Sunday, August 07, 2005


The Eneco Tour's fourth stage was a farce, but stage 3 was a bit better. Go Alby.

In other happenings on two wheels (what other happenings are there?), it has come to my attention that our regular Schelde rides are under threat from the P'lice. Sarge. Due to complaints filed by certain worthy burghers out walking their dogs on a Wednesday evening, the wielertoeristen have been renamed the wielerterroristen. OK, so maybe 100 guys on a Wednesday evening at 7pm is a little scary, but the morning rides aren't quite as insane. However, there has been a distinct Police Presence as we roll along the Schelde of a morning for a pre-prandial (or post-prandial, if you've had brekky).

Clearly the local cops have nothing better to do, as the incidence rate of the heinous crime of dumping used bikes in the canals must have fallen to an all-time low. Instead, they have seen fit to disturb the solitude of the toeristen. We shall not be beaten! There are plans to form a People's Front of Zwijnaarde and Surrounds that will go underground (figuratively, at least) and ride at strange hours in order to throw the Police off our scent. And when they invade with their tanks, we will be ready. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall never surrender!

Thus, it has been desirous to keep up my training in case of an anti-terror push. After last weekend's rather painful outings, things took a turn for the better this week. 150 on Tuesday, no probs, then I broke my training TT record on a fairly windy Thursday. The idea is to train just below threshold for an hour, and for the first time I averaged 40 clicks on the canal run to Deinze and back. But I went a little harder than normal (160-163) so maybe it was cheating.

On Saturday we started off very slowly in two groups because of the vigilant cops. Then did the normal parcours. I did a few 3-5 min efforts on the front and even hit 190 coming back to the cafe. If nothing else, that's a sign that I can hit 190.

Sunday was the Berchem bunch, a little bigger this time around, but with no police even though it's apparently illegal to ride with more than 15 without a following car. Jeez, we were being right anarchists then.

After about 10 km, a couple of blokes rolled off the front and slowly went away. When we got over Mont St Aubert there was only one left, but Geert d'Hondt told me that he was a Belgian Champion. I don't know what in - could have been Greco-Roman wrestling - but when we caught him 20 km later after a solid chase, I could see what Geert meant. He was built like a tank - completely huge in all directions! He made Guy Callens look skinny, and that's saying something.

Anyway, the 20 km off the front had slowed him down a bit and we were all together at the foot of the Lahamaide climb, where I set the pace as usual. Tanks typically don't go up hills well, and I was somewhat relieved to hear Champion du Belgique breathing rather heavily when he did a turn at the top. Then there were five of us left, and we had to take the shortcut into Flobecq because the Way was Shut in front of us. We hit a thunderstorm at Quatre Vents and then with about 5 km to go Guy stopped to help another dude who had broken a spoke, leaving just me with the BC.

Fortunately he waved goodbye before the Hotonde and headed back down to Ronse. Obviously the thought of climbing the mighty Hotonde cracked him. That's what I must tell myself to give me confidence. On the way back I stopped to help three guys who didn't have a pump between them(!) At least they gave me a fairly good tow to the coke machine at Oudenaarde, where I imbibed of the restoratives before smashing my way home into that bloody headwind. Better start racing next week.

In other even more important news, Dad came for a Visitation last Tuesday, driving from Londres to Gent via the ferry. My deadly accurate directions failed at the last hurdle (oops) and he ended up at Sint Baaf's cathedral. "Does Jeff live here?" "No, only Het Lam Gods." Despite my best efforts, he found me in the end.

We had some larx and went back and saw Het Lam Gods. Dad reckoned the lamb looked supercilious - hardly meek - and I tend to agree. It's a good painting but. We also saw numerous interpretations of the crucifixion in the crypt, where they had a art exhib. It's all about the culture.

Speaking of culture, the Greek place down the road is bloody good.

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