Riding Flanders!

Well it has been quite a while since the Tour of Flanders happened, but finally life has settle down for me to write about my experience in Belgium. For those of you that didn’t hear I had an incredible opportunity to travel to Antwerp, Belgium to Lazer Helmets headquarters and to participate in the Sportif ride the day before the race, not to mention also watching the race in person.
I arrived in Antwerp jet lagged and weary on Friday morning April 1st and headed to my hotel. I was greeted by Rebecca from Quality Bicycle Products and joined a group of bike shop employees and owners on a walk to Lazer Headquarters. We arrived and were greeted by the staff of Lazer Helmets. We were given last years Katusha Team Ridleys to set up for our ride on Saturday. After we felt comfortable with our bike fits, Sean one of the owners of Lazer, took us out on a shake down ride through Antwerp. The ride was amazing, bike lanes everywhere and even bicycle specific crossing lights. We probably were a menace zooming in and out of traffic with Sean leading the way, but nobody honked or yelled at us. The ride was around twenty miles and felt great after spending ten plus hours traveling. We returned to the hotel and went out for an awesome dinner at a restaurant/bar complete with Frites and mayonaise!
Saturday we awoke at 5 a.m. for breakfast and loading up our bikes to head to Ninove for the start of the De Ronde, the tourist ride on the Tour of Flanders course. Twenty thousand people participate in the ride and we had to park three miles from the start, it was amazing to head over to the beginning of the ride with a thousand people. The route I chose was 140km and it included most of the famous cobbled climbs as well as several flat cobble sections. The first 25km (I was in Europe so I turned my GPS to Metric) we road surround by legions of cyclist, it was crazy, to make it even more challenging the roads are only about as wide as two golf cart paths. The first section of cobbles came up on us out of the blue. The novelty of riding cobblestones wore off fast, it is painful and I have even more respect for pro riders who can hold ridiculous speeds on them. Me personally I dropped my speed by 5mph each time I came upon a section. It wasn’t until the final time I was on the cobbles that I finally said, forget you, and let it fly it still hurt really bad! Our first climb was the Patenberg which is a 20.3% grade. The real challenge of the climbs were the droves of people on them. I was able to make it half way up until a group of four fell over like dominoes across the climb. I had to walk up the rest of the climb and that confirmed that walking up a cobbled climb with road cycling shoes and cleats is harder than riding up it. Bummed, but not discouraged, I ventured on the next climb the Koppenberg. The max grade was 22% and believe me I felt every bit if it. By the second big climb of the ride we organized groups at the base of the hill so we could try and ride the it in waves. I headed up towards the front of a group and we began our ascent. The climb was brutal and you needed to stay seated to keep weight on the rear wheel to keep from spinning your tires on the polish cobbles. The pace started to slow and the rider in front of me fell over, I avoided him and looked ahead and the Koppenberg was mine. Not one person was in front of me and I road to the top and savored riding such a historic hill of the Classics. The scenery for the ride was beautiful and I enjoyed riding and just taking in the beautiful countryside. We road a total of 11 climbs incudling the Kapelmuur and Vosenberg.  To ride to the top of the Muur with the chapel was divine, the sacred ground of the Flanders race.  The final 12km of the ride into the finish is rolling and fast it is no wonder that riders that have a gap on the peloton make it to the finish if they are ahead at the climbs. If you get a chance it is a must to participate in the Sportif ride.
Race day was the second most exciting part of my trip. Another early morning gave us a Russian breakfast on the bus, we were all scared of what it was going to be, but it actually was fine pretty standard.  However a vodka toast at 9 a.m. and some interesting appetizers made up for it. The Katusha team took care of us shuttling us around in a luxury bus for the day. We were able to see the paddock where all of the team buses parked before the race, talk about cool product overload. The bikes were fantastic, electronic shifting everywhere. We missed the start, but we did see the race pass by three times, and the best part was seeing the peloton chase down Cancellara and Chavanel on the Muur, the Belgians went crazy when Boonen charged by us. We were spoiled in our tent with televisions all around us, not to mention the beer and food. That is the way to watch a Classics race! I am in the process of posting pictures on our Flickr site. Feel free to stop by, I would love to tell you all about the trip. A big thank you to Todd and Anne for allowing me the time to get away.

The Bike Lane Junior Rider Program begins

It’s that time of year again.  Spring has sprung and it’s time to get your kid off the couch, dust off the bike, and go for a ride.   Join The Bike Lane for our weekly Junior Mountain Bike Rides on Monday evenings.  Over the last 4 years The Bike Lane has been offering weekly rides at Wakefield Park for any kid 8 and up (younger ones  are welcome but must be accompanied by a parent).  This year we are excited that we will also be adding Lake Fairfax, in Reston into the mix of trail rides.

The group varies in age and ability so we typicallly split up into 2-3 groups.  The kids have a blast riding the single track at Wakefield.  Not only do they get to enjoy the great outdoors but they learn a lot about themselves.  There are always new challenges on the trail that allow them to try new skills or work harder than they might be used to.  It is pretty cool to see the kids cheering each other on when they clear a creek crossing or go over a log that they thought was “Way too big!”.


The Bike Lane also has a Junior Race Team that meets on Wednesday evenings at Wakefield.    The kids learn new skills and work on racing technique. We also encourage all riders to become stewards of the trail and become MORE members.   There are about 10-15 regular riders and we expect to see more this year.  Learn more about our Monday Night rides and our Junior Mountain Bike Team.  And then come join us on the trails!

Feel free to email anne@thebikelane.com with any questions.

Be AMYzing Reston Youth Triathlon

The Bike Lane is proud to sponsor Amy’s Amigoes for their first annual Youth Triathlon.  We are so impressed with all of the work and effort Amy’s friends have put forth in memory of Amy and in support of such an important cause.  We are also very excited to be a part of getting kids getting into the sport of triathlon.    Please read below what Amy’s Amigoes are all about and support this much needed research.

We could not have written this any better, so it is directly from the Reston Youth Triathlon website.

The sport of triathlon has grown tremendously over the last few years.  While most participants are adults, a growing number of children are testing their athletic spirit in triathlon  Reston is one of the premier triathlon communities in the area with both highly successful Olympic and sprint distance triathlon  With the long standing Reston Triathlon of 27 years and the Reston Sprint Triathlon of four years, the missing link is a children’s triathlon.  But now, Amy Amigos will make the connection.

The Reston Youth Triathlon, Be AMYazing! inaugural event will be held on Sunday, May 22, 2011.  The triathlon is sponsored by Amy’s Amigos in conjunction with The Core Foundation. Amy’s Amigos is currently a South Lakes High School club, who focuses on raising money for brain cancer research and empowering young adults to live fit and have fun.  Amy’s Amigos formed in 2008 in memory of Amy Boyle, a sixth grader who lost her battle with brain cancer.  Inspired by Amy’s spirit, athleticism and love of life, Amy’s Amigos has participated in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life for the past three years and held numerous fund raising activities to raise more than $24,000 since it’s inception.  The proceeds from Reston Youth Triathlon, Be AMYazing! will go to the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation.

A recent update:

Amy’s Amigos Help Fund Cancer Breakthrough

February 2011 brought good news to families who follow the development of research on diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas, the rare brain tumor that took the life of Amy Boyle in 2008 and sparked the beginning of Amy’s Amigos.  Since Amy’s death, Amy’s Amigos has raised money to help Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF) fund research on pontine gliomas.  The result of grants from CBTF and others to Stanford University in 2010 has been the first real breakthrough in understanding the origin of pontine gliomas.  To see the article published by Stanford School of Medicine, go to http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2011/february/pontine.html

Also, below is the process for Bike Lane fans to make a donation to the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation.

1)  Go to http://childhoodbraintumor.org/
2)  Click on the “Give Online”, bluish/purple oval
3)  Fill out donation form and then in the box marked “2 Donation Information”, where it has “Program Area”, select “Event Donation” in the pull down box.  Then under comments write “Reston Youth Triathlon – The Bike Lane”