| Tales from the Woods
|Rando de l'Athenee at Wavre
already done quite a bit of [mountain]biking this year - and some
wonderful trails as well I might add - but today was my first organised
ride of 2007. Wavre is some 20k away from my home so instead of adding
to the global warming I took my bike over there, which added to my global warmup .
Upon arriving I left my bike at the guarded bike-park - I was the only
one in the lot, but then again, most folks arrive in groups and can
leave one of them to guard the bikes, a luxury I don't have - and the
mademoiselle gave me a card with a number (8) corresponding to a
numbered card she attached to my bike. I normally won't let people
touch my bikes but I gladly make exceptions for pretty mademoisselles..
Oh, right, there were a few people I was supposed to meet at the
start but some of them had already set off, and another one was going
to do the 25K with her boyfriend (who is badly out of shape ) and told me I shouldn't wait for her.
So I didn't. I went
to the inscription, ticked the 65K distance on the form - there were
also 15, 25, 35 and 50K distances on offer - forked over 4 Euro to another mademoisselle , got my bike back from the bike-park - merci ma belle - and I was
on my way. Oh wait, first I needed to attach a little card with the emergency numbers to my bike. Good thing these cards , you never know whats going to happen.
The Ride:The first few K were meandering through the city but then we
got into a park where the first offroad stretch was greeting my 1.8 Schwalbe "Nobby Nic"
tyres. I chose these because of the heavy rainfall we had last friday.
I would normally not consider such narrow tyres on a ride this long and
I have to say, near the end my back was protesting the lack of comfort
they offered . But considering the condition of the track, the choice proved to be a
wise one. The trails were rather dry to start with. The loop went more
or less anti-clockwise around Wavre. First we went toward Chaumont
Gistoux and Grez-Doiceau, where a lot of the trails were very familiar
to me. But still the trailbuilders managed to find some nice solutions
to include some seldom used singletrails. I particularly enjoyed the
trail next to the river Train, until the trail changed into a big
mudhole that was. Foot on the ground and a few quick jumps brought me
through the worse of it, back on the bike and the Nobby Nics found some
grip to get me out of there - fast. The arrowing was rather sparse but more
than sufficient. Although there was also the option to have your time
clocked - a brevet this is called - on the 65K and I suppose if you really went fast you might miss
some turns due to the arrowing being sparse.
But I only missed one - on a familiar track I must add -
where they chose another option to loop out of than the one I usually take.. my bad . I quickly noticed I
was wrong ( no more arrows ! ) and got back to the fork where I last saw
an arrow. After some 20K I got to the first rest stop. This was stocked
with food - dried fruit, cake , bananas and more cake - and water. Also some mint-flavored sports-drink which didn't
invite to get a second glass. Sober but sufficient I would say. And who
can complain when you get 3 reststops for 4 Euro, right?
The trail then
ondulated toward Dion Valmont and further to the Bois de Laurensart.
Here they added an extra loop for the 65K which took us on a screaming fast
downhill and straight into our first *big* mudhole.. *Aaargh*. Those who know me know
that I don't particularly like mud. The only people really liking mud might be the bikeshops, they get to change all the worn-out bikeparts. But I managed to get myself and my
bike through the puddles unscathed. Experience is a good thing in these
matters. Instead of burying yourself in the mud trying to go AROUND the
puddles, just go STRAIGHT THROUGH them. The ground is harder IN the
puddles, and the water will clean your tyres and bike, rather than clog
it up with mud. I saw some lesser experienced guys burying themselves
quite successfully in the sucking mud.. their agonizing screams left me
to pedal away with a smile on my face. Yeah, I'm bad.
Getting to the second rest stop now, planted in a field in Ottenburg. I tried
checking how long we had to go (I had 41K on my counters) but the girls
manning ( lovely play of words don't you think?) the rest stop were not 'in the know' of such arcane things. So
I figured it must still be 25K and moved on. Food and drink here were the same as on the first stop. Nothing fancy but sufficient. The trail now came very
close to Wavre again but luckily another loop (or 3 ) was awaiting the
long-distance riders'. First we got a fine loop going towards
Rosieres, with a hollow road drop in a forest towards Tombeek to follow. Albeit another
mudhole awaited us at the bottom of said drop. Oh well, let's get dirty
- it's fun. Another climb followed taking us in reverse direction of a marked route (BLOSO Overijse ) and back towards Wavre.
I began to feel the accumulation of K's in my legs and
riding alone - I only seemed to be passing bikers at the rest stops and only 2 or 3 passed me - gave me the impression to be on some trail exploration
. I love the solitude of the longest distance on an organized ride. Most people seem to settle for the middle distances , 35/50K on this ride . I was just
thinking of adding an extra stop to absorb a powerbar when the third
reststop announced itself. So I ate it there, or rather I queezed it out of its wrapper. It had slightly begun to
rain now, and the trails became covered with a wet sheen which rendered
them a bit more tricky than they already were. Every now and then some cobbles were thrown at us, and you know how tricky wet cobbles can be. Alertness was required. Some 10K to go, and some fine trails were awaiting us yet. Looping towards Rixensart we came to
a nice rollercoaster MX-type track. Only thing was, it was a loop and I
nearly did it twice before I realized I better get off it if I was to
regain Wavre anytime soon. Wait, I see an arrow pointing AWAY from the
loop, OK thats it, lets go. Up until now, the bifurcations had been
very well signposted, but this MX track needed another arrow or perhaps
a plaque explaining it was a loop and where to get off of it. The last
few K's were pretty tough, some very steep climbs and a nasty downhill in a
wet field - incorporating a gully that did not seem ride-able to me. Those with tired muscles and lack of concentration better
beware. There was a plaque marked 'Danger' though so I don't think a lot of bikers were surprised by it.
What I liked :
- arrowing was sparse but sufficient
- signposters at traffic junctions and crossroads
- dangerous downhills were marked
- guarded bike-park at the start
- 3 rest stops, sufficiently stocked with food and drinks .
- rest stops well divided over the ride (20K - 40K - 55K on 65K)
- some nice trails included and some surprises as well
- every biker got a card with emergency numbers
What I did not like:
- arrowing too sparse for chrono-riders
- no controls for chrono riders and stop/start procedure of chrono was archaic
- confusing trails at the MX track
- tough bit at the end might throw tired bikers off.
I can't comment on showers and/or bikewash facilities since I did not use these.
Synopsis:A good ride, well organised with attention to detail and some very nice tracks. Arrowing and rest stops were sufficient . The chrono was their first one and it showed. If they want to do this again they need more signage and a better way to time the riders. Also, some control points along the ride to discourage cheaters. There were signposts indicating dangerous spots and at most road crossings signposters stopped the traffic for us. Never forget to say 'Thank you' they are sacrificing THEIR sunday for you! Bifurcations between the distances were well marked and not easily missed. Emergency cards and guarded bike-park are welcome extras. Pricing was more than fair. The Bare Facts : 68K and 1000 heightmeters (Hill Factor 14.7)More Info:
Ride's Profile : CLICKMap of the ride : CLICKRide Stats : 106K and 1325 heightmeters in 5h43mins
20-05-2007, 21:30 geschreven door Big Bad Wolf
|Evy Van Damme retires
|When browsing on the web, I came upon this sad news : Evy Van Damme, wife of Cofidis Pro Nick Nuyens but foremost one of our countries' leading ladies in the road racing circuit for the past decade , has announced her retirement.
Check the story at Cyclingnews.com and at Nick Nuyens website . The news is also mentioned at Cycling FX Cyclingladies but the other media have yet to catch up with it, it seems.
Well, sad news at least for all of us, who admire her for her sportswomanship , her achievements and yes, because she is one pretty lady as well.
For her it looks like a relief, to be able to close this part of her life and get on with another - maybe more important - part, that of being a fulltime wife and - hopefully - mother.
In an interview she accorded "Het Laatste Nieuws" , she states that she is stopping in her prime - at 27 years old her best years may lay ahead of her - because she couldn't bring up the continuing training , suffering and bereavements it takes to remain on top of her sport. Furthermore , the interview to me also expresses that she is disappointed in the lacking amount of quality time and attention the Women are getting for their sport. This to me has been obvious for some time now. The Mens' races are all that matters, the Womens' just seem to be almost a fait-divers at times, not only in Belgium but also on the International level. The struggle to make people realize that the Women also deserve the same kind of attention - let alone the same time of recognition - is an ongoing one and I fear it is a struggle against windmills. That may sound bitter I know .
I haven't found an online version of this interview, but I'm looking. On the website of Het Laatste Nieuws there has been no mention of it - yet.
As most of you will know , I love to follow Womens' racing , as a photographer but also as someone who is continuously impressed by the power, grace, grit and tenacity of the competitors in this difficult and demanding sport. I follow the Womens' Mountainbike XC racing which seems to earn a bigger level of attention amongst it male counterparts as the Women in road racing, indoor racing or cyclocross seem to get.
But beware, mountainbiking in itself is a very small sport - so lets not get overexited here. I understand that from a sponsors point of view, the "big names" in the Mens' circus attract a lot more of attention - thus money - but at least in mountainbiking the Women are treated more and more equally to the Men . On the World Cup series , their race has been appreciated from a Saturday event to a Sunday event. The Women now have their race at 11am just before the Mens' , thus allowing lots more people to view - and get excited about - the racing. A good thing sure enough. Also, they race for the full 2 hours - as the men do.
Still, things are evolving in other aspects of bicycle racing as well and I am always grateful when mention of the Women is made during the coverage of , say , The Giro or the Tour the France. I wonder how many people know that there is also a Giro for Women, or Tour de France for that matter ? Many people are striving to give the Women what they deserve - fair and equal treatment in all aspects of life - and this includes sports . A big thanks must go to the teams, sponsors and media that make it their daily job to make this possible and to further its development. And of course to all the athletes themselves, who bring us the excitement of the races.
At least in her retirement interview Evy got one full page in Belgiums' leading newspaper.
Thanks for everything you brought to Womens' Cycling in Belgium , Evy and I wish you a very happy and fruitful life. Bedankt voor alles Evy en moge het je goed gaan in de rest van je leven.
Evy Van Damme pic copyrighted http://www.snakeonline.be/
19-05-2007, 18:00 geschreven door Big Bad Wolf
|Easy ride this evening, started after the Giro stage ended. Cold wind blowing and I took it easy but still managed a good first hour, due to the wind blowing from behind most of the time. I kept it on the big ring on most of the climbs to work a little on my strength . The Polar transmitter got a new battery but when I checked the heart rate profile I noticed it still had some weird numbers during the first part of the ride. I will get a new Wearlink next friday and be done with it. Upon finishing I had to pass at the bakery to get a bread. Tomorrow is a holiday and I forgot to get one when I got home from work.
Ride Stats : 41K and 290 heightmeters in 1h43
16-05-2007, 20:39 geschreven door Big Bad Wolf
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