The plan was to ride in Ypres on Saturday and in Zonnebeke on Sunday, not far from our Gusthouse. Last minute our plans changed and on Saturday we headed to a different race between Halle and Buizingen in the French speaking region.
Here's the evidence.
An early start on Saturday sees us heading for Calais via Dover.
A quick pick up outside the Docks in Dover. Luke Ryan of Team Toachim joined us this weekend.
The pro look. Finally, my make-shift number holder gets used. Wingnuts; the way forward.
Andy does a last minute bit of shaving. Such an amateur...
Our ore-race prep'
After a hectic couple of opening laps on Saturday, Dean and I found our way to the front of the race. I made an early jump to a break of 6 with Dan Patten. This was quickly caught but as expected, the counter-attack came - Dean and I once again found ourselves strung out and ahead of the chasing pack but only 20 minutes in, my race was ended when somebody in our front group swerved to avoid a speed bump and took out my front wheel. Luckily held it up, but this was the end of my race.
An unimpressed sweeper-van driver stood back as I vented my frustration at the Comissaire - apparently I couldn't join the race again regarldess of the circumstances.
Luckily the next 2 hours weren't spent in anger - As we were in the French speaking region, I was able to make conversation with the locals and was hospitably offered coffee in a local bar. I was however warned that I'd struggle to communicate with the locals on Sunday (over the border in Wallone) - understanding the lingo will be 'tres dure.'
Dan Patten showing us how it's done.
Wojciech Szlachta finishing strongly within the top 30.
That evening, we made our way to Ypres. I managed to find some family heritage recorded on the Menin Gate.
Sunday's race was always going to be hard. The weather was a lot more windy and the course very exposed. Narrow road and a big field of over 140 riders meant that we'd have to fight our way to the front of the race.
We found ourselves racing alongside riders from the QuickStep and Rabobank feeder Teams - and fellow British Team V02: Development were there in force with strong finishes from Francis Cade, Harry Evans and Lawrence Carpenter. It was great to see Dan Bennett and his Team testing the water abroad.
Luke Ryan finished within the top 60. His performance proved to be the strongest from our group in Belgium on Sunday.
A learning experience this weekend.