Formed in June 09, Here Come the Belgians is a non-elite anti-team celebrating all things cross, cobbled and Belgian.
Seeking a different experience to the traditional cycling club, its aim is to harness the energy of a vibrant internet cycling community with grass roots racing and riding based around Cyclocross and Spring Classics. There is no race programme in the style of a racing team, more a collection of individual experiences through rides and racing, in whatever location a member may be, that all can share in and contribute toward.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Here comes the Belgian training camp: London

You know: After the race is before the race!
So what would be a good place for a real hard training camp?
Right, it is London - a city known for such things as
tilting towers or hidden Norman Forster eggs:

But there is more to London. It is a place with 20.000 people with a licence to kill! The untrained eye might get the impression of a harmless cab, but this can be turned into a deadly weapon and explaines the warning in the first picture.
Just kidding! Apart from a few most cab drivers were doing fine in sharing the bus line. Better watch out for those soon to be drivers on their scooters, learning the streets or those pre-hire taxis.

No, no this is not a Rijs style survival camp, at least the hotel is very decent, although only four stars. So I waited five minutes outside the hotel with my bike in one hand and the keys in the other and nobody come to park my cycle!

Actually it turned out there is no special bike parking, imagine the friends of Boris would come to this hotel. So best option was to store the cycle in the room. Some news paper to prevent marks from the bar tape on the wall paint. (Of course most of the newspaper ended up in the shoes to extract the wet). Outside parking was not that easy but I found a nice parking place at Victoria docks at a crane. Just 10 miles off the city centre.

I should not complain about too much about the hotel, they provide a very nice breakfast buffet, lots of fresh fruits on the healthy right side and full blown english breakfast less healthy on the left. My favourite: combine the waffles from the left with yoghurt and red fruits from the right.
To make sure the breakfast is well mixed I rode from Carnary wharf to Wapping, pave can be found on Wapping Wall and Wapping High St. (pictured). Problem is not to hit the speed bumps, apart from those difficulties 1.5 stars. After passing the park on your left follow Thomas More St., turn left into East Smithfield for City and Tower bridge. (Non-belgians can simply take the pave-free CS 3 to reach the same location .) From there to the west simple race along the Thames to the Big Ben, pick a tourist bus for wind protection. (Non-belgians could cross the river via Tower Bridge turn right into Tooley street, which feels like a bus only street. Carefully pass London Dungeon and London Bridge, watch out for monsters or pedestrians. Turn left at the end and stop at Borough market for energy refill. Follow Southwark st./Stamford st for London Imax, into York Rd. for Westminster Bridge. Although shorter in distance for sure slower than the race along the Thames. But could be an option to extent CS 3 to the west.)

To add some culture I went to Tate, which was closed. Next try in fine arts, I turned north to Islington or more exact Angel for Paul A. Young, like a good museum on the continent closed on Mondays:

Real Belgians always check on the chocolade if they come to a different town. Best brownies in town, three quid will get you a lot of taste and only 25% of the calories the same amount of money would get you at Borough market invested in Brownies.

Please note: in London money is not spend it is invested! You know this city is about business. I was so bloody close to a fine sponsor deal with a company from Springfield. Just that moment Duncan said, that we'll not sell out to an investor. Look what I could have had as team car:

Not a Mondeo labelled as a Jaguar, no a real fine car. But so no Porsche, all I got was a 30% discount on a jersey from what could have been our sponsor:

Talking of investments I came across these Burglers cycle shame stands:

Don't love it to get stuck behind a bus which is stuck behind one of these bicycles on Tower Bridge? I got the impression many were used by tourists. With a race bike it is quite nice to draft in the bus lane at around 20 mphs floating works quite nice, these bikes will not get you there. The risk is that car drivers might get used to these slow moving objects not being aware of regular speed cyclists. Of course one person decided to put the bikes to selfish use without dropping a drip of sweat:

It is too soon to comment on the success of the cycle related actions. Unlike the old cycle path the CS routes are easier to follow although in Canary Wharf east they saved blue paint by just painted small blue 10*10 inches squares. Never the less compared to the old bike paths like 1 or 4 is for sure an improvement, saving a lot of time wasted on searching. From Thamse barrier to Greenwich on the old system was enough to make me happily use the bus lane from Greenwich to the Tower bridge. The alternative is to walk through the tunnel to the Isle of Dogs, use Westferry Road to connect to CS 3.

So wait and see, hoping the cycle actions will not end in a dead end:

1 comment:

  1. If you come to Otley, we will introduce you to our local chocolatier, Trevor! And we have pave - the market square has been beautifully repaved by the nice council - the only problem is that you'd have to ride very small circuits because it really is square!