Het Nieuwsblad ~ Passage Fitness

Overall Distance 15k Time Taken 18 minutes
Height Climbed 25 metres Overall Position flat on back
Distance Climbed   Category Position clavicule chute
Date April, 2010 Country Belgium
Entrants 3,500 Region Flanders

First sportive of the season and it's our annual pilgrimage to Flanders for cycling at it's purest and best.  

Classic climbs, fantastic food and great people all make for a perfect weekend.  The only thing that can make it better is cobbles; and there's loads of them.  So off we set for another adventure.

Location Location
The night before the event we decided to prep up and find the race start.  We put "velodrome" into the Tom Tom and was taken a kilometre down the road from the hotel. 

Sat outside the velodrome it was obvious that this wasn't it.  No flags, no bunting, no arches.  However, it was 50 metres from the start of the Het Volk sportive we did a few years back.  This was held at the local cycling club's club house, so we new we were in the right area. 

We drove through the only exit to the velodrome car park, to head out past the BMX track and back on to the main road.  Only to find the race start not by the 400 metre indoor track but in front of the Eddy Merckx indoor 250 metre track.  This really is cycling heaven.  Two indoor tracks inside the same sports complex!

What chance do we stand?Game On
Next morning we went through the usual pre-event routine and got ready for the off. 

Dianne was to begin ahead of me as she was talking the 80k route while I was up for the full 150k.  Some youngsters from the "race school" were warming up alongside us (see right).  The bike's heavier than him!  What chance do we stand when youngsters this small have talent and support in abundance?

Undeterred, we set off with a spring in our step and me with a tear in my eye.  It's Spring, it's Belgium and we're cycling.  There is no better feeling than crashing over the Flandrian kaissen at the start of a season.  Unless, of course, you're descending in the Alps, climbing in the Pyrennees or roulering in Italy.  So much to do...

Anyway, to cut a long story short; after 12k, Dianne got caught in a pinch point as a pack of faster riders caught her group just as they entered a roundabout.  Her front wheel got swiped and down she went, her collar bone snapping under the impact.  As usual she was attended to by a group of new (middle-aged male) friends. 

A few minutes later I'm haring up the road to see a big man pushing a small bike, which I thought was odd.  Then I saw a petite (ish!) lady walking alongside with that dreaded drooped shoulder.  Ooh, that's got to hurt I thought.  Then I saw a loose flamme rouge sleeve forlornly flapping in the wind. 

Game Over
The police man at the roundabout put Dianne in the back of his car and we called the organisers to arrange an ambulance.  He gave her a bottle of water and returned to his point duty,  I sat in the front of the car and tried to entertain Dianne by wondering what all the switches and knobs did.  She smiled as only wives can.

It was just a mask.  The trauma was too great, it wasn't funny, it wasn't clever and it was getting really uncomfortable.  But for a scouser sitting in a police car is like being a turkey the week before Christmas.  In the nick of time the ambulance arrived.  I was in such a state they thought it was me that needed the treatment.  However the sign of further official uniforms made me retreat quickly.

Dianne was quickly diagnosed.  A judicious medical prod in the shoulder area and few Geordie words of confirmation (you can imagine) led to a collar and stretcher being prepared.  As she was being fed in to the ambulance she asked "is my bike alright?"  It brought a lump to my throat.  I was about to reply, "where have you stashed our offshore funds" but the door slammed shut and the sirens blared. 

The Mavic Service Corse vehicle arrived to pick up her Colnago.  Dianne left in one direction, her bike back to the start in another.  A further tear was shed; but I think it was mine.  Seeing her Colnago on top of the car was bad enough; me having to ride back while everyone else was riding out was even worse!

I now had to make my own way back to the start, to complete a full 25k for the weekend.  It was then back to the hotel and find the hospital with my trusty Tom Tom.  Which I did in around an hour.  Just in case, I took my copy of ProCycling, as I suspected a long day was in the offing.

However the Belgian medical team had other ideas.  Within an hour and a half of being put in the ambulance, we were back at the race HQ picking up her bike, thanking the organiser, getting a bite to eat and having our photo taken.  What stars.

Grateful Thanks
Our first thanks go to the group of lads that stopped immediately to help Dianne as she hit the deck.  The hospital staff and police were fantastic as were the people at the Europa Hotel.  Especially the dark haired girl, who looked after Dianne and kept referring to me as the "little devil in a box!" 

Nothing was too much trouble for anyone.  And we'll be back next year for sure; to finish off our unfinished business.

Also thanks to all the readers and subscribers to the website from literally around the world that sent in messages of support.  Dianne's on the mend now and she's getting ready for our epic events later in the year by riding the turbo.  At least she can't fall off.


Omloop Passage Fitness


Europa Hotel