Dover to Geraardsbergen, Geraardsbergen to Lessines
35k ridden to get to the start
Alarm goes at 6, up, shower, then bomb down to the ferry port by 6:45. Riding through the waiting traffic was fun, then queue up, and onto the ferry for 8. I was the first vehicle on 🙂
I bumped into a guy while waiting for the ferry who rode the TCR for the first 2 years. I had a great 30 min conversation, where I got some really useful tips –
- don’t carry anything on your back, (2 hrs is great, 10 days will destroy you),
- always carry a baguette or 2 on the rear bag,
- Don’t worry about water – there are few places that you can’t get water.
‘Nice’ fried breakfast on the ferry, then I get bored. I bought a new usb battery to replace the one I left at work, then it was time to leave. I felt in panic mode as I got off the ferry (first vehicle off 🙂 )
Stop at the ferry port exit, select my first route on the garmin, and its time to follow the purple line for the first time.
Ride on the right of the road– check
Headwind – check,
Find a cashpoint forsome euros – check
I feel slow, but I am just cruising across the border into Belgium. It all feels a little different to riding in the UK – its generally very quiet and easy riding.
I get to the train station at De Panne, prevaricate about going to a restaurant and instead buy a ticket and wait for the train. One change later, and 2hrs 30 mins later, I arrive at Geraadsbergen. I roll out of the station, head into town looking for wifi and food. I end up riding up the muur, to check it out, and then head back to the tourist square and use the wifi at the tourist info to book a hotel for the evening, 25k into my route
The weather forecast was for rain in the late evening, head winds moving to side winds overnight. I had pondered what to do on the first night – ride through or find a hotel early. I figured if this was day 2, would I be riding at 1 am? Probably not. The weather forecast was the deal clincher
This becomes a regular pattern, stop at 6ish, look at hotels in the towns ahead in booking.com, make an estimate of where I can get to and book something. It works generally well.
I make my way to the start, sit through the race briefing, eat a nice pre-race steak and a beer, (an ironman tradition), then I am bored. 3 hrs to wait. I bump into Simon and Jon, We had discussed about riding to the start together – and they knew me more than I knew them 🙂
Then finally, lots more riders appear, we get called to the start line.
Hi viz jackets come on, lights go on, and eventually we are away for a nutralised lap – I am mid pack, but essentially its just ride as hard as you like. After the Muur, we swing right and take some nice S bends back into town, back up to the start of the Muur, and its game on. I hammer it :-). Full gas up the cobbles, pass the yelling supporters, over the top, hang a right, and follow the tail lights.
I hear my Garmin beep that I am off course after 50m, but I know where I am going, following the tail lights, looking for the S bends back into town. I head down hill, but no S bends. Wtf? I stop, and spend 5 minutes figuring out where I am. Everyone was heading SE, I was supposed to be going SW and had missed the turn The Garmin was correct, I was off course and lost within 5 minutes of starting. Oh dear
Trying to refind your route on a garmin is hard. The screen is so small, so when you zoom out you lose all detail, zoom in to see roads, and you cant see what you are aiming for. Eventually fI igured it out, and headed towards my road via a God damned cobbled Belgian minor road. Popped onto the main road, and yay, bike lights on the right , tail lights on my left – not just me on this road. I ride a steady 25k to my hotel, in a headwind. I roll in at 01:00, but it takes another 30 minutes to register as the night porter is an idiot. *sigh*
Another rider turns up as I head to my room – not just me with this idea.
5 hrs sleep then up for breakfast at 7am