Liege Bastogne Liege 2013 Report Part 2

By Brian Kilbride
… continued from part 1

It was getting too cold to hang around so we departed in dribs and drabs and slowly assembled on the road. The turn off for the 160 km route was passed soon after and a worrying number were turning away . It seemed that we had missed the main crowds doing the big loop . Again relentless ascents and descents of the hills and dales continued. Imagine spending your day going up and down the easy side of the hill of Howth. The slight tailwind was barely appreciable but we were making steady progress to the turning point at Bastogne and spirits were high. The sun came out and there was a a long descent into La Roche en Ardenne, a beautiful little village with a customary American artillery scattered about the place. Seamus took it upon himself to run a red light and was chased after by a local policewoman in a squad car who finally got him to pull to the side and gave him an impassioned verbal dressing down.

The first of 11 categorized climbs was a long drag out of the town for a few kilometers, nothing too difficult but leg sapping stuff.I was starting to fall off the pace set by the other lads and slowly let them slip off into the distance. I was starting to have a few doubts about how the day was panning out. I was about to turn into a north wind , I had 100 K and 1500m climbing in my legs. It was still cold.

On to Bastogne and the second feed station at 100K past the old American military barracks and scattered ordinance. About 50 were at the feed station. We headed out at and I was already saying my goodbyes should I slip quietly out the back door. The lads were trucking along nicely, Seamus to be fair to him was giving as good as he got. I was working harder than I should have been to hold the wheel and I could sense that I was about to be in for a long day. we were four hours in and I was trying to work out why I was feeling like I was . We were now into a north wind of 10-15 kph The 2nd cote was picture post card Cote de Saint Roche- about a kilometer long and steep- 20 % at it’s worst. We regrouped for a photo at the top. It would be the last time I would see them. I pootled along up and down at a reduced pace, into the lowest gear up the long drags and rolling it trying to regroup on the descents.

There was a long 5 km section to a wind farm on the horizon that never seemed to end. At 150 k in Vielsalm I was cooked. I started to look seriously at my situation. I needed a coke. I bumped into some fellow sufferers who shared some ham and cheese sandwiches and bananas, My stomach was just about tolerating food at this stage. Was I dry, was I under eating, was I over geared, had I gone out too fast . I was looking at 120 ks to home and a significant chunk of climbing . My first temptation was survived as I left the train station on the way out of town.
On to the Cote de Wanne- uncomfortable, at a snails pace, just barely avoiding cramp, but beautiful were you not in such a state. I did not notice the monument to Merckx, at the last corner coming over the top. Fast descent out of the forest at the top and down to Stavelot.

Check back tomorrow at 1pm for part 3

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