Tour of Flanders 2013 – Part 2

An account of our adventures in Flanders 2013 by Mick Dempsey

SSo, the next morning we met up in the main square in Bruges at 6.50am. With Brian’s advice ringing in our ears, we had stuffed snickers, nutri bars, assorted pieces of fruit cake and anything other energy-rich product we could find in our pockets. I would estimate that, in normal circumstances, the amount of food I was carrying as I left the hotel would probably suffice to stave off death by malnourishment for a family of four for a period of five-seven days. Dean’s mobile Patisserie hanging out of the back pocket of his cycling jacket gave the amusing effect of a child wearing a nappy. Obviously this was not remarked further over the course of the day.

It was extremely cold at the beginning, the temperature gauge on my computer read -1. There had been a lot of discussion about layers – safe to say that ultimately I think everyone decided it was best to wear every item of cycling clothing they had brought with them. The average number of layers, if memory serves, was six, though I think Emmet may have hit eight at one stage before he decided to lose the corset and the thermal duffle overlayer, due to restrictions in moving his arms laterally.

We met up with Brian, Dave and Seamus at the start. Some craic was had when an eager guy from Belgian TV noticed out inelegant bike-posturing and random GAA-inspired yelps as we stood waiting for the other Tiernan’s man Cormac to join us. He spotted Siobhán and asked her to do an interview. Trying his best to encourage the rest of us to feck off out of the shot, the interview commenced.

The Flandrians really are interested in people making the effort to travel from oversees to participate in what is the marquee event on the Flandrian sporting calendar, and something that, not unlike GAA at home, seems to traverse the sporting and cultural worlds. In fairness to Siobhán, she gave the man what he wanted, and what all of Flanders wanted presumably, telling him we had come all the way from Ireland, because “it’s the Tour of Flanders, and in Ireland, we think this is the greatest of all the classics…”. Ah yeah. I have fond memories of my Da extolling the virtues of Flanders over Lombardy or Milan-San Remo over the years growing up – it was always a hot debate in North Mayo.

Anyways, media duties dispensed with and having decided to try to meet up with Cormac who was running late on the road, Brian gently suggested it might now be time to think about riding our bikes. Off we moved, with some more GAA-hollering and random fist pumps, and we were on the road.
The first 10 kilometres were uneventful – flat roads taking us south out of Bruges. We got separated from Brian at around this point as he stopped to make a phone call. It was at this time also that Dave and Seamus pulled ahead – the Flandrian vets not wasting anytime and making the most of the flat roads and good surfaces to get some mileage down. That was the last we saw of them till I met them on the train back to Bruges later that day.

Part 3 will be posted Thursday 18th at 13:00

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