Weekend treat…

This has been a hard week for a number of reasons I wont go into so it’s nice to get to Friday evening and a delicious beer.

Posy backdrop but the drink is great

I’d not tasted this Leffe winter beer before but I am really impressed by it.

There remains a snobbery about Leffe , especially in Belgium. But as an accessible beer with a taste that can transport you back to Flanders it hits the spot.

Brune and Blonde I will drink. On draught I prefer Ruby but this one beats them all.

Its crisp, yet fruity and puts me in the mind of much pricier and stronger bottles.

So whilst I love the rarer and smaller batch products that are harder to track down and costlier to drink, this weekend I appeal to you all to show love for Leffe…

It does a job. It’s a domestique rather than classics winner but as long as you understand that it wont disappoint.

Last week was bitter sweet for Sweeck

When looking for a contemporary cyclo-cross star back in 2018 to pin my hopes on the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider Laurens Sweeck fitted the bill.

He was fast, acrobatic, agile and raced at the top tier of the sport taking it to Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert.

The last week has made me love him even more with his strengths in cycling overlaid with the emotion of how real life affects you.

There was everything in the Saturday race at Middelkerke (well actually there was no snow, but we got that Sunday) with the Telenet series win up for grabs.

With Eli Iserbyt, a team mate of Sweeck, in for the win depending in what happened to series leader Toon Aerts there was plenty of drama and excitement crammed in to an hour.

Pauwels Sauzen got three riders clear from the start with Aerts struggling. If Iserbyt could take the win he would take the series.

However he was clearly struggling and the team was stuck in a challenging situation of making sure they won the race as opposed to trying something clever to engineer a win for Eli.

Sweeck managed to slip away almost without effort. It was more that the others made mistakes or dropped back but on the last lap of the race it was clear he was emotional and crying whilst trying to understand from his pit team if he should stop and wait close to a minute for Iserbyt.

As it happened Aerts managed to recover enough to climb the field enough to ensure that he had enough points to take the win.

It was only in the post race press conference that a tearful Sweeck revealed that his Father-in-Law had passed away in the week and he’d wanted to win for him.

Iserbyt was critical of the team work which meant there was a bit of spice, even within the same team ahead of Sundays race in Lille (The one in Belgium).

With a coating of snow on the course it was again Sweeck who flew clear just before half distance enjoying a solo win to banish the bad feeling and emotion of 24 hours before.

It was a majestic win with controlled aggression riding over the icy snow and through a frozen forest.

Probably the best weekend of the season so far with an undercurrent of grief and emotion.

My thoughts are with Laurens and his family at this time.

Decathlon supporting the Friends of Paris Roubaix

There can’t be too many people who love cycling who don’t love Decathlon.

When we were able to travel in Europe I could never pass one without heading in for some sweatbands, a body board or a fleece.

I rode time trials in 2004 and 2005 on one of their road bikes which showed that they might be a chain store but their kit is good.

Whilst browsing in my lunch break today I became drawn to their “Pave Collection” t-shirt.

Decathlon Pave Collection t-shirt £17.99

Anything with any sort of Flemish lion on it finds its way into my basket without any questions asked. This was no different and the deal was sealed even more emphatically with the news that a portion of the sales value of the t-shirt will be donated to the “Friends of Paris-Roubaix“. This will go towards the fantastic work they do to preserve the sectors of cobbles.

With no race in 2020, this money will be even more eagerly anticipated. So get shopping!

Click here.

When mine arrives, I will review it and let you know what I think.

2021 in Beers of Belgium CC

Welcome to 2021 and Beers of Belgium.

I would love to say we have big plans for the page this year but I am not sure the Covid pandemic will allow that.

more in garage cycling…

However, despite all of the challenges we face right now I am determined to enjoy the cycling season and sup some beers doing it.

I hope that will be along for the ride !

My Rouvy experience – update

Regular readers of the blog will remember that back at the end of 2020 I lost patience with the Tacx app and moved over to Rouvy for my winter training. You can read about my break up with them here.

Despite the influence of a major company like Garmin at the helm their app felt empty of riders and lacked a racing and community feel.

I didn’t have the correct hardware to run Zwift or RGT so its android app (powered by Bluetooth) left Rouvy the sole option.

Having said that my first impressions were good, it didn’t feel like the best of a bad lot and after getting up a level in the career structure by mid December I was ready for my first race.

That was a really good experience, and you can find out how I got on by clicking here.

And so my life and lockdown rolled on with me hauling myself up the Stelvio and taking part in the GCN Cheddar Gorge challenge.

It’s not all been perfect though and my advice to Rouvy is that there are still some fundamentals to work on and make better to improve the experience.

I entered a race last Wednesday evening but the app was so slow opening and then loading me into the event the other riders were gone.

It was only by 30 seconds so I hit the pedals to try and catch up. The app crashed. I reloaded (taking three minutes to get me back to the start line) and then 3 minutes into the ride and a way off the back of the peloton it crashed again.

Game over.

I did check the Facebook page for Rouvy members and it appeared I wasn’t the only one to have issues with that race but I found that in the days after that I couldn’t get back online.

I get that there are snags with software but Rouvy isn’t free so I do expect good service as much as possible.

It’s important to note that since last week an update has been put in the Google Play store and I have found the stability a lot better since then.

I have been using top down map view as opposed to AR in the main though.

But hey, I am nitpicking over some issues that were frustrating for a few days but in the context of being able to ride and race whilst in lockdown I am not going to complain.

Give it a try!

2021 Procycling Stats game launched

Regular readers of the site will know that I was a keen player of this game across 2020.

The purpose being you buy and trade pro riders with their price going up and down based on performance. You get money by their share price going up and from prizes, but of course there is the risk your rider tanks and their value goes down.

#RiderPurchase priceCurrent rider priceDays on teamAnalyze
1 VAN AERT Wout€ 955.000,-€ 955.000,-0Analyze
2 ALAPHILIPPE Julian€ 940.000,-€ 940.000,-0Analyze
3 VAN DER POEL Mathieu€ 910.000,-€ 910.000,-0Analyze
4 SAGAN Peter€ 800.000,-€ 800.000,-0Analyze
5 HIRSCHI Marc€ 680.000,-€ 680.000,-0Analyze
6 BARDET Romain€ 464.000,-€ 464.000,-0Analyze
7 DE GENDT Thomas€ 208.000,-€ 208.000,-0Analyze

Here are my riders for the early week of the season based on my initial EUR 5m outlay.

With the early part of the season (should it happen to plan) being week long stage races and one day classics I am looking at riders who have those skills to bring me in some cash.

My strategy being that once the Giro comes around I will be able to sell a couple of these for a profit or add to my line up with their prize money gains.

Its incredible to say it but Peter Sagan looks my biggest gamble at EUR 800k. He needs to get a spring classic win to justify my outlay on him or do something in a race like Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico.

Right, that’s enough clues as to how I am going to make some money, you can create your own teams here… https://www.procyclinggame.com/home

Tough day in Tier 4

Windy, flat and cold… it was a ride of 2 halves!

Having been consigned to the garage and the turbo for most of the festive period I took advantage of being in a single tier Covid area and headed out yesterday.

It’s very unusual to have any sort of northerly wind in this part of the world, even in the winter months. When they do arrive however, they are icy and strong with gusts that go through even the most costly of cycle clothing.

I set out at first light getting out of town before going alongside the A15 on the cycle way. It was like tacking out into the wind (as the chart above shows!) before the long straight through Tongue End to Pode Hole.

At this point I could see a sheet of some sort of precipiation coming across the fields to my left and as I made the most northerly point of my ride, it started to sleet.

I felt confident that once I got through Spalding and headed back down the farm tracks I would be able to outrun it.

Nice early season confidence!

As I cut onto Cradge bank to head for home the cold eased slightly and the back wind was most welcome.

I even got a Strava PB for the first stretch of the track !

The cold returned when I got close to the river bank and it was a real relief to get sight of home and head onto the cycle path back into the Deepings. There were a few big spots of something falling from the clouds for the last mile but I led a charmed life and avoided the biggest showers.

As usual at this time of year, it took almost as long to clean my bike as ride it, but I was happy to get a coffee and get “Wout” all shiny and sparkly.

Not the longest or hardest ride I will ever do, but it was nice to get 2021 off and running out on the roads.