Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!
This is it! We are really into the thick of it now! E3 Harelbeke is today, and on Sunday we have the Kemmelberg in Gent Wevelgem – the first real serious cobbled race of the year. For Keeper’s Tour in 2012 we stayed just outside Kemmel, and for KT2013 Bretto and I went off for a jetlag-neutralizing spin together into the same area and rode the climb from both sides. When I arrive in Belgium on Thursday, the first thing we’ll do is head over there again; the area feels a bit like home at this point.
All of Europe bears the marks of World War I, but this bit of Belgium is even more heavily scarred; when this many people die in one place, it lingers in the air like a thick mist. This hill in particular was the site of several battles; the Germans took it in April 1918 and it was reclaimed by the allied forces in September. Monuments, graveyards, barracks litter the landscape.
Although its short, the Kemmelberg is a brute of a climb with a steep ramp at the top; the cobbles are rough and very badly laid at the base; the best route has you swinging wide to the outside if you’re to maintain your speed. If you are unlucky enough to be forced into the inside, you will come to a standstill and find yourself chasing from the onset.
And speaking of chasing, its time to get some points on the board with the VSP so you have a chance of claiming one of our prizes. Get your picks in by the time the clock goes to zero. And for the love of Merckx, don’t wait until the last minute before flooding my inbox with complaints about the site going down. Your procrastination is not my emergency, boys and girls. But if you do happen to have some trouble (and it’s not the last minute, or the middle of the night) then feel free to let us know; we’re happy to help you out so long as the event hasn’t closed yet. So, prognosticate on the start list and enter your sure-to-be dud picks.
We are still finalizing the prize list for the overall VSP, but second place has been confirmed as being a set of CR Wheelworks/Velominati wheels. CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s wheel product line, and you’ll have the choice of rim size and hub. The Velominati edition comes with orange Chris King hubs, but if that’s too bling for you, I’m sure the configuration can be changed for the winner.
First prize will be something even more amazeballs and third place will be a full Velominati kit complete with V-Cap. My wheels just arrived, and I can’t wait to ride them.
And, we’ll wrap it up with some 2013 Gent action: