Het Nieuwsblad ~ Passage Fitness
sportive of the season and it's our annual pilgrimage to Flanders for
cycling at it's purest and best.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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 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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.