Liege Bastogne Liege 2013 Report Part 3
By Brian Kilbride
… continued from part 2
Temptation number two and the road to Trois Ponts and it’s train station. I stopped to gather my thoughts – there was still plenty of light- should I stop for a while to eat and rest. I pressed on. A sharp turn just at the bottom of the descent from the Cote de Wanne. – and straight up the Cote de Stockeu. The Rue Eddy Merckx sign at the bottom was probably deserving of a photo but I was lacking the mental capability. This was a nasty piece of road. I bumped into some English lads who shared some food with me an hour or so ago. They had lost 2 men. They shouted encouragement and I followed on and tried to get into some sort of rhythm. I was cramping and exhausted. Over the top eventually and descend back into Stavelot past the beginning of the climb I had just gone up- now that was taking the mickey.
For good measure they have cobbled the town centre of Stavelot. A leg sapping 500m leads on to the Haute Levee which heads straight up an uninviting dual carriageway out of town. It was unrelenting. About a kilometre up I climbed off. I was physically and mentally jaded. I had been going for over 8 hours , had close to 3000m in the legs and another 1700m of climbing and 100km of punishment staring me in the face. I was cramping and depressed. I could barely stomach any more waffles or gels. I contemplated my options and finally decided my day was done. The Train of Shame was calling and who was I to refuse. It was 5 k downhill to the nearest station which we had thoughtfully noted the previous evening. An hour long trip back in to Liege alone with ones thoughts and time for personal reflection. It was not a happy trip.
The lads all motored on together and finally made it in to the finish and back to the Hotel for 8:30 . I was waiting in a neighbouring bar. I had bumped into my English companions from earlier who had managed to knock off a few loops and limp home. The lads arrived in shattered but with a manly aura to them even though they were looking like they had given their all.
Recovery drinks of a barley and hopped nature started to lift weary limbs as everyone began to recount tales from an epic day.
Restaurants around the train station were packed with cyclists and tables were hard to come by so a Kebab a L’Anadalouse at the unsolicited recommendation some of the locals was delicious. We finished off the night with further reflections on the day and our hopes for the following day.
The general consensus from those who completed it was that it was the toughest thing they had ever done. The combination of the distance, the elevation gain and the early position in the season, increases the difficulty. I myself feel I probably underestimated it, got my training wrong, and then rode badly on the day. On checking my computer readouts after , my average heartrate was 130 but there were far too many spikes up into the red zone too early in the day and I ended up running out of matches. I got as much as I deserved. It probably is possible to do with 6 hours training a week- just, but you have to do everything right both in the lead up and on the day. It leaves me with a gnawing feeling that I should come back and do it properly next year, but I am not sure I would be able to manage it even armed with this years experience.
Check back tomorrow at 1pm for the final instalment