Apologies for the delay in getting the report from this event. It was mid-April when I traveled to Maastricht in the Netherlands for the 2011 Amstel Gold bike race with the Blazing Saddles RCC, full of expectation and excitement. The Netherlands are flat, right? That’s what I had been counting on!
One of the things I really dislike about travelling for events or about starting events at obscure times of the day is the fact that I have to get up early, toying with the snooze button and ‘five more minutes’. Well to get over this problem and to save the agony of getting up early I avoid going to sleep the night before. So at 4.30pm and just 12 hours before I was going to be meeting some of the Bath-based team members, I thought I’d give my bike a once over and make sure everything was working just right! That was when I snapped the cable.
I panicked! What was I going to do? Well I jumped on my now single speed road bike and dashed in to John’s Bikes, Bath to attempt a last minute piece of mechanical work. Secretly I’d been hoping that they’d whip out the old cable, whip in the new cable and within a few moments I’d be riding out of there with a perfectly shifting rear.
No such luck. I was scrabbling around with Will Collins on the phone, youtube tutorials along with trial and error before I finally had it working. I was ready for the off.
The event itself was massive! Far bigger than I was expecting and with a far bigger following than I’d imagined, the tiny town centre was crammed full as the riders signed in and the pro teams were announced.
The route itself was anything but flat. Setting off with the BSRCC strong man, Neil Thayer, we hit the front group and worked well to attack the early miles. Food was going in, the sun was coming out, the expectations were high. And so it continued. We were right out in front, holding a great speed and feeling comfortable. Too comfortable perhaps, on reflection. Something had to go wrong at some stage.
And then it did. Caught in the awareness of the Amstel’s series of looping routes we returned once again to a familiar section in Valkenburg. Then it did all go horrible wrong. We were sent the wrong way, speeding off in the wrong direction. Disaster! Disaster because we were not aware of it.
After much faffing, stressing, sprinting and lousy attempts at speaking Dutch we were back on route, thankful to be on course once more. And then my bonk arrived. And boy was it big! There was nothing that food nor sunshine was going to do to help me out of this one, so on with the remaining 130km of endlessly rolling climbs.
I turned to Andrew Gough (BSRCC mechanic who had caught us up by now) to ask where the broom wagon was, for I desperately needed it’s services. “There is no broom wagon” he says. Damn!
Apart from reaching the finish line, highlights from the weekend:
12 000 people riding their bikes.
Unanimous BSRCC personal records for distances cycled
The desperate drafting of the mobility scooter up the Cauberg
Brazen entry into the press area for the pro finish.
Fabulous work Blazing Saddles RCC.
Check out the photographs from the event at: http://blazingsaddlesrcc.co.uk/?tag=blazing-saddles-rcc