Ronde van Vlaanderen sportive 2011

Posted: April 7, 2011 by drchrispower in Uncategorized

How to sum up an absolutely epic Team Has Bean weekend in a short blog post? I’ll try.

Last weekend saw the culmination of 4 months of winter riding, suffering on turbo trainers in front of The Sufferfest and worrying about the daunting 260km of riding ahead.  Because last weekend the waiting was over, and we could train no more.  The Tour of Flanders was upon us.

The various Team Has Bean members made their way to Brugge on Friday, and come 5pm, the team kit had yet to arrive!  To much consternation all round, the team headed out for some last minute carbo-loading in town.  Thankfully, whilst out munching on chicken and frites, the support team got in contact to say that the marvellous guys at Bioracer had come up with the goods.  Talk about ‘just in time’ delivery!  A massive thanks to Ken and Chris from Onimpex and all at Bioracer for pulling out the stocks to get the kit to us.  It is much appreciated, and the kit looked fantastic.


Team Has Bean Kit

The Bioracer Team Has Bean kit

After a relatively early night (for most of the team), it was up early on saturday to prep for the ride.  Cramming in food, and blasting down a few Has Bean coffees from the Aeropress.  You don’t want to be starting out on a ride of this magnitude without some great coffee in you.

After a bit of a delayed start, due to the long queues at sign on, Team Has Bean rolled out of Brugge, and set a blistering pace to get into some larger groups on the road.  A big thanks goes out here to our super-sub lead out man, big Jules, who propelled us up the road at breakneck speed, with us all hanging on for dear life behind.

After battling through the headwinds, we were soon onto the first section of pave. Not too bad, pretty much as I remembered it from last time I rode here.  But the second set of cobblestones, at Doorn, was altogether different – rough, broken, gapped and incredibly uneven.  As we bounced along at the highest speed we could, I found myself wondering if I’d get through the day!

Dan and Chris

Dan and Chris at the first feed

At bit further on, we were into the first climbs, and all was pretty easy, as they weren’t too challenging.  The first real challenges were the Kruisberg, the Knokteberg and then the Oude Kwaremont, a cobbled 2.2km climb, followed by an un-relenting section of cobbles off the top.  Along the way, a the section of cobbles at Padestraat claimed their first Team Has Bean victim, when Mick took a spill after hitting some gravel at the end of a drainage gutter, that offered some respite from the juddering. Luckily, damage was relatively minor, but a hole was ripped in the new kit!

Next climb up was the Paterberg, a nasty little customer that will forever be known as ‘Dan’s Hill’, for it was there that Dan launched a blistering attack that saw him crest the hill slightly before Mick!  We will never hear the end of it..

Next up, my personal bete noir, the heart of the challenge that I failed on last time, the dreaded Koppenberg.  To the unitiated, the Koppenberg is just 600m of steep climbing in the Belgian countryside.  To a cycling fan, it is a mecca, a place where the pros are regularly brought down to the level of mere mortals and forced to walk.  It may only be 600m long, but it is roughly cobbled, narrow, and rears up to a frightening 22% at one point.  For the kilometres leading to the Kop, I had butterflies in my stomach, but as we turned the corner to see it rearing up in front of us, I felt a sense of calm.  It was relatively clear of riders – I had a chance to get up it clean.  After much puffing, grovelling and grunting, I passed the steep sections and I’d made it.  Happy days!  Nearly everyone made it up from Team Has Bean, but the one bit of walking is no disgrace.  Many have failed and walked here.


Rob takes a breather after the Molenberg

Passed the Koppenberg the climbs keep coming and the pain starts to really accumulate. Steenbeekdries, Taaienberg, Eikenberg, Molenberg, Leberg (where Fabian Cancellara would attack the following day), Tenbosse and then onto the next big one, the next holy place of cycling – the Muur-Kapelmuur in Geraarsbergen.

Here I had a promise to keep in the glorious early evening sunlight.  I promised Rob that I’d get him over the Muur with me, and together we climbed up onto the hallowed cobbles and crossed by the chapel together.  Mick was on hand to get some great shots.  Good times!


Chris and Rob approach the top of the Muur

A quick few team promo shots for our sponsor on the top, and it was onward to the finish.  Last time, I flew up the final climb and it was a dash to the finish.  This time, the Bosberg was pergatory, and every part of me ached over the final cobbles, even though the maximum slope was a gentlish 11%.  And the final 10km to the finish?  To be honest I don’t really remember much, I was deep in the suitcase of woe, pulling out packet after packet of pain.

Team Has Bean on the Muur

But we got there.  4 average blokes, with a love of great coffee and riding their push bikes got round the route of a Spring Classic, the route ridden by the pros in a fantastic race that we watched the following day (to the accompaniment of several recovery drinks).

None of this would have been possible without the great support from several people, to whom thanks are due:

  • Steve at Has Bean: fuelled us with awesome coffee, helped with the kit and is the reason the Team exists!
  • Ken and Chris at Onimpex, out Bioracer kit suppliers: I know it was tough to get the kit to us in time, and we appreciate your efforts (coffee is in the post!)
  • Wives, girlfriends and kids: The biggest thank you.  Put up with many absent hours from us all whilst we rode and turbo’d, and supported us superbly in Flanders.

Thanks and love to you all.

Beer and Frites at the finish

  1. Darren Hague says:

    Chapeau, guys – really well done! 260km over that terrain – the mind just boggles. Just as well the Belgians are so good at making those recovery drinks.

    Now if we can only persuade Steve to make some Breakfast Bomb-based gels…

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