So it’s nearly time. All the training, all the preparation. It all comes to a head on Saturday 21st April in Belgium. A quiet week beforehand, no more big rides. Just a couple of low tempo, easy outings. Stretch the legs a little.
Just the one target this year, not like last year. And one that has been kindly supported by so many. So I had better get it right. Or get to the end intact at least! No targets for times or anything. Perhaps just a sneaking desire to climb some of those famous slopes a little more quickly this year. Taking the descents at a higher speed is no target, so slow that a tortoise would have overtaken me….
No matter. Speed is not the target. It’s going to be a special day on the bike. I know what to expect, know it will be hard. Last year’s was the hardest day I have had on the bike so far. Hopefully the weather will be a little easier in 2018 but that just cannot be counted on. Maybe I would not like it too hot? No pleasing some….
Whatever happens, it will be a day surrounded by myths. The famous climbs. I have named them before but why not name them again?
Ancienne-Barrière. Haute Levee. Cote de Rosier. Roche-aux-Faucons.
Magical names, wrapped in legends.
And Cote de la Redoute.
Cote de la Redoute.
If you don’t know much about cycling, I will just ask you to accept this. Getting to the top of Redoute without getting off last year was just….. something. Fit healthy guys getting off and guy with MS staying on all the way to the top. Yes! Take that, fit people!
Sorry, I can get competitive…… I am not perfect… Gives me a kick to be quicker….
I will never claim to be a great climber but I like it. I like the feeling in my legs which, let’s face it, don’t feel as much as they should sometimes. The reason why makes up a large chunk of this blog. It is difficult to describe without sounding dramatic but…. The feeling. The feeling. The legs are straining. So much better than feeling…. empty.
My legs are not quite so powerful as they maybe should be. Maybe that will get worse over time, maybe not; without a doubt I hope for the latter, I’ll be clear on that! But it makes moments like the climb of Redoute that much more special. To get to the top and not be the slowest? To pass the caravans all parked up for the professionals the next day? To pass over graffiti scrawled by supporters?
Just accept it from me, this is magical. Riding in the shadow of giants….. Merckx, Hinault….. Cote de la Redoute is the toughest climb in the toughest and oldest of all of the Classics, or one day cycling races. Other races are in it’s shadow. Finishing it leaves an amazing feeling, getting through all of the climbs and the descents and rolling up in Liege itself. Shattered, filthy.
I know I mention it a lot but…. to complete it is enough. To complete it with MS? So proud…. I will look forward to feeling that pride again towards the end of the afternoon next Saturday, 21st April.
I will be riding Liege-Bastogne-Liege to raise funds for MS Research – research for a cure and research for those who have this disease. Actions such as this fund the research that has helped me through the support it gives to research that is used by those who support ne. And others need that help. Take a look on my sponsorship page, any support is appreciated.