Liege Bastogne Liege 2013 Report Part 1

By Brian Kilbride
Four club members, me, Bren, Dermot and Kevin headed to La Doyenne this year to test ourselves on one of the route of the oldest classic of them all. Seamus from Limerick sniffed out the possibility of an armchair ride through the Ardennes on Tiernan’s rear wheels and signed up as well.

We flew out to Brussels and then train to Liege. We stayed in a hotel across the road from the futuristic Guillemins Station 2 Km from the centre of Liege and couldn’t recommend it more highly for the purposes of a weekend such as this. The hotel was packed with Spanish, Italian,English and German cyclists.

The Registration and departure point for the Sportif was up at the top of the city , 5km and 100m above us . We picked up all the registration forms and met up for pre-dinner drinks and a meal in one of the quirkier father and son run Bistros you could come across. All were a little nervous about what to expect. We discussed the route and the strategy and the bail out routes. On the way home there were stations at 140,160 180 and 200 Km. It looked a simple out and back loop on the website, and we were all feeling reasonably confident in the amount of training that we had put in.

It was raining and cold as we walked back to the hotel and most were in bed by 10 or 11.

The usual morning engorgement of mueseli and yogurt and indestructible continental UHT continental style milk was completed without enthusiasm. We assembled at 0630, pottered around for a bit and were on the road 15 minutes later. We took a short cut to the start and promptly got lost but were back on to the main Place St Lambert, site of the depart for the pros, and on up the hill again to the sports centre. We never did make the official start area as we were directed on to the route and without knowing it we were on our way without so much as a photo or silent decade to mark the occasion.
It was overcast, 3 degrees and a bit of a north wind was at our back. We were not overrun by cyclists as we made our way across the industrial neighbourhoods and wastelands that is a run down coal and steel town. Eventually after a few red lights a reasonable size bunch was emerging and nipping along at about 30kph.

Seamus had his first mechanical around 40 minutes in, the chain slipping between the spokes and biggest plate at the back. The countryside we were emerging into was hilly and wooded and would interspersed with small villages with not much going on and farm land. We would ascend and descent 2 and 3 km long hills again and again. After 40 Km a nail punctured my front and myself and Seamus were again separated further from the others. We reassembled in the first feed station at 50 km. There was a Mavic service vehicle to sort out Seamus’s gears and ample waffles both toffee filled and standard, with energy drinks and oranges and bananas.

Check back tomorrow at 1pm for part 2

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