A Ride Through Flanders
Every now and then you strike a riding day that stands out as being one of those special ones. I’ve ridden thousands of times but today will be one of the handful of truly memorable rides of my cycling life.
The day started by making a trip to the GreenEDGE hotel and having a chat with the mechanics and Matty White who were very generous with their time. It was about 10am and Stuey O’Grady was the only one up and having breakfast (I assume he just got back from a big night out). We’re told that Langeveld is in good hands and is currently seeing the best collarbone specialist in Belgium (we was going 83km/hr when he crashed). Gossy is stick and four others are at the Track World Championships, so they’re running low on men. The rest of the squad is racing in Spain at Vuelta Pais Vasco and Circuit de la Sarthe. The Classics team here will be racing Scheldeprijs on Wednesday (which we’ll be watching) and Paris Roubaix on Sunday. After that, the squad racing Pais Vasco will come to Belgium and race the Ardennes.
We then headed over to the Tour of Flanders Centre in Oudenaarde which plunges you into the atmosphere and history of the famous race. There was some interesting artefacts and interactive media presented there which made you understand what an integral part of the Belgian culture this race really is. Among many interesting things here are a couple of my favorites:
What is a Flandrien?
In the brochure at the museum it’s explained that the nickname “Flandrien” was typical for the Flemish track cyclists who were showmen for the crown at the Six-day races in the 1910’s and 20’s. When the Flandriens took the boat to America to compete in the velodromes of New York and Chicago they were announced as “blokes who eat raw meat”. The characteristics of a Flandrien are:
Why A Male Racer Will Always Beat A Female Racer:
Stamina: Men have more stamina due to a lower fat percentage and more haemoglobin in the blood.
Fat Percentage: Male racers aim for a body fat percentage between 4 and 10%. Female racers possess between 13-17%.
Pulsatory volume: Men can pump ~200ml per heart beat, women 150ml per heart beat.
Oxygen: There is 10% more haemoglobin in the male blood. Men have thus better oxygen transport.
Drag: Women have more curves: wider pelvis, and bosom. So they catch more wind.
Menstruation: Blood loss can limit the oxygen transport. It may also cause touchiness and tiredness.
Muscles: More testosterone means more muscles, so more power. Men can produce 1200 watts during a sprint, women only half as much.
I have no idea how much of that is fact, but I did find some of it hilarious that they took the time to make an exhibition out of this.
After taking some time in the museum and having lunch in their sensational pub we were met with former Belgian national champion and Tour de France stage winner Serge Baguet. He took us around his old training grounds on the cobbled back roads of Flanders. The sun came out and it was a spectacular day riding up the Koppenberg and the Muur (which was sadly taken out of the parcours this year). If you’re a cyclist, riding up the Muur is almost a religious experience.
Tomorrow we head to Ieper, visit the Tyne Cot Cemetery and ride the interesting parts of the Gent Wevelgem course including the Kemmelberg.
A few photos from today…