Monday, April 25, 2005

The Davitamon Classic!

So last Friday, Henk emailed me to remind me of the fact that the Davitamon Classic was on on Saturday. We'd discussed doing it and I was favourably inclined to the idea, so I'm glad he reminded me. It was slightly more interesting than the Saturday bunch ride, and about 60 km longer, as we chose the 150 km loop + it was 30 km to Nazareth and back from Gent (yes, Jesus was born in Belgium).

It was only €7 to sign up and you got a route map and four feed zones, which was a bit of overkill, although I guess I could have skipped brekky. The course was quite good, it has to be said. You just had to follow orange arrows that were painted on the road, and it was almost impossible to get lost. We rolled out and hit the Schelde for a few kilometres before turning off at Zingem, like we do on the normal Sunday ride. Then it was up the hill via Korsele and across to the Trap Op, where the first feed zone was. After having done only 35 km, the presence of breakfast was still strong, and we opted to skip this one.

Then it was down the other side through Schorisse and up some new hills that took us near La Houppe. I was down this way last Thursday but didn't actually do many of these roads. Now I know how to get to the back way up La Houppe. We had picked up a passenger at this stage, who rolled through for the odd turn, but we couldn't find a bunch to ride with, alas. I think we left a bit late to get with a good group. Dang. I blame myself.

Went up the fairly steep Cote du Hurdumont, where a photographer snapped pics of Henk and I (thanks Jo for pointing those out!). I was quite enjoying my new bike, I must say. 7.3 kg is nice for climbing hills, and it's also got a 39x25 so you can spin up just about anything.

We caught Henk's dad, who'd taken a few shortcuts, just before the feed zone at km 47 (60 for me). So we stopped there and I grabbed some Extran, muesli bar, orange, cake etc., even though I didn't really need it. In fact, for the next 30 km it just sat there before finally deciding that it was going to be more useful as energy. We had to do a 50 km loop before returning to this feed zone, and that involved several more hills, including the Hameau des Papins, 1.2 km at 12% - definitely one for the 39x25.

The roads were great: lots of narrow, twisting lanes, with not much traffic save for a couple of thousand cyclists. It wasn't anything like as busy as the Ronde van Vlaanderen, so that was good. Got to the second feed zone (km 112 on my clock) and stocked up again on the same stuff. I didn't even need to touch my second water bottle or my dextro energy tablets.

Right after the feed zone, we did the Kanarieberg, aka the other side of the Muziekbos. 1100 m at 13% and fairly nasty, especially with several bits of cake and choc coated museli bars floating around in your stomach. A lethal cocktail if ever I felt one.

We cruised up around the back of the Hotonde, actually descending into Ronse before taking a hard right at the bottom and going up the Hotondberg - De Klijpe. It was marked at 2100m at 17%, but there was no way it was that long. More like 500m. But it was that steep! It sort of skirted around the Hotonde, but again on some really cool narrow roads. Very fun! We ended up on the main road between Ronse and Kluisbergen, descended and did the first part of the Oude Kwaremont, which was about climb 13. We passed one of the few women I saw on the whole ride, and she was going pretty well. Henk graciously dropped back just in case she needed a hand.

Then it was across to the Paterberg, which is mercifully short but mercilessly steep: 400m at 12.5%. The gutter was clear so I went up the "easy way", avoiding most of the cobbles. I'm not stupid. Managed it in 1'35, which is my best so far. I followed the wrong orange signs on the descent, because I thought it was the same as the RVV, but I soon realised my error when Henk went the opposite way.

After that it was a steady ride up through Kerkhove, Kaster, Wortegem-Petegem, Ooike and the final feed zone at Huise. I started to feel ok by this point and we were zipping along through the back roads at 35+ km/h, bound for the feed zone. Thus I was surprised that the girl we'd passed on the Kwaremont 25 km previous rolled in a few minutes behind us. I realised later (because we did the same thing) that she had hooked onto a big bunch, and they weren't mucking around.

The final feed zone was good: two Red Bulls, one from each girl, lots of chocolate (yeah it was only another 25 km home, but who can resist free choccy?), and the usual cake/muesli bars/fruit/water/extran. We took a shortcut which saved us a good kilometre, and then rode back to Nazareth with the aforementioned bunch. I wish we'd found them at the beginning!

15 climbs, 180 km, about 30 clicks an was all good!

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