Tour of Flanders – Preview


Next weekend Team Dulux are off to Flanders.  On Saturday we will be riding the Tour of Flanders Cyclosportive, and on Sunday watch the professional peloton show us how it’s really done in the Elite Mens Tour of Flanders.

If you have ever fantasized about biking in Belgium, know this: Riding on cobbles is a painful, brutalizing business, like saddling up a jackhammer.

Saturday – Cyclosportive

Some reviews:

Should you be interested in following our progress, the organisers website has in previous years had live video coverage and the possibility to follow riders by their number (mine is 18263).  You should be able to watch us struggling up the classic cobbled climbs of Flanders.

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Please support us, and The Outward Bound Trust, by sponsoring me.  I’m riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats in September to raise money for The Outward Bound Trust.

Sunday – Elite Mens Ronde van Vlaanderen

The Elite Mens race will be on TV (Eurosport is the best bet), but in case you don’t have that and want to follow the race, it is possible online (here and here).  Who will win? Cancellara, Boonen, or Stannard (it would be great if Ian Stannard could win).

The Great War

On a more sombre note, this is the 100 year anniversary of The Great War that transformed the fields of Flanders.  Plenty of informative events going on.

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By John McCrae, May 1915…

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Just on 12 March, Liz and I went to see “Birdsong” the play of the book by Sebastian Faulks:

A novel of overwhelming emotional power, Birdsong is a story of love, death, sex and survival. Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman, arrives in Amiens in northern France in 1910 to stay with the Azaire family, and falls in love with unhappily married Isabelle. But, with the world on the brink of war, the relationship falters, and Stephen volunteers to fight on the Western Front. His love for Isabelle forever engraved on his heart, he experiences the unprecedented horrors of that conflict – from which neither he nor any reader of this book can emerge unchanged.

Knowing relatively little about World War I, this play was powerful in its portrayal of life in the trenches.  Pretty sombre stuff.  We’re privileged to live in peaceful times (at least here), and owe a debt of thanks to the brave folk who fought in these wars.