The road to Oude Kwaremont surprises me. It appears to be a nasty uphill one. Typical, I really don’t remember that. The only thing I can remember is the fight going on right here, on this small winding road, to get in the right position. Two years ago girls literally bashed each other with their elbows, shoulders, and hips when these were the first cobbles we hit in Ronde van Vlaanderen for women.
Apparently, we also rode uphill. I really didn’t notice it back then. But now I’m already panting like an old horse and my wheels haven’t even touched one cobblestone yet. The moment we ride onto the cobbles, I feel my fingers. So sore. Every single phalanx is painful due to the shaking and bouncing on the cobbles we already left behind.
I toil and roil, but I’ve got the feeling my wheels will get stuck after every single cobble. My bike bounces around, my saddle hits my buttocks ceaselessly. Ouch. I reposition my hands from the middle of the handlebars to the sides. And back. Nothing feels comfortable. At the steepest parts of Oude Kwaremont I almost come to a standstill. I growl.
The 2,2 km seems endless. Finally at the top, we stop for a short while. To eat and drink. For this is only the reconnaissance of Ronde van Vlaanderen. At a low pace. It’s just a training.
If you hit the cobbles in the peloton at high speeds, full of adrenaline, it feels so much easier compared to this shaking and bouncing. Every piece of sloping asphalt you don’t even notice in the peloton feels like a real climb right now. Halfway during the recon my legs are sore, my fanny is in agony, and I really don’t want to feel cobbles under my wheels anymore.
The Ronde van Vlaanderen will be a hard race. Superhard – but so beautiful. With good legs you fly over the cobbles, which makes you feel like Wonder Woman. Pain in fingers and fanny; you don’t even feel it. When we start to climb the horrid Paterberg I feel broken and I can’t stop thinking: reconnaissances are so much harder than the real thing.