat sections, cheers Lee. Ended up clocking up 121kms at 31.2km/h or 19.5mph in old money so all in all a couple of solid outings this weekend.
April 2, 2017 at 3:52 pm #17731
G3 started with myself, phil, ash, lee, sergei, tim, sandra and dave but lby the time we had got to badgers mount, Lee had decided enough was wnough, sorry Lee! We continued through Kemsing, tinker pot, stone st where Alan and Gill passed us and waved hello. Thence onwards through Plaxtol and bit n bit to East Peckham where Brian B said hello and joined the gang. All was going well until the turn for Laddingford where we discovered the road closed due to a half marathon. We met Alan and Gill again and all headed for Marden via the return route. Magic lane dispatched we returned to the garden centre for lunch. Ash and Phil decided to continue at this point but a good coffee and soup was had. Return via Plaxtol and back to the green with 65 miles at 16.5mph being the scores on the doors. Fine weather and good company made this a pleasant ride. Welcome to Sergei, Tim and Sandra, all strong riders
April 2, 2017 at 1:56 pm #17730
What a lovely day for a bike ride. G4 started with 8 and headed off to Oxted via Ide Hill, Hever and Edenbridge. We picked up Lee P on the way. This was my first go at ride leading so it was a little daunting that all the other riders were G3 regulars.
All was going well until Subhesh had a spectacularly loud blow out on a downhill section at Hever. Fortunately, he was OK but the same couldn’t be said for the tyre. However, Peter, our very own “4th emergency service” carries a spare tyre so after a bit of a practice we managed to get going again.
We stopped at Cafe Nero in Oxted where Dave B was waiting for us to make sure we were all behaving.
Uneventful but very enjoyable ride back to Polhil. My Garmin shows 45 miles at 15.1 with just over 2,000ft of climbing. Bit quicker than I’m used to so many thanks to all those who helped on the front and dragged me along.
April 1, 2017 at 9:59 pm #17728
Er, change that to well done to all those who “rode” Flanders today !
April 1, 2017 at 9:55 pm #17727
The Early Saturday ride today set about a hilly route to Blackham. Our group was made up of Lee S, John C, Martin D, Simon P, Simon C, Gary P, Russ and Myself. Lee in particular seemed keen to chalk off the miles and get to his coffee. So with me leading from the middle(ish), a strong field made its way out via Chevening, Ide Hill, Chiddingstone and Chiddingstone Hoath to reach our destination and turning point of Blackham. The return leg brought us back into Cowden, Markbeech, Hever, Ide Hill (again), and then following a vote in the Ide Hill car park a Sunridge Hill/Cudham combo to get us home. All was looking good as we calmed the heart rates at the top of Sundridge, and looked forward to the refreshments waiting at the bottom of Cudham Lane. However, a little more than 500 yards from our regroup, Martin suffered a spectacular mechanical failure that was to end his ride there and then. I returned just in time to not help very much as he and Lee wrestled the pedal,crank and chainring from his right shoe, having detached itself from the rest of his bike !. Luckily it didn’t cause any harm to Martin, and in the end at his insistence we left him, awaiting pick up from the family support vehicle which was only a couple of miles away. Less than a km down the road and Simon C pulled up, having told John C he had a mechanical of his own, but we should carry on to Belmondos. Sitting there in the presence of Mrs Clarke for more than 10 minutes without a proper explanation as to where her husband was wasn’t sitting too easily with the ride leader, but just as the concern was building he duly arrived having had to fix a puncture. Phew !
Apart from the late mechanicals, it was a really enjoyable ride today with everyone helping out throughout the group, providing great support for each other. Thanks to all for their efforts. The ride on my Garmin totalled 68km at 24.9kph, with 900m of up.
Well done to those who took on the first TT of the year today, and good luck to all those riding in Flanders.
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