Tour of Flanders 2011 sportive done! Part 1- drama before the start

Posted: April 14, 2011 by mickflanders in Cycling, Flanders

 It’s now been over a week since Team Has Bean has returned from Belgium. As conquerors of the RvV, we were expecting much fanfare and celebration from the free world, but alas we have all returned to our day jobs without much fuss. The feet are now back under the desk and we are now left with some amazing memories that will no doubt be retold again and again. But was it a case of turn up, ride and go home? Most certainly not. Chris has now given you a taster of our time away, but there is a bit more to it than can fit in one blog. There was pre-event dramas, mid-event melodramas and post-event elation (but also some dramas there too).

So to start back at London St Pancras Eurostar terminal: Dan + him support crew arrive in good time for their train to Brussels only to discover their train had long since departed. Next time CHECK THE TIME ON THE TICKET. Luckily DJ is a good talker and was able to talk his way on to the next train out! For the rest of us, it was a bit of a  smoother transit. I met up with our super lead out man Jules at London and then Rob hopped on same train at Ebbsfleet. Rob’s arrival brought collective sighs as previous pick-ups with him have been somewhat challenging (confusion between Luton train station and Luton Parkway train station being the most memorable). Chris meanwhile had settled in to his overnight Ferry and arrived with support crew first thing in the morning and was ready to roll by the time we all arrived. He was ready to roll, pity about me…

As assembling of bikes got under way, I had a moment of dread- everything was put together OK- except for the seat! I couldn’t find my seat post clamp. One small ring of aluminium was threatening to end my ride long before it even began. We headed off in search of a bike shop but could only find a bike hire.  Luckily the owners English was better than our French/Flemish. He said that my seat tube size was a bit larger than all of his bikes but he brought out a handful of clamps to try. No luck, they were all too small. He then vanished and returned with one more… which fitted by Cinderella’s slipper- big cheer from the team as I was back in the game. All that was left now was to head out for a big meal and to wait for our kit to arrive.

Our kit was still noticeably absent -it was due to arrive in time for the Burgess Hill team ride 3 weeks earlier and it was starting to look like Team Has Bean would be either riding nude, or in individual club kit. Luckily, while at out eating, it arrived- it certainly had us looking to part. Cue another collective sigh from the fairer sex in the support crew. Bioracer produced some great quality for us and we were all now fully set to ride.

So, early start at 550AM to a) pack the car, b) eat brekkie, c) have a coffee and then roll the 300m into town to sign on at 7AM. Well that was the plan. Coffee and breakfast went fine, but our assessment of the volume of kit to fit in one small car was grossly out. Several attempts were made but in the end, we had to either jettison the bike boxes to be collected later, or leave young Thomas (11 months old) behind. So the bike bags stayed and Thomas kept his seat in the car. This put us a behind time and as we finally started to get kitted up, I slid my foot into my shoe only to find it blocked. 1 x seat post clamp stored for safety! Good grief! Come 730 we were out the door and found ourselves literally at the back of a massive queue to sign on. 8AM came and we were still at the back and not much closer to the front. Our last team ride in Burgess Hill catered for 800 riders with a sign on system that had no less than 20 staff working, all with laptops and well organised ticketing systems. Here, 25,000 sportive riders had 3 people working the desk trying to find rider packs amongst 3 large boxes. There was some speculation that this was on purpose to help spread the riders out, but it meant that we had more time to get nervous -we were at the back of the pack even before setting off!

8:15 rolls around and at last we were off on our adventure that would take us through some of the flattest (but windiest) roads, some of the steepest hills, and some of the most iconic cobbled climbs the world has to offer. That’s all for pre-event drama. Certainly enough for one day, but there surprises and challenges to come- and it would come exactly where expected- cobbles! See next post for all the ride action.

  1. Stuart says:

    Nice site. Met one of you on the Lincolnshire Cross audax over the weekend. The kit’s very nice, shame I can’t add a top onto this week’s coffee order (hint to the Has Bean management :)).


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