This morning saw the second day of the yearly 'Kom Op tegen Kanker' challenge, where the aim is that teams bring in 5000EUR for the battle against cancer. This buys a 4 day stint of 250km a day, to be ridden by maximum 8 persons.
Today was my day. I was to ride the second leg in this years' challenge, a 250K trip between Mechelen and Geel, and back to Mechelen again. I was a bit weary because the last couple of months were full of lower back problems and I was not sure how my lower back would cope with a 250K ride. The weather forecast was calling for dry weather, some clouds in the morning and the sun coming through after noon. I decided on wearing a couple of extra layers in the form of my Assos windbreaker and a light Moots shell. Leaving at 7.40AM it was still rather fresh but by the time we reached the first rest stop, some 2 hours into the ride, the first layer was finding its way into my back pack. At noon, when we arrived in Geel for our lunch stop, the Assos would also be packed and tucked into my shirt. I decided to keep the armlings because I didn't have any suntan with me and the sun was burning . Did not want to risk a sunburn.
The arrival in Geel was a memorable one. Long queues of people along the roads, all making a lot of noise with bells and screaming their lungs out in support. Wall of sound. Impressive !
During lunch I was able to hook up with other riders of the various KBC-b.strong teams. Some were riding the 1000K solo, which is quite an amazing feat. Me , I was part of a 4-person team, each taking 1 days and 250K in his or her stride.
My lower back in the meantime was coping very well. I had taken some paracetomol to make sure any pain would be dulled but I could not feeling anything untoward. I had to get used to riding in a big peloton again, where you need to stay in the front half, lest you want to sprint after each and every corner to join the pack again. The pace is more even, the closer you are to the front of the bunch. Lessons quickly learned. The bunch was moving at an average pace of 28kph. Police and motorcyclist were closing of every crossroads so the bunch could move without having to stop or even slow down. Like a real peloton in a race. It was a great experience to ride like this. talking to other cyclists along the way, each with his own reason to join a ride in the battle against cancer.
The lunch was a moment to join the other b.strong teams and share our experiences. Some of them would ride the complete 1000K over the 4 days, me I was more than happy to do only one leg of 250K. In the afternoon, we got back on our bikes for the ride back to Mechelen. The shoulder and neck muscles began to tyre and my legs weren't as fresh as half a day ago, but in all I was feeling OK. The lower back did not give any signals of distress. The sun was out now but there was also a bit of wind blowing from the north. We were looping towards the north and it was good to be in the peloton. The rest stop after 2 hours into the ride was a welcome relief. We were now moving towards the southwest and the wind was no longer a factor. The bunch was getting more restless but nothing the road captains couldn't handle. No flat tyres this year so I was happy about that. The arrival in Mechelen was a big party. Lots of people cheering us on and the market place was filled to the brim with enthousiastic people. Supporters and family.
Ride Stats : 251.5K and 400 heightmeters (Garmin) in 09h03mins