Thursday, 10 June 2010
Travels and travails in Roubaix
Gary is a 'Belgian' through and through. OK so he seems to sport a bewildering array of 'other' jerseys, eschewing the classic monochrome look for the most part, but we will forgive him for that - he's one of our own at heart.
I had the privilege of riding the Flanders sportive 2 years ago with Gary (far left) - he's one of those lithe, lean effortless type riders packing a climber's genetics and the technique to match. He dropped me on every climb and rode the hardest cobbles with style and grace when all around were losing theirs. If they had any to start with. Impressive stuff.
Come to think of it, that Flanders trip was a proto Belgians affair really, with Winkie making up the trio, and all now signed up Belgians members.
Gary went off to complete his double of Classics monuments last weekend with possibly the hardest one day ride on the globe for amateurs - the Paris Roubaix Sportive.
Here are some of his random recollections, preceeded by the text I got on Sunday night after he finished:
Oh. My. God. Words can't describe how hard that was. Torrential rain, blazing sun, had it all.
- Seeing Rob's quick release open after a particularly bad section of pave. Scary.
- Riding all of 100 yards on Saturday and wondering whether I'd be able to finish that section never mind the whole thing.
- The detritus of bottles, tubes, pumps at the start of the Inchy pave.
- Researching who Jean Stablinski was/is.
- Looking back at the Arenberg trench and getting shivers down my spine. That was mainly the cold, but it was exciting too.
- Seriously considering the possibilities of dying in the thunder and lightning in a northern French industrial estate.
- Thinking that the pave couldn't get any worse and then hitting the l'Arbre section and almost ceasing any forward motion.
- That moment of turning into the velodrome and onto the track... was possibly the greatest cycling moment I've ever experienced. The only slight scare was when I went way high on the track and for one second thought I might go skidding down the banking after hitting one of those ads.
I didn't. It was f*cking ace.
The use of the big ring and an inscrutable expression riding through the chaos of the Arenberg have been duly noted. Chapeau. We shall call you Flahute. Like it says on our new jerseys. I think.