BiciSport in Flanders 2019

Paris Roubaix Report @ 14 April.   Watching PR live was one thing, but working on it took matters to another level. The three Mike’s agreed that MO’R would do the driving and both ML & MO’B would run the wheels and the bidons. The Delko Sports Director had given the BiciSport team something like six meeting points for the race. Technically we were   not   allowed to drive on the race course inside the race envelope (that was a big no no), so it was … cut across country driving like an idiot and get in front of the race for the next pass point. Shit, how does this work …  The start from Compiegne at 11.00am was simple enough, and up through Cambrai into deep rural France, first stop being the Quivey/Viesly cobbles (Sectors 28/25). The break of the day had already happened, so all good.  Second feeding stop was at the Maing cobbles, and that was where the driving got really interesting with numerous support teams all doing the same thing (driving with purpose and vigor, others may choose to call it speeding). Through the villages of St Python (no Monty there !), we blasted through Haussy in a heartbeat, and straight into Maing nice and early. Geez, that was fun and all a blur. By the time the bike race got to Maing the proverbial had hit the fan … the peloton was now in four groups, the hurt box wide open and doing a good trade. Brenton Jones had a mechanical problem and was in group four. The bike race looked like a grenade had gone off and we were a fair distance still to Wallers Arenberg.  Next stop on the PR magical mystery tour was supposed to be the Wallers Arenberg Forest, but … sorting out Brenton had meant a rethink as we were now way behind schedule. Going to Wallers was dropped and we headed to the Templeuve cobbles (Sector 8). Mike Lawson serviced the leading Delko rider, but then we were in a bind as to what to do now. Trouble was you couldn’t drive within the race envelope. What now ?.  We cut across country & hurtled (with purpose) down the A23 freeway towards Lille then decided to see if we could find the race one last time near Hem. Chances were zero at best.  Mike O’Brien is the Human Google Maps … with a short cut off the A23, through the industrial suburb of Fretlin (who knows where that is !), left, right, dirt road, left again. Somehow we popped out of a tiny rural side street straight into the PR race ! !. Crikey MO’B you’re a xxxxing genius. We’d gone from 10 minutes  behind  the leaders to 5 minutes  in front  & no idea how we just did it … nice job Mike O’Brien.  Crowds were huge waiting for the leaders and here we were in a rented VW van (with the all important accreditation sticker on the VW windscreen) and somehow in disbelief we’d landed in front of the Roubaix classic. Still smiling we parked up at the Hem cobbles (10k from the finish) and waited for Phil Gilbert to do the deed.  Thanks to Chris Jones for giving us the opportunity & the Delko Marseille team (and Brenton Jones) for being such inspiring individuals.  This is the last BiciSport in Flanders blog. Hope you enjoyed the ride.  Mike O’R

Paris Roubaix Report @ 14 April.

Watching PR live was one thing, but working on it took matters to another level. The three Mike’s agreed that MO’R would do the driving and both ML & MO’B would run the wheels and the bidons. The Delko Sports Director had given the BiciSport team something like six meeting points for the race. Technically we were not allowed to drive on the race course inside the race envelope (that was a big no no), so it was … cut across country driving like an idiot and get in front of the race for the next pass point. Shit, how does this work …

The start from Compiegne at 11.00am was simple enough, and up through Cambrai into deep rural France, first stop being the Quivey/Viesly cobbles (Sectors 28/25). The break of the day had already happened, so all good.

Second feeding stop was at the Maing cobbles, and that was where the driving got really interesting with numerous support teams all doing the same thing (driving with purpose and vigor, others may choose to call it speeding). Through the villages of St Python (no Monty there !), we blasted through Haussy in a heartbeat, and straight into Maing nice and early. Geez, that was fun and all a blur. By the time the bike race got to Maing the proverbial had hit the fan … the peloton was now in four groups, the hurt box wide open and doing a good trade. Brenton Jones had a mechanical problem and was in group four. The bike race looked like a grenade had gone off and we were a fair distance still to Wallers Arenberg.

Next stop on the PR magical mystery tour was supposed to be the Wallers Arenberg Forest, but … sorting out Brenton had meant a rethink as we were now way behind schedule. Going to Wallers was dropped and we headed to the Templeuve cobbles (Sector 8). Mike Lawson serviced the leading Delko rider, but then we were in a bind as to what to do now. Trouble was you couldn’t drive within the race envelope. What now ?.

We cut across country & hurtled (with purpose) down the A23 freeway towards Lille then decided to see if we could find the race one last time near Hem. Chances were zero at best.

Mike O’Brien is the Human Google Maps … with a short cut off the A23, through the industrial suburb of Fretlin (who knows where that is !), left, right, dirt road, left again. Somehow we popped out of a tiny rural side street straight into the PR race ! !. Crikey MO’B you’re a xxxxing genius. We’d gone from 10 minutes behind the leaders to 5 minutes in front & no idea how we just did it … nice job Mike O’Brien.

Crowds were huge waiting for the leaders and here we were in a rented VW van (with the all important accreditation sticker on the VW windscreen) and somehow in disbelief we’d landed in front of the Roubaix classic. Still smiling we parked up at the Hem cobbles (10k from the finish) and waited for Phil Gilbert to do the deed.

Thanks to Chris Jones for giving us the opportunity & the Delko Marseille team (and Brenton Jones) for being such inspiring individuals.

This is the last BiciSport in Flanders blog. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Mike O’R

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April -  Peter Sagan on the way to the Compiegne start. Photo MOR

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April - Peter Sagan on the way to the Compiegne start. Photo MOR

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April  - Quivey Feed Zone (Zone 26) for the breakaway of the day. Photo MOR.

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April - Quivey Feed Zone (Zone 26) for the breakaway of the day. Photo MOR.

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April  - Brenton Jones having a mechanical that ruined his day

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April - Brenton Jones having a mechanical that ruined his day

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April  - Just after the Maing cobbles with a shredded main peloton. Photo MOR

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April - Just after the Maing cobbles with a shredded main peloton. Photo MOR

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April  - Peter Sagan exits the Templeuve cobbles in the lead group. Photo MOR

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April - Peter Sagan exits the Templeuve cobbles in the lead group. Photo MOR

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April  - The Templeuve cobbles. Photo MOR

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April - The Templeuve cobbles. Photo MOR

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April  - Phil Gilbert heads for victory just after the Hem cobbles with 10k to the finish in the Roubaix Velodrome.. Photo MOR.

Paris Roubaix @ 14 April - Phil Gilbert heads for victory just after the Hem cobbles with 10k to the finish in the Roubaix Velodrome.. Photo MOR.

Delko Team @ 13 April -  Look team bikes prepared for Sunday. Photo MOR

Delko Team @ 13 April - Look team bikes prepared for Sunday. Photo MOR

Delko Team @ 13 April  - Inside the Delko mechanic’s cave. Photo MOR.

Delko Team @ 13 April - Inside the Delko mechanic’s cave. Photo MOR.

Delko Team @ 13 April -  All aboard the Delko team bus with Brenton Jones, Mike Lawson & Mike O’Brien. Photo MOR.

Delko Team @ 13 April - All aboard the Delko team bus with Brenton Jones, Mike Lawson & Mike O’Brien. Photo MOR.

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive @ 13 April  - Starting outside the Roubaix Velodrome with the temperature sitting on 0 degrees with Mike(s) Lawson, O’Brien & O’Reilly   Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive Ride Report @ 13 April   The weather was delightful with no rain, no wind and starting temperatures of 0 degrees (the day maxed out at 9 degrees). Yes, it was chilly but blue sky promised a great day.  The early kilometers were straightforward enough on flat & good bitumen roads. The first feed zone came after 40k and immediately afterwards it was cobble time. The story goes like this - Templeuve (you’re joking, it wasn’t even a road !), Cysiong (ok, not bad), Bourghelles (maybe not ok, but we got there), Camphin en Pevele (what is the French word for crap ?), Carrefour De L’Arbre (bad as advertised, but not as bad as remembered), Gruson (simple enough) & Hem (that was total shit, awful, you can’t be serious).  The final run into Roubaix from Hem carried more Saturday traffic than expected but the reward was the ceremonial lap around the classic Roubaix Velodrome. Do it all again in 2020 ? … in a heartbeat.

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive @ 13 April - Starting outside the Roubaix Velodrome with the temperature sitting on 0 degrees with Mike(s) Lawson, O’Brien & O’Reilly

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive Ride Report @ 13 April

The weather was delightful with no rain, no wind and starting temperatures of 0 degrees (the day maxed out at 9 degrees). Yes, it was chilly but blue sky promised a great day.

The early kilometers were straightforward enough on flat & good bitumen roads. The first feed zone came after 40k and immediately afterwards it was cobble time. The story goes like this - Templeuve (you’re joking, it wasn’t even a road !), Cysiong (ok, not bad), Bourghelles (maybe not ok, but we got there), Camphin en Pevele (what is the French word for crap ?), Carrefour De L’Arbre (bad as advertised, but not as bad as remembered), Gruson (simple enough) & Hem (that was total shit, awful, you can’t be serious).

The final run into Roubaix from Hem carried more Saturday traffic than expected but the reward was the ceremonial lap around the classic Roubaix Velodrome. Do it all again in 2020 ? … in a heartbeat.

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive @ 13 April  - Just before the start outside the Roubaix Velodrome. Photo MOR.

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive @ 13 April - Just before the start outside the Roubaix Velodrome. Photo MOR.

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive @ 13 April  - After the conclusion of the 70k PR Cyclosportive on the historic Roubaix Velodrome. The race finish line is in the background near the grandstand.

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive @ 13 April - After the conclusion of the 70k PR Cyclosportive on the historic Roubaix Velodrome. The race finish line is in the background near the grandstand.

Roubaix Cyclosportive Registration @ Roubaix Velodrome @ 12 April -  The Specialized promotional zone at the Roubaix Velodrome had the actual Peter Sagan winning bike (plus frame number) from 2018. Very very tidy. Photo MOR.

Roubaix Cyclosportive Registration @ Roubaix Velodrome @ 12 April - The Specialized promotional zone at the Roubaix Velodrome had the actual Peter Sagan winning bike (plus frame number) from 2018. Very very tidy. Photo MOR.

Roubaix Cyclosportive Registration @ Roubaix Velodrome @ 12 April -  Mike O’Brien at the Roubaix Velodrome

Roubaix Cyclosportive Registration @ Roubaix Velodrome @ 12 April - Mike O’Brien at the Roubaix Velodrome

Koppenberg Loop @ 11 April  - Koen Verhulst, Mike Lawson, Mike O’Brien & Eddy Verhulst started the ride at the Kokerelle B&B at Oudenaarde.   Koppenberg Loop Ride Report @ 11 April   An easy start to the day from Kokerelle, with a flat tailwind cycle down along the Schelde River cycle path for Koen, Eddy and 3 x Mikes towards Roubaix. Then a simple  turn left  into the Flemish bergs at Kluisbergen. First challenge was the Old Kwaremont cobbles, then shortly afterwards onto the Patersberg cobbles (where Mike O’R crashed on the steep cobbles - unhurt). Shortly afterwards it was the turn of the Koppenberg cobbles (where Eddy V crashed on the steep cobbles - unhurt). MO’R bailed out early going back into Oudenaarde (to get his damaged prescription glasses repaired). The others finished the cobbled merry go round via the Taainenberg, Berg Ten Houte, Eikenberg & Biogneberg climbs.

Koppenberg Loop @ 11 April - Koen Verhulst, Mike Lawson, Mike O’Brien & Eddy Verhulst started the ride at the Kokerelle B&B at Oudenaarde.

Koppenberg Loop Ride Report @ 11 April

An easy start to the day from Kokerelle, with a flat tailwind cycle down along the Schelde River cycle path for Koen, Eddy and 3 x Mikes towards Roubaix. Then a simple turn left into the Flemish bergs at Kluisbergen. First challenge was the Old Kwaremont cobbles, then shortly afterwards onto the Patersberg cobbles (where Mike O’R crashed on the steep cobbles - unhurt). Shortly afterwards it was the turn of the Koppenberg cobbles (where Eddy V crashed on the steep cobbles - unhurt). MO’R bailed out early going back into Oudenaarde (to get his damaged prescription glasses repaired). The others finished the cobbled merry go round via the Taainenberg, Berg Ten Houte, Eikenberg & Biogneberg climbs.

Koppenberg Loop @ 11 April  - The Schelde River cycle path riding towards Roubaix with Kluisbergen on the left of picture. Photo Mike O’Brien

Koppenberg Loop @ 11 April - The Schelde River cycle path riding towards Roubaix with Kluisbergen on the left of picture. Photo Mike O’Brien

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April  - The Team Quick Step photo exhibition was on the ground floor. The Quick Step presentation highlighted all of the QS Team members together with all notable victories from 2018 into early 2019. Photo MOR.   The Koers Cycling Museum  (www.koersmuseum.be) is the latest cycling museum to open in Flanders situated in the city of Roeselare in East Flanders. There are 3 levels of exhibitions, jersey & bike displays, video presentations, a John Pierre Monsere Memorial wall plus a well appointed cafe.

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April - The Team Quick Step photo exhibition was on the ground floor. The Quick Step presentation highlighted all of the QS Team members together with all notable victories from 2018 into early 2019. Photo MOR.

The Koers Cycling Museum (www.koersmuseum.be) is the latest cycling museum to open in Flanders situated in the city of Roeselare in East Flanders. There are 3 levels of exhibitions, jersey & bike displays, video presentations, a John Pierre Monsere Memorial wall plus a well appointed cafe.

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April  - Team Quick Step photo exhibition on the ground floor featured a 2019 QS team member involved in a major off. Photo MOR

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April - Team Quick Step photo exhibition on the ground floor featured a 2019 QS team member involved in a major off. Photo MOR

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April -  Jersey display room on Level 1 of the museum. Photo MOR.

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April - Jersey display room on Level 1 of the museum. Photo MOR.

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April -  Jersey display room on Level 1 of the museum. Photo MOR

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April - Jersey display room on Level 1 of the museum. Photo MOR

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April -  Jersey display room on Level 1 of the museum. Photo MOR

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April - Jersey display room on Level 1 of the museum. Photo MOR

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April -  The bike display was on Level 2 of the museum. The immediate level was for current public display whilst the bikes on the higher level are rotated down for display purposes at other times. Photo MOR.

Koers Cycling Museum @ Roeselare @ 9 April - The bike display was on Level 2 of the museum. The immediate level was for current public display whilst the bikes on the higher level are rotated down for display purposes at other times. Photo MOR.

Triosvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Mike O’Brien & Mike Lawson before the start in sleepy rural Troisvilles   Troisvilles Wallers Ride Report @ 8 April   The BiciSport group had previously ridden the cobbles from Wallers Arenberg towards the finish at the Roubaix Velodrome. Today it was agreed that we’d ride the earlier sections of cobbles from the sleepy village of Troisvilles and finish the ride at Wallers Arenberg. The Paris Roubaix route signs were now up, so it greatly reduced any chance of getting lost.  Troisvilles is deep in rural France &  sleepy  doesn’t do it justice. The Troisvilles cobbles (Sector 29) were simple enough, but things began to get increasingly difficult through Briastre/Viesly/Quively/Fontaine (Sectors 28, 27, 26, 25). The Michael Goolaerts Memorial in Sector 27 was very moving (Michael sadly died of a heart attack at the Paris Roubaix Classic in 2018).  The cobbled sections just kept on coming, and you began to loose sense of it all, they were all long and difficult … Escallion (Sector 24), Queranang (Sector 23), Maing cobbles (Sectors 22, 21) all a bit of a cobbled misery. Things turned a bit complicated at the Maing cobbles when MO’R got lost due to the roadworks blockage (see picture below) … the group lost each other and a few frantic mobile phone calls later led to a regrouping near the Wallers Arenberg cobbles (that was exciting !!). Getting lost in deepest, darkest northern France isn’t worth contemplating.  The day concluded with an inspection of the Wallers Arenberg cobbles. As Mike O’Brien nicely put it “ … they can’t be serious … “. Next Sunday they most definitely will be.

Triosvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Mike O’Brien & Mike Lawson before the start in sleepy rural Troisvilles

Troisvilles Wallers Ride Report @ 8 April

The BiciSport group had previously ridden the cobbles from Wallers Arenberg towards the finish at the Roubaix Velodrome. Today it was agreed that we’d ride the earlier sections of cobbles from the sleepy village of Troisvilles and finish the ride at Wallers Arenberg. The Paris Roubaix route signs were now up, so it greatly reduced any chance of getting lost.

Troisvilles is deep in rural France & sleepy doesn’t do it justice. The Troisvilles cobbles (Sector 29) were simple enough, but things began to get increasingly difficult through Briastre/Viesly/Quively/Fontaine (Sectors 28, 27, 26, 25). The Michael Goolaerts Memorial in Sector 27 was very moving (Michael sadly died of a heart attack at the Paris Roubaix Classic in 2018).

The cobbled sections just kept on coming, and you began to loose sense of it all, they were all long and difficult … Escallion (Sector 24), Queranang (Sector 23), Maing cobbles (Sectors 22, 21) all a bit of a cobbled misery. Things turned a bit complicated at the Maing cobbles when MO’R got lost due to the roadworks blockage (see picture below) … the group lost each other and a few frantic mobile phone calls later led to a regrouping near the Wallers Arenberg cobbles (that was exciting !!). Getting lost in deepest, darkest northern France isn’t worth contemplating.

The day concluded with an inspection of the Wallers Arenberg cobbles. As Mike O’Brien nicely put it “ … they can’t be serious … “. Next Sunday they most definitely will be.

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Paris Roubaix route signage was up, so you can’t get lost, until Sector 21 …

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Paris Roubaix route signage was up, so you can’t get lost, until Sector 21 …

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Troisvilles cobbles (Sector 29) were both short & relatively straightforward

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Troisvilles cobbles (Sector 29) were both short & relatively straightforward

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Michael Goolaerts Memorial at the Briastre Cobbles (Sector 28/27)

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Michael Goolaerts Memorial at the Briastre Cobbles (Sector 28/27)

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Viesly cobbles (Sector 26) includes a World War 1 German concrete bunker

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Viesly cobbles (Sector 26) includes a World War 1 German concrete bunker

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Mike O’Brien made the comment after Sector 25 (“ … that was bullshit … “)

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Mike O’Brien made the comment after Sector 25 (“ … that was bullshit … “)

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Mike Lawson

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Mike Lawson

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Mike O’Brien

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Mike O’Brien

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Maing Cobbles (Sector 22/21) … the “road” (yeah right) was blocked and things went very pear shaped soon afterwards …

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Maing Cobbles (Sector 22/21) … the “road” (yeah right) was blocked and things went very pear shaped soon afterwards …

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Wallers Arenberg cobbles with Mike O’Brien & Mike O’Reilly

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Wallers Arenberg cobbles with Mike O’Brien & Mike O’Reilly

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April -  Wallers Arenberg and the Cofidis Team Car turned up for a pre recce inspection

Troisvilles Wallers @ 8 April - Wallers Arenberg and the Cofidis Team Car turned up for a pre recce inspection

RVV (Tour of Flanders) @ 7 April -  Mike Lawson as the Womens RVV peloton starts from central Oudenaarde   RVV Report @ 7 April   The Ronde defines Belgium is many ways and what a joy to be in this country on this classic day.  The BiciSport group (joined by Peter Tomlinson & Ted Anderson from the NSW Southern Highlands Club) headed off the see the Womens Ronde start in Oudenaarde at 11.00am. From there it was a short pedal to the Koppenberg Cafe at Melden, the Kortekeer climb with the pro peloton somewhat asleep, watched the Womens RVV scream off the Patersberg climb, a final peak of Peter Sagan at the base of the Old Kwaremont, then finally a Belgian beer at the Lentrecote Restaurant (thank you to Lucrese Willeart for letting the BiciSport peloton invade your restaurant and watch the live tv finish). The Italians won the day in both races which meant it was a very subdued flemish crowd at the end of a classic day.

RVV (Tour of Flanders) @ 7 April - Mike Lawson as the Womens RVV peloton starts from central Oudenaarde

RVV Report @ 7 April

The Ronde defines Belgium is many ways and what a joy to be in this country on this classic day.

The BiciSport group (joined by Peter Tomlinson & Ted Anderson from the NSW Southern Highlands Club) headed off the see the Womens Ronde start in Oudenaarde at 11.00am. From there it was a short pedal to the Koppenberg Cafe at Melden, the Kortekeer climb with the pro peloton somewhat asleep, watched the Womens RVV scream off the Patersberg climb, a final peak of Peter Sagan at the base of the Old Kwaremont, then finally a Belgian beer at the Lentrecote Restaurant (thank you to Lucrese Willeart for letting the BiciSport peloton invade your restaurant and watch the live tv finish). The Italians won the day in both races which meant it was a very subdued flemish crowd at the end of a classic day.

RVV @ 7 April  - Peter Tomlinson (UCI & CycNSW Commissaire) at the Koppenberg cobbles

RVV @ 7 April - Peter Tomlinson (UCI & CycNSW Commissaire) at the Koppenberg cobbles

RVV @ 7 April  - Alej Valverde passes the Koppenberg Cafe. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April - Alej Valverde passes the Koppenberg Cafe. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April  - The Koppenberg Cafe at Melden is a Flemish institution on the Ronde day (all the inhabitants may end up in an institution at some point). Its brash, its rustic, its old, its crowded, its smelly, beer is the universal currency of choice, and its all things Flemish cycling. The BiciSport group arrived just before 12noon, and the local lads were already gassed up on the local brew and the day had just begun. The BiciSport group escaped to the Kortekeer climb shortly afterwards..

RVV @ 7 April - The Koppenberg Cafe at Melden is a Flemish institution on the Ronde day (all the inhabitants may end up in an institution at some point). Its brash, its rustic, its old, its crowded, its smelly, beer is the universal currency of choice, and its all things Flemish cycling. The BiciSport group arrived just before 12noon, and the local lads were already gassed up on the local brew and the day had just begun. The BiciSport group escaped to the Kortekeer climb shortly afterwards..

RVV @ 7 April -  Eddy Merckx hasn’t retired and lives on at the Koppenberg Cafe. Flanders flags are everywhere.

RVV @ 7 April - Eddy Merckx hasn’t retired and lives on at the Koppenberg Cafe. Flanders flags are everywhere.

RVV @ 7 April  - Alex Kristoff (UAE, red helmet) climbs the Kortekeer climb. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April - Alex Kristoff (UAE, red helmet) climbs the Kortekeer climb. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April -  The Womens RVV speed off the Patersburg climb towards the Oudenaarde finish. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April - The Womens RVV speed off the Patersburg climb towards the Oudenaarde finish. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April  - Alej Valverde on the approach to the Koppenberg cobbles. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April - Alej Valverde on the approach to the Koppenberg cobbles. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April  - Michael Matthews (Sunweb) leads Peter Sagan (Bora) on the approach to the Koppenberg cobbles. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April - Michael Matthews (Sunweb) leads Peter Sagan (Bora) on the approach to the Koppenberg cobbles. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April  - Peter Sagan (right) approaches the Old Kwaremont cobbles with 25k to the finish. Photo MO’R

RVV @ 7 April - Peter Sagan (right) approaches the Old Kwaremont cobbles with 25k to the finish. Photo MO’R

Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders Cyclosportive) @ 6 April -  At the start with   Mike van der O’Reilly, Mike van der O’Brien & Mike van der Lawson.  Coincidentally, just after the above picture was taken the national Sporza tv crew (left in the picture) realized we were a group of Aussies and interviewed MO’R and the interview was aired that night on the national Sporza tv program.   Ride Report @ 6 April   Maarten van der Wright had returned to the Muur van Dee Why, and the BiciSport team was bolstered by the arrival of Mike van der O’Brien from the UK.  Another nice weather day greeted the 17,000 RVV cyclosportive riders - it was raining lycra in Oudenaarde on the Saturday morning for the 9.00am start. Mike O’R did the 75k option which for MO’R was a long walk up the Koppenberg (oh the shame) but a better effort on the Kruisberg (near Ronse) and the Old Kwaremont. Mike O’Brien & Lawson did the 135k RVV option which included nearly every cobbled berg of note - Kerkgate cobbles, Molenberg, Paddestraat cobbles, Haaghoek cobbles, Valkenberg, Eikenberg (near Kokerelle B&B), Koppenberg, Taainberg, Old Kwaremont & Patersberg. There was over 1,700m of climbing in the 135k cyclosportive.

Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders Cyclosportive) @ 6 April - At the start with Mike van der O’Reilly, Mike van der O’Brien & Mike van der Lawson.

Coincidentally, just after the above picture was taken the national Sporza tv crew (left in the picture) realized we were a group of Aussies and interviewed MO’R and the interview was aired that night on the national Sporza tv program.

Ride Report @ 6 April

Maarten van der Wright had returned to the Muur van Dee Why, and the BiciSport team was bolstered by the arrival of Mike van der O’Brien from the UK.

Another nice weather day greeted the 17,000 RVV cyclosportive riders - it was raining lycra in Oudenaarde on the Saturday morning for the 9.00am start. Mike O’R did the 75k option which for MO’R was a long walk up the Koppenberg (oh the shame) but a better effort on the Kruisberg (near Ronse) and the Old Kwaremont. Mike O’Brien & Lawson did the 135k RVV option which included nearly every cobbled berg of note - Kerkgate cobbles, Molenberg, Paddestraat cobbles, Haaghoek cobbles, Valkenberg, Eikenberg (near Kokerelle B&B), Koppenberg, Taainberg, Old Kwaremont & Patersberg. There was over 1,700m of climbing in the 135k cyclosportive.

Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders Cyclosportive) @ 6 April -  at the post cyclosportive function in Oudenaarde with  Johan Museeuw . Johan won the UCI World Cup (1995, 96), World Champion (1996), triple Ronde winner (1993, 95 & 98), four times Paris Roubaix winner (1993, 96, 2000 & 2002) and Belgian National Champion (1992 & 96).

Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders Cyclosportive) @ 6 April - at the post cyclosportive function in Oudenaarde with Johan Museeuw. Johan won the UCI World Cup (1995, 96), World Champion (1996), triple Ronde winner (1993, 95 & 98), four times Paris Roubaix winner (1993, 96, 2000 & 2002) and Belgian National Champion (1992 & 96).

Sven Nys Cycling Centre @ Hageland @ 4 April -  Mike Lawson   Ride Report @ 4 April   What Sven Nys is for cyclo cross is equally Eddy Merckx for road cycling - both are Belgian and both are the greatest of all time in their respective disciplines.  Sven recently retired and has established a specialist cyclo cross centre at Balenberg in the Hageland region (on the Belgian-Dutch border) . There is an expansive cyclo cross museum, bike rental facilities, a challenging circuit coupled with a very respectable restaurant/cafe. Mike Lawson rode the cyclo cross circuit and his smile said it all. Fun was had.  After Balenberg it was a 45 minute drive towards the Dutch border direction Lommel & Mol (home of Tom Boonen) for an inspection of the World Masters Championship Cyclo Cross circuit in December 2019 at the Zilvermeer Water Park (sort of a Belgian version of Sydney’s  Wet & Wild) .

Sven Nys Cycling Centre @ Hageland @ 4 April - Mike Lawson

Ride Report @ 4 April

What Sven Nys is for cyclo cross is equally Eddy Merckx for road cycling - both are Belgian and both are the greatest of all time in their respective disciplines.

Sven recently retired and has established a specialist cyclo cross centre at Balenberg in the Hageland region (on the Belgian-Dutch border) . There is an expansive cyclo cross museum, bike rental facilities, a challenging circuit coupled with a very respectable restaurant/cafe. Mike Lawson rode the cyclo cross circuit and his smile said it all. Fun was had.

After Balenberg it was a 45 minute drive towards the Dutch border direction Lommel & Mol (home of Tom Boonen) for an inspection of the World Masters Championship Cyclo Cross circuit in December 2019 at the Zilvermeer Water Park (sort of a Belgian version of Sydney’s Wet & Wild).

Sven Nys Cycling Centre @ Hageland @ 4 April -  Mike Lawson

Sven Nys Cycling Centre @ Hageland @ 4 April - Mike Lawson

Sven Nys Cycling Centre @ Hageland @ 4 April -  Mike O’Reilly with the race winning bike from the 2009 World Cyclo Cross Championships ridden by Niels Albert

Sven Nys Cycling Centre @ Hageland @ 4 April - Mike O’Reilly with the race winning bike from the 2009 World Cyclo Cross Championships ridden by Niels Albert

Sven Nys Cycling Centre @ Hageland @ 4 April -  Mike Lawson walking the Sven Nys cyclo cross circuit at Balenberg

Sven Nys Cycling Centre @ Hageland @ 4 April - Mike Lawson walking the Sven Nys cyclo cross circuit at Balenberg

Zilvermeer Water Park @ 4 April  - Mike Lawson inspects the World Masters Championships Cyclo Cross 2019 course which includes large sections of running in the sand beside the Zilvermeer Lake.

Zilvermeer Water Park @ 4 April - Mike Lawson inspects the World Masters Championships Cyclo Cross 2019 course which includes large sections of running in the sand beside the Zilvermeer Lake.

Dwars door Vlaanderen (Straight across Flanders) @ 3 April  - The peloton approaches Oudenaarde. Photo MOR   Dwars Ride Report @ 3 April   The Ronde is only 4 days away and the buzz is everywhere. This is the last chance to see the professionals and the Dwars goes over several of the climbs used in the Ronde on Sunday. Having said that the Dwars is not an easy race to follow with all the action coming in the last 60k and little opportunity to leapfrog ahead of the race. So we decided to do what we could by bike and see the Dwars twice then back to our Kokerelle B&B for the live tv feed.  First pass was just outside Oudenaarde (picture above) then a 15 minute pedal to the Berg Ten Houte cobbled climb. The Berg Ten Houte was an insignificant & poorly surfaced bitumen road that hadn’t been used for cycle racing in years. Similiarly to what happened at the Patersberg …. the road was recently fully rebuilt with brand new cobbles !!. Heck, why not cobbles as it is Flanders after all. The Berg Ten Houte climb is a cobbled delight - short, sharp and an instant Flandrien success story.

Dwars door Vlaanderen (Straight across Flanders) @ 3 April - The peloton approaches Oudenaarde. Photo MOR

Dwars Ride Report @ 3 April

The Ronde is only 4 days away and the buzz is everywhere. This is the last chance to see the professionals and the Dwars goes over several of the climbs used in the Ronde on Sunday. Having said that the Dwars is not an easy race to follow with all the action coming in the last 60k and little opportunity to leapfrog ahead of the race. So we decided to do what we could by bike and see the Dwars twice then back to our Kokerelle B&B for the live tv feed.

First pass was just outside Oudenaarde (picture above) then a 15 minute pedal to the Berg Ten Houte cobbled climb. The Berg Ten Houte was an insignificant & poorly surfaced bitumen road that hadn’t been used for cycle racing in years. Similiarly to what happened at the Patersberg …. the road was recently fully rebuilt with brand new cobbles !!. Heck, why not cobbles as it is Flanders after all. The Berg Ten Houte climb is a cobbled delight - short, sharp and an instant Flandrien success story.

Dwars door Vlaanderen @ 3 April  - the ‘new’ Berg Ten Houte cobbled climb with Valverde. Photo MOR

Dwars door Vlaanderen @ 3 April - the ‘new’ Berg Ten Houte cobbled climb with Valverde. Photo MOR

Dwars door Vlaanderen @ 3 April -  Berg Ten Houte cobbled climb. Photo MOR

Dwars door Vlaanderen @ 3 April - Berg Ten Houte cobbled climb. Photo MOR

Dwars door Vlaanderen @ 3 April  - up close and personal on the Berg Ten Houte cobbled climb. Photo MOR

Dwars door Vlaanderen @ 3 April - up close and personal on the Berg Ten Houte cobbled climb. Photo MOR

Dwars door Vlaanderen @ 3 April -  the steep corner at Berg Ten Houte cobbled climb. Photo MOR

Dwars door Vlaanderen @ 3 April - the steep corner at Berg Ten Houte cobbled climb. Photo MOR

Muur (Wall) of Geraadsbergen @ 1 April  - Marty Wright climbs the Kapel Muur (Chapel Wall) cobbles   Muur Ride Report @ 1 April   A 70k ride was on the menu with small Flemish back lanes towards Brakel, where we joined the official Tour of Flanders race route and simply followed the race route signs already posted for next weekends Flanders Classic. Then it was through Brakel and on towards the cobbled Muur of Geraadsbergen. As cobbled climbs go the Muur maybe is the most famous but is neither the steepest nor the most difficult (Patersberg is much more uncomfortable) and everybody got to the Muur summit comfortably.

Muur (Wall) of Geraadsbergen @ 1 April - Marty Wright climbs the Kapel Muur (Chapel Wall) cobbles

Muur Ride Report @ 1 April

A 70k ride was on the menu with small Flemish back lanes towards Brakel, where we joined the official Tour of Flanders race route and simply followed the race route signs already posted for next weekends Flanders Classic. Then it was through Brakel and on towards the cobbled Muur of Geraadsbergen. As cobbled climbs go the Muur maybe is the most famous but is neither the steepest nor the most difficult (Patersberg is much more uncomfortable) and everybody got to the Muur summit comfortably.

Muur (Wall) of Geraadsbergen @ 1 April -  outside the Geraadsbergen Church at the cobbled summit of the Muur

Muur (Wall) of Geraadsbergen @ 1 April - outside the Geraadsbergen Church at the cobbled summit of the Muur

Velle WAOD Masters Race @ 31 March  - Mike Lawson had local media obligations before the start   Velle WAOD Masters Race Report @ 31 March   Velle is a small village 20k outside Antwerp and plays host to numerous cycle races during the year. The Tour of Flanders pro classic passes down the main street next Sunday. WAOD is one of several ‘racing leagues’ in Belgium and is somewhere between NSW Open racing & club level standards. There is usually 6 or 7 races on offer for all age groups and in high summer it’s possible to race up to 4 or 5 times per week.  Mike Lawson’s race had some 20 starters and the winning break formed at the end of lap 2 (of 8 laps in total), never to be seen again. Mike rode well in the chasing peloton.  It was great to catch up with the Ver Hulst family who organised the Velle WAOD event. The Ver Hulst’s have kindly hosted several BiciSport riders at local Flanders races over the years.

Velle WAOD Masters Race @ 31 March - Mike Lawson had local media obligations before the start

Velle WAOD Masters Race Report @ 31 March

Velle is a small village 20k outside Antwerp and plays host to numerous cycle races during the year. The Tour of Flanders pro classic passes down the main street next Sunday. WAOD is one of several ‘racing leagues’ in Belgium and is somewhere between NSW Open racing & club level standards. There is usually 6 or 7 races on offer for all age groups and in high summer it’s possible to race up to 4 or 5 times per week.

Mike Lawson’s race had some 20 starters and the winning break formed at the end of lap 2 (of 8 laps in total), never to be seen again. Mike rode well in the chasing peloton.

It was great to catch up with the Ver Hulst family who organised the Velle WAOD event. The Ver Hulst’s have kindly hosted several BiciSport riders at local Flanders races over the years.

Velle WAOD Masters Race @ 31 March  - Mike Lawson enters the finishing straight on lap 2 (of 8 laps). Conditions were fresh with a sharp Flanders breeze on the nose. Each lap had numerous corners along narrow Flemish laneways with two climbs (being man made Antwerp-Paris freeway overpasses).

Velle WAOD Masters Race @ 31 March - Mike Lawson enters the finishing straight on lap 2 (of 8 laps). Conditions were fresh with a sharp Flanders breeze on the nose. Each lap had numerous corners along narrow Flemish laneways with two climbs (being man made Antwerp-Paris freeway overpasses).

Velle WAOD Masters Race @ 31 March  - Mike Lawson at the head of the chasing peloton in the Velle Masters

Velle WAOD Masters Race @ 31 March - Mike Lawson at the head of the chasing peloton in the Velle Masters

Velle WAOD Masters Race @ 31 March  - after the finish of the Velle Masters with Maarten & Koen Ver Hulst

Velle WAOD Masters Race @ 31 March - after the finish of the Velle Masters with Maarten & Koen Ver Hulst

Velle WAOD Masters Race @ 31 March -  after the conclusion of the Velle Masters it was a retreat into a 1970’s time warp at the ‘ The Falcon’  Pub   (a well known local den of ill repute with a somewhat circumspect history) for some local Belgian beer (just 1,475 beers to go) with the Gent Wevelgem professional Classic live on Belgian tv.

Velle WAOD Masters Race @ 31 March - after the conclusion of the Velle Masters it was a retreat into a 1970’s time warp at the ‘The Falcon’ Pub (a well known local den of ill repute with a somewhat circumspect history) for some local Belgian beer (just 1,475 beers to go) with the Gent Wevelgem professional Classic live on Belgian tv.

Reprise @ E3 Grand Prix @ 29 March  - The E3 GP circuit passes the Kokerelle B&B and the owner (Kathy Sante) snapped the one & only Peter Sagan on the way through

Reprise @ E3 Grand Prix @ 29 March - The E3 GP circuit passes the Kokerelle B&B and the owner (Kathy Sante) snapped the one & only Peter Sagan on the way through

Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive Ride Report @ 30 March   The professional Classic is held on the Sunday with the Cyclosportive conducted the day before. The cyclo starts and finishes in Wevelgem (where the professional race finishes). Weather conditions on the Saturday were balmy @ 20 degrees.  Leaving Wevelgem in a good sized peloton and within 5 minutes we were on tiny Flemish laneways darting around the rural countryside. The cycling was simply stunning with numerous left-right turns through the rural Flanders Fields. Enjoyable doesn’t begin to describe how much fun these rural Flemish laneways can be on the bike.  On towards Ieper and the Ieper Salient (of World War 1 fame) and under the Menin Gate on the outskirts of Ieper. From Ieper after just 40k it was off towards the cobbled Kemmelberg. One minute Mike & Marty were in a nice sized peloton but the Aussies missed a turn and were soon very solo and very much lost (oops !). We could see the Kemmelberg in the distance so we cut through the village of Dikkebus to see if we could find the cyclosportive peloton again.  The village of Kemmel (and the Casino Cafe) offered a great coffee and we rejoined our cyclosportive brothers on the other side of the Kemmelberg. The next challenge was the gravel roads at Ploegsteert (full of WW 1 history & dotted with respectful Commonwealth War Graves). The gravel was more like concrete and no issues were encountered.  The final run into Wevelgem from Ploegsteert was aided by a strong tailwind along the Leie River Bike Path towards the Wevelgem finish. Mike & Marty completed the 90k at an average speed of 28kph & Mike Lawson completed the 140k easily.

Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive Ride Report @ 30 March

The professional Classic is held on the Sunday with the Cyclosportive conducted the day before. The cyclo starts and finishes in Wevelgem (where the professional race finishes). Weather conditions on the Saturday were balmy @ 20 degrees.

Leaving Wevelgem in a good sized peloton and within 5 minutes we were on tiny Flemish laneways darting around the rural countryside. The cycling was simply stunning with numerous left-right turns through the rural Flanders Fields. Enjoyable doesn’t begin to describe how much fun these rural Flemish laneways can be on the bike.

On towards Ieper and the Ieper Salient (of World War 1 fame) and under the Menin Gate on the outskirts of Ieper. From Ieper after just 40k it was off towards the cobbled Kemmelberg. One minute Mike & Marty were in a nice sized peloton but the Aussies missed a turn and were soon very solo and very much lost (oops !). We could see the Kemmelberg in the distance so we cut through the village of Dikkebus to see if we could find the cyclosportive peloton again.

The village of Kemmel (and the Casino Cafe) offered a great coffee and we rejoined our cyclosportive brothers on the other side of the Kemmelberg. The next challenge was the gravel roads at Ploegsteert (full of WW 1 history & dotted with respectful Commonwealth War Graves). The gravel was more like concrete and no issues were encountered.

The final run into Wevelgem from Ploegsteert was aided by a strong tailwind along the Leie River Bike Path towards the Wevelgem finish. Mike & Marty completed the 90k at an average speed of 28kph & Mike Lawson completed the 140k easily.

Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive @ 30 Mar  - Mike O’Reilly & Marty Wright before the Wevelgem start

Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive @ 30 Mar - Mike O’Reilly & Marty Wright before the Wevelgem start

Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive @ 30 Mar  - Marty & Mike at the Menin Gate in Ieper. At the Menin Gate each night the Ieper Fire Bridge conduct the Last Post Ceremony in respect of the fallen soldiers from WW1.

Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive @ 30 Mar - Marty & Mike at the Menin Gate in Ieper. At the Menin Gate each night the Ieper Fire Bridge conduct the Last Post Ceremony in respect of the fallen soldiers from WW1.

Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive @ 30 Mar @ Ieper Feed Zone  outside the Ieper Cloth Hall

Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive @ 30 Mar @ Ieper Feed Zone outside the Ieper Cloth Hall

Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive @ 30 Mar @ Kemmelberg Cafe  - Mike & Marty at the Casino Cafe in Kemmel

Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive @ 30 Mar @ Kemmelberg Cafe - Mike & Marty at the Casino Cafe in Kemmel

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar  - The main E3 peloton passes intact over the Holleweg Cobbles. Photo MOR   E3 Grand Prix Report @ 29 Mar   One cannot doubt that  Global Warming  is alive & well when Belgium in March is blue sky, no wind, no fog and no rain. Refunds are due as it was more like Bellingen in NSW than Brakel in Flanders. Mike Lawson, Marty Wright & Mike O’Reilly started the E3 day at the Holleweg cobbles just 2k from the Kokerelle B&B. From there an easy 15 minute drive to the top of the Kortekeer climb (no cobbles) near Ronse. The peloton was still comfortably intact at this point. Only 45 minutes later and the E3 peloton returned to the same intersection from the opposite direction, but this time the E3 peloton was now very very ragged with the majority living in the Flanders hurt box (clearly a cobbled grenade had gone off in the intervening 45 minutes).  The fourth viewing of the E3 Grand Prix was at the Avelgem cobbles near Kluisbergen. Rob Jungels & Quick Step were in complete control & Peter Sagan was in the third group and deep in the hurt box (good money is still on Sagan for another Roubaix victory in two weeks time). Just around the corner from the Avelgem cobbles was the Kerkhove Pub with the mandatory Flemish tv pumping out the E3 finish, and only 1,492 Belgian beers to go …

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar - The main E3 peloton passes intact over the Holleweg Cobbles. Photo MOR

E3 Grand Prix Report @ 29 Mar

One cannot doubt that Global Warming is alive & well when Belgium in March is blue sky, no wind, no fog and no rain. Refunds are due as it was more like Bellingen in NSW than Brakel in Flanders. Mike Lawson, Marty Wright & Mike O’Reilly started the E3 day at the Holleweg cobbles just 2k from the Kokerelle B&B. From there an easy 15 minute drive to the top of the Kortekeer climb (no cobbles) near Ronse. The peloton was still comfortably intact at this point. Only 45 minutes later and the E3 peloton returned to the same intersection from the opposite direction, but this time the E3 peloton was now very very ragged with the majority living in the Flanders hurt box (clearly a cobbled grenade had gone off in the intervening 45 minutes).

The fourth viewing of the E3 Grand Prix was at the Avelgem cobbles near Kluisbergen. Rob Jungels & Quick Step were in complete control & Peter Sagan was in the third group and deep in the hurt box (good money is still on Sagan for another Roubaix victory in two weeks time). Just around the corner from the Avelgem cobbles was the Kerkhove Pub with the mandatory Flemish tv pumping out the E3 finish, and only 1,492 Belgian beers to go …

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Kortekeer Climb Feed Zone -  Marty Wright and the QS team car with the accompanying  Specialised Venge swarm . Photo MOR

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Kortekeer Climb Feed Zone - Marty Wright and the QS team car with the accompanying Specialised Venge swarm. Photo MOR

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Kortekeer Climb Feed Zone  - only one thing better than a single Specialised Venge with Rovals … is a ‘ Specialised Venge swarm ’ atop the QS team car. Photo MOR.

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Kortekeer Climb Feed Zone - only one thing better than a single Specialised Venge with Rovals … is a ‘Specialised Venge swarm’ atop the QS team car. Photo MOR.

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Kortekeer Climb Feed Zone  - Peter Sagan (white jersey, far left). Photo MOR.

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Kortekeer Climb Feed Zone - Peter Sagan (white jersey, far left). Photo MOR.

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Kortekeer Climb Feed Zone -  Greg Van Avermatt 2016 Olympic Road Race Champion (Team CCC). Photo MOR.

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Kortekeer Climb Feed Zone - Greg Van Avermatt 2016 Olympic Road Race Champion (Team CCC). Photo MOR.

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Kortekeer Climb (second pass) -  Peter Sagan (Bora) in the thick of the E3 Grand Prix peloton. Photo MOR.

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Kortekeer Climb (second pass) - Peter Sagan (Bora) in the thick of the E3 Grand Prix peloton. Photo MOR.

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Avelgem Cobbles -  Bob Jungels and Quick Step were simply outstanding. Photo MOR.

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Avelgem Cobbles - Bob Jungels and Quick Step were simply outstanding. Photo MOR.

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Avelgem Cobbles -  Peter Sagan was not on a great day but remains a hot favourite for Paris Roubaix in two weeks time. Photo MOR

E3 Grand Prix @ 29 Mar @ Avelgem Cobbles - Peter Sagan was not on a great day but remains a hot favourite for Paris Roubaix in two weeks time. Photo MOR

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar  - Mike Lawson & Marty Wright at the Arenberg Forest cobbles   Roubaix Recon Ride Report @ 28 Mar   Barely an hour’s drive from the Kokerelle B&B in Oudenaarde, down through Tournai and across the Belgian-French border at Saint-Amand les-Eaux to the Arenberg Forest cobbles. Marty Wright neatly summed it up … ”Well, the Arenberg Forest cobbles, that was total bullshit ! !” …  The next cobbled sector came almost immediately at Wallers for the Gibus Pont (Sector 18). Somehow the lads completely missed Sector 17 (not sure how that happened), but cobbled hostilities were quickly resumed at both Warlaing & Brillon (Sectors 16 & 15). Both were hard & uncomfortable. Again we somehow inadvertently missed Sector 14 (what happened there ?) and leapfrogged straight onto Orchies at Sector 13. After Orchies the bikes were packed into the truck & we headed straight for the Roubaix Velodrome and a chance for Marty to do a few free laps around an iconic velodrome.

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar - Mike Lawson & Marty Wright at the Arenberg Forest cobbles

Roubaix Recon Ride Report @ 28 Mar

Barely an hour’s drive from the Kokerelle B&B in Oudenaarde, down through Tournai and across the Belgian-French border at Saint-Amand les-Eaux to the Arenberg Forest cobbles. Marty Wright neatly summed it up … ”Well, the Arenberg Forest cobbles, that was total bullshit ! !” …

The next cobbled sector came almost immediately at Wallers for the Gibus Pont (Sector 18). Somehow the lads completely missed Sector 17 (not sure how that happened), but cobbled hostilities were quickly resumed at both Warlaing & Brillon (Sectors 16 & 15). Both were hard & uncomfortable. Again we somehow inadvertently missed Sector 14 (what happened there ?) and leapfrogged straight onto Orchies at Sector 13. After Orchies the bikes were packed into the truck & we headed straight for the Roubaix Velodrome and a chance for Marty to do a few free laps around an iconic velodrome.

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar  - Arenberg Forest cobbles (Sector 19) with Martin Wright & Mike Lawson

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar - Arenberg Forest cobbles (Sector 19) with Martin Wright & Mike Lawson

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar -  at the Gibus Pont (Gibus Bridge) cobbles (Sector 18 of the Paris Roubaix Classic)

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar - at the Gibus Pont (Gibus Bridge) cobbles (Sector 18 of the Paris Roubaix Classic)

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar  - at the Warlaing cobbles (Sector 16)

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar - at the Warlaing cobbles (Sector 16)

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar -  Mike Lawson at the Orchies cobbles (Sector 13)

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar - Mike Lawson at the Orchies cobbles (Sector 13)

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar  - Marty Wright outside the team rooms of Velo Club Roubaix at the Roubaix Velodrome with his own piece of Paris Roubaix history

Roubaix Recon Ride @ 28 Mar - Marty Wright outside the team rooms of Velo Club Roubaix at the Roubaix Velodrome with his own piece of Paris Roubaix history

Bruges - De Panne Classic @ 27 Mar  - Martin Wright (second from left) at the top of the Kemmelberg climb as the breakaway passes with a 4 minute lead over the main peloton   Haaghoek & Molenberg Ride Report @ 27 Mar   An earlier start to the day at 8.00am as we needed to be at the Kemmelberg by 1.30pm for the De Panne pro race. The first cobbles of the day was at the Haaghoek, followed by the short Leberg climb (both used in Tour of Flanders pro race on 7 April). A simple wrong turn off the top of the Leberg climb resulted in maybe 1 kilometre of dirt riding which somehow looped us back onto the Haaghoek cobbles again (oops, sorry lads). From there a short run on to the Molenberg cobbled climb towards the Schelde River, then along the Schelde River bike path back into Oudenaarde. Mike Lawson & Marty finished the day with the climb of the Eikenberg cobbles near the Kokerelle B&B.  A short drive from Kokerelle B&B to the Kemmelberg climb in West Flanders was rewarded with a beer at the Kemmelberg Hotel (only 1,497 beers to go).

Bruges - De Panne Classic @ 27 Mar - Martin Wright (second from left) at the top of the Kemmelberg climb as the breakaway passes with a 4 minute lead over the main peloton

Haaghoek & Molenberg Ride Report @ 27 Mar

An earlier start to the day at 8.00am as we needed to be at the Kemmelberg by 1.30pm for the De Panne pro race. The first cobbles of the day was at the Haaghoek, followed by the short Leberg climb (both used in Tour of Flanders pro race on 7 April). A simple wrong turn off the top of the Leberg climb resulted in maybe 1 kilometre of dirt riding which somehow looped us back onto the Haaghoek cobbles again (oops, sorry lads). From there a short run on to the Molenberg cobbled climb towards the Schelde River, then along the Schelde River bike path back into Oudenaarde. Mike Lawson & Marty finished the day with the climb of the Eikenberg cobbles near the Kokerelle B&B.

A short drive from Kokerelle B&B to the Kemmelberg climb in West Flanders was rewarded with a beer at the Kemmelberg Hotel (only 1,497 beers to go).

Bruges - De Panne Classic @ 27 Mar  - Martin Wright (left) as the main peloton passes the top of the Kemmelberg climb

Bruges - De Panne Classic @ 27 Mar - Martin Wright (left) as the main peloton passes the top of the Kemmelberg climb

Bruges - De Panne Classic @ 27 Mar  - the live tv coverage from the top of the Kemmelberg climb

Bruges - De Panne Classic @ 27 Mar - the live tv coverage from the top of the Kemmelberg climb

De Carillion Bar @ Oudenaarde @ 26 Mar -  somewhat typical Belgian bar to be found anywhere in Flanders. The only thing missing is the cigar smoke, but it has the usual dose of retro wooden furniture, everything is a shade of brown (maybe its the nicotene ?), decor from WW2 (or earlier) and a supply of local bar flys dotted along each wall. Naturally  Martin van der Wright  was spotted at the De Carillon giving it the  Patrick Swayze  look of complete approval. Belgium has 1,500 beers … just 1,498 to go …

De Carillion Bar @ Oudenaarde @ 26 Mar - somewhat typical Belgian bar to be found anywhere in Flanders. The only thing missing is the cigar smoke, but it has the usual dose of retro wooden furniture, everything is a shade of brown (maybe its the nicotene ?), decor from WW2 (or earlier) and a supply of local bar flys dotted along each wall. Naturally Martin van der Wright was spotted at the De Carillon giving it the Patrick Swayze look of complete approval. Belgium has 1,500 beers … just 1,498 to go …

Tour of Flanders Museum Oudenaarde @ 26 Mar -  Teisj Benoit (Lotto Soudal) won the Eroica Pro Race in 2017, and his mud covered Ridley (plus frame race number) is currently on show at the Flanders Museum. The bike itself has been permanently air brushed with varnish to preserve all of the grime & dirt, so it cannot be removed.

Tour of Flanders Museum Oudenaarde @ 26 Mar - Teisj Benoit (Lotto Soudal) won the Eroica Pro Race in 2017, and his mud covered Ridley (plus frame race number) is currently on show at the Flanders Museum. The bike itself has been permanently air brushed with varnish to preserve all of the grime & dirt, so it cannot be removed.

Karel van Wijnedaele Monument @ 26 Mar  - Marty Wright & Mike Lawson   Koppenberg Loop Ride Report @ 26 Mar   The day dawned sunny & crisp (maximum 10 degrees) with very little wind for a 45k loop through Oudenaarde, then onto the Schelde River bike path towards the Roubaix Velodrome (only 35k away). After 15k at Kluisbergen it was Marty Wright’s first taste of Belgian cobbles at the Old Kwaremont. The end result being BiciSport 3 Old Kwaremont 0. The stones were dry & benign and it was off to the Wijnedaele Monument (Karel was the founder of the Tour of Flanders Pro Race).  Next stop was the much steeper Patersberg where Mike Lawson took the solo honours at the top. BiciSport 1 Patersberg 2. From the Patersberg it was a brief effort direction Koppenberg, where again the cobbles looked almost inviting (being dry). If golf is “a good walk ruined” then the Koppenberg is potentially in a similar category. Mike Lawson again took the solo honours … BiciSport 1 Koppenberg 2. The overall Berg Pointscore went something like BiciSport 5 Belgian Killer Bergs 4. A win is a win ! !  The ride finished with a coffee & cake at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen Cafe at the RVV Museum in central Oudenaarde.

Karel van Wijnedaele Monument @ 26 Mar - Marty Wright & Mike Lawson

Koppenberg Loop Ride Report @ 26 Mar

The day dawned sunny & crisp (maximum 10 degrees) with very little wind for a 45k loop through Oudenaarde, then onto the Schelde River bike path towards the Roubaix Velodrome (only 35k away). After 15k at Kluisbergen it was Marty Wright’s first taste of Belgian cobbles at the Old Kwaremont. The end result being BiciSport 3 Old Kwaremont 0. The stones were dry & benign and it was off to the Wijnedaele Monument (Karel was the founder of the Tour of Flanders Pro Race).

Next stop was the much steeper Patersberg where Mike Lawson took the solo honours at the top. BiciSport 1 Patersberg 2. From the Patersberg it was a brief effort direction Koppenberg, where again the cobbles looked almost inviting (being dry). If golf is “a good walk ruined” then the Koppenberg is potentially in a similar category. Mike Lawson again took the solo honours … BiciSport 1 Koppenberg 2. The overall Berg Pointscore went something like BiciSport 5 Belgian Killer Bergs 4. A win is a win ! !

The ride finished with a coffee & cake at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen Cafe at the RVV Museum in central Oudenaarde.

Koppenberg @ 26 Mar -  Marty Wright, Mike Lawson & Mike O’Reilly

Koppenberg @ 26 Mar - Marty Wright, Mike Lawson & Mike O’Reilly

Koppenberg @ 26 Mar -  on the lower slopes of the Koppenberg Climb (aka the Black Beast), Mike Lawson, Mike O’Reilly & Marty Wright

Koppenberg @ 26 Mar - on the lower slopes of the Koppenberg Climb (aka the Black Beast), Mike Lawson, Mike O’Reilly & Marty Wright

Koppenberg @ 26 Mar -  Mike Lawson approaches the Black Beast

Koppenberg @ 26 Mar - Mike Lawson approaches the Black Beast

Koppenberg @ 26 Mar -  Marty Wright approaches the Black Beast

Koppenberg @ 26 Mar - Marty Wright approaches the Black Beast

The BiciSport team of Marty Wright plus the three Mikes (O’Brien, Lawson & O’Reilly) assume the cobbled position at the Kokerelle B&B (www.kokerelle.be) just outside Oudenaarde in central Flanders from 25 March.

The BiciSport in Flanders program being -

27 Mar - Bruges De Panne Pro Race 29 Mar - E3 Harelbeke Grand Prix Pro Race 30 Mar - Gent Wevelgem Cyclosportive, Mar 31 - Johan Museeuw Cyclosportive, Gent-Wevelgem Classic Pro Race, Velle Antwerp Retro Race

3 Apr - Dwars Vlaanderen Pro Race, 6 Apr - Tour of Flanders Cyclosportive, 7 Apr - Tour of Flanders Pro Classic

10 Apr - Schelde Prijs Antwerp Pro Race, 11 Apr - Roubaix Recce Ride from Wallers Arenberg to Roubaix Velodrome 13 Apr - Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive, 14 Apr - Paris Roubaix Pro Classic

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