Wednesday, April 25, 2018

L-B-L 2018 We Ride

Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2018

Larry's been trying to complete in-person viewing of the Five Monuments of Cycling for a few years now. He saw his 4th, the Tour of Flanders back in 2013 (more details on that HERE) but it's taken awhile to add La Doyenne, the oldest of them all.

Again like in 2013 Zio Lorenzo was the guest of our friends at Velo Classic Tours. Peter  and the ever-charming Lisa Easton share our philosophy of "passion before profit" so it was a simple idea to see L-B-L with them, as Heather (after Paris-Roubaix) decided she's no longer interested in visiting northern Europe.

While Larry's mostly content to simply view the race action, he gets talked into riding some of the course before the big event. And to be honest, this does help one understand the immense challenge these monuments of cycling throw at the pros.

You quickly are reminded that these guys are a different breed when you see them seemingly "just riding along" (as above, with VCT guest Jeff in the foreground) up a climb you had to stop on a couple of times to get your tongue out of the front wheel spokes! This Liberte climb was new for this race and Zio Lorenzo thought it the toughest by far.

Peter (above) likes to zoom along at a pace Larry can only match going downhill, but he can ride with Lisa while VCT's ever-helpful Asier gets stuck waiting for him so he doesn't get lost when the others jet up the steep climbs. This course seems the world's longest interval workout on the bike - endless, super-steep climbing with (sadly) more gradual descents where you kind of just sit there at 50-60 kph.

Earlier in the day, we were passed on a steep climb (why is it always this chance to take a photo?) by the Nibali squad out to check out the course. Check out the photo below of Vicenzo Nibali pushing VCT guest Jennifer up this climb! Yep, one of the biggest stars of the sport gave a push to someone just out riding. As the lady I met in our local cheese shop not too long ago said, "Despite his fame and fortune, Enzo remains a nice boy!"

We finished the ride with Le Redoute (above) which was tough, but Larry thinks it's as much about where it is on the race route as anything. But no matter what, some of these things exceed 20% gradients and their 1-2 km length can seem like forever!

VCT put us up in some swanky digs. Think of a Belgian version of Villa Sparina near Gavi. The race TV coverage even featured some nice helicopter shots of the place. As you can see above, some well-heeled folks with good taste in cars also stay here.

Next post - we watch the pros RACE!

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