FLANDERS TO LDN
On Tuesday 31st we traveled over to Belgium to begin our journey, three classics in two days; Gent Wevelgem, Ronde Van Vlaanderen and finally the Rouleur Classic, led by the Lion of Flanders himself - Johan Museeuw.
We met Museeuw in Ypres for dinner, we enjoyed bowls of spaghetti and got to know one another. This journey was about more than cycling, it was about Flemish culture and history, Museeuw took us to the 'Last Post' - a 90-year-old ceremony held at the Menin Gate memorial to pay respects to the fallen soldiers of WWI, this year held particular significance and it marked 100 years since the Third Battle of Ypres.
The ceremony hit hard despite being many generations removed from the war, seeing my family name among the lists was emotional, this was an important aspect of our journey, riding the route of war-torn Gent Wevelgem would give me time to reflect in silence as we roll past the memorials in Plugstreet, Messines Ridge, and Flanders Fields.
As road captain, Museeuw guided us smoothly through the route of Gent Wevelgem and joined us seamlessly onto the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders ) - this is my absolute favorite race, Museeuw has won it three times, this pretty much makes him a god in my eyes. One of my favorite moments of cycling history was Museeuw scaling the Kappelmuur in the 1998 edition of RVV its truly inspiring display of power and panache, his effortless style and iconic silhouette on the bike haven't diminished one bit... it seems that cycling is the secret to eternal youth.
favourite race, Museeuw has won it three times, this pretty much makes him a god in my eyes. One of my favourite moments of cycling history was Museeuw scaling the Kappelmuur in the 1998 edition of RVV its truly inspiring display of power and panache, his effortless style and iconic silhouette on the bike haven't diminished one bit... it seems that cycling is the secret to eternal youth.
When you meet exceptional people like Museeuw, you have to ask yourself "what can I learn from them?" Its a brilliant opportunity for self-improvement, just to sit back and observe - with Johan I think his mind is his sharpest tool, an unbreakable fortress his head is stronger than his rivals, I guess that's why he is the Lion - a true Flandrien, this is what I'll take away with me.
The ride was made easier with the support of our kit suppliers, POC kitted us out in their new AVIP range, designed to perform and be seen on the road, it does both, the second perhaps a little too much ;) My favourite piece was the sunglasses, I don't usually ride with them (apparently a sin?), I save my classic Persols for the Cafe stops and particularly sunny coffee /recovery rides, but the POCs felt light and had full vision, I forgot that I was wearing them.
Specialized bikes hooked us up with the #NewTarmac with Roval 50mm wheels and Dura-Ace Di2 - to be clear... I'm not exaggerating when I make this point, It took me 20km before I even realised I was riding a bike, it was so light, smooth and racy that I was completely operating in autopilot when we set off... Modern race bikes aren't really my cup of tea, my favorite bike is the Colnago C40 a fossil in comparison - but a bike that weighs a mere 6.6kg was nearly enough to convert me! The shifting of the Di2 was pretty smooth and I felt the performance benefit, but I'm a loyal creature and prefer the Campy clunk and aesthetic of the Italians.
We got the train over to London on Thursday morning for the Rouleur Classic, on arrival you could sense the class and prestige of the event, the best cyclists and influential people in cycling culture and industry had gathered under one ornate roof, a sea of bike porn, history, inspiration, and knowledge were at our disposal, the highlight of the show had to be the Flanders gallery hosted by @CyclinginFlanders It was a fantastic collection of 100 years of RVV history, jerseys, bikes (including Museeuw's RVV winning C40) cobble stones marked with winners names, collectables, and trinkets.
The whole Rouleur Flanders Monumental Ride was a fantastic experience, I met and rode with some great people and hopefully made some friends for life.