Monday, April 08, 2013

Ronde Van Vlaanderen: Citizens Ride 2013

Fields of Flanders

My bro and my father ready to do battle
My new jewelry 

There have a been few events that I have had to sit out in my life.  Most of them I could take or leave.

However this time it hurt more than most.

The day before the big Flanders race there is the BIG RIDE in Flanders.  It is called the Ronde Van Vlaanderen.

It was an amazing scene.  Nearly 15,000 riders hit the cobbles for this tour.

I would put the passion on par with Nordic skiing in Norway and it was something to behold.  All that uttered though I would much rather have experienced it on a bike versus on foot, arm in a sling and hauling my camera gear over a single shoulder.

Canals and Cobbles
I stumbled along a big chunk of the course around Oudenaarde.  We only had one vehicle and moving it was obviously going to be problematic.

So I took one for the team and walked a couple Klicks into the city and started humping towards scenic spots on the course as it wound its way around and through the small town.

The weather was cold and blustery but semi clear as far the clouds were concerned.  Good shooting day, but after an hour or so I was ready to come inside.  As chance would have as I was walking by a bike shop called Asfra, the owner waved me in with a friendly smile.  Was it that obvious?

Not much english was spoken but it did not need to be.  It was immediately obvious that bike shops were bike shops, especially in the mechanics department....... it was hard not to snap away.

15,000 riders literally out the door and after sitting in there for 45 minutes I never saw a dime exchanged.

Cycle wrenches.  The same the world over.

Work bench Asfra

Angels and inspirations
Once I left the shop I felt much, much more motivated.

I have traveled the world, mostly in a way that was linked to a sport I am passionate about and I have always found that despite language, distance, lifestyle, economics or politics, the sports themselves seal the deal.  We have a connection and a respect and I found that burning ember at the bike shop that morning.

I knew the trip would be all right after that interaction.

Up and out of Oudenaarde

Old and moldy 
I literally walked up and out of Oudenaarde and was heading for a section of Cobblestone to photograph.

One minute I was in a teaming village, the next I was nearly alone walking through freshly fertilized fields......A mistake I have only made ONCE.

I was hoofing it so far and so fast I thought I could cut across one of the many fields there and immediately smelled the fact that it was not going to happen and retreated.  The scenery however was staggering.  I could have shot there for days and most likely should have returned during the Pro Race the next day.
Right turn at the Manure Pile please
The Ravens of Flanders
After walking for what seemed forever and shooting through all my cards and my batteries I began the long slog back to the City Center.  My dad and my brother had estimated a return time and I was nearly in violation of it.  Upon my return I ran into my brother, beaming and proud at his time and effort on the course.

He rode it well and had a great time, cleaning every major Cobble climb.  My father however was about 2 hours back.  Something he should be proud of as both Aran I were of him.  The Tour of Flanders course is not an easy thing for anybody and yet he rode all the hills but one.  As jealous as I was of their success it was hard not to be infected by their stoke, and of course I had pulled a few good images as well.
Belgian bike fuel

1 comment:

Andrea Joy said...

That first photo is one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen. That sky is epic. Epic..