Gimmeeawheel!!!! I have a flat!

On the Road Again: Keepers Tour 2015

On the Road Again: Keepers Tour 2015

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We want to look like Pros, sure, but what we’re really after is feeling Pro. All the aesthetics are just a tool we use to fuel the fickle internal combustion engine of Morale. In the end, there is little that will make you feel Pro more than clattering along a stretch of cobbles in a small group; instant “select breakaway”. One of the magical things about the cobbles is the risk of crashing is always there, so your adrenaline is always pumping. The other magical thing about the cobbles is that you have to ride them full gas to smooth them out, which means you have the combination of bombing along a tooth-rattling road at full gas with adrenaline coursing through your veins like it’s New York in 1984. And then Johan Museeuw blows by in the gutter and now it’s a real party.

The most Pro you’ll ever feel, however, is clattering along the cobbles, feeling your back rim start to hit the stones and realize the worst: you’ve got a flat. You don’t have any tools; in fact you have nothing in your pockets at all. But fear not, you just swing off, do a cyclocross dismount while reaching for you back QR skewer which you unlatch right as your second foot hits the ground. A snap of the seatpost and the wheel comes loose. You hold it up in the air and the support van screeches to a halt as the mechanic jumps out with a fresh wheel. Moments later, you’re back on the street, in the non-prostitute sense.

This is Keepers Tour: Cobbled Classics. I’ve never had a flat on the cobbles, but I’ve seen it enough first-hand to attest to the above scenario. I also recognize that due to my hubris in mentioning the scenario, I will experience it firsthand this year.

Keepers Tour is back for 2015; based out of our Gite outside Lille, we’ll be crushing cobbles and watching the best races of the year in dust-covered front-row seats. Roubaix, Flanders, Wevelgem, we ride them all. Roubaix, Flanders, Scheldeprijs, we watch them all. This is an amazing time of year to be a Cyclist, and it’s the most magical time to be a Cyclist in Belgium. Our trip is 100% all-inclusive; get yourself to Lille and you will not need to spend a dime until you’re back in Lille nine days later.

The provisional agenda is below. Changes will likely be made but the basic agenda of major events will stay intact. All-inclusive cost for the full 9-Day Keepers Tour: Cobbled Classics 2015 is €3,250. A 50% deposit will be collected in January, with the balance due upon arrival in Lille. Register on the Keepers Tour: Cobbled Classics 2015 event page.

  • Friday April 3rd: Pick up at Gare Lille Europe train station
  • Saturday April 4th: Paris Roubaix 100km discovery ride
  • Sunday April 5th: Spectate Ronde Van Vlaanderen Pro race at De Oude Kwaremont
  • Mon April 6th: 3h Flanders discovery ride + visit Jaegher Bicycles Workshop (and Malteni brewery-time permitting).
  • Tue April 7th: Morning visit National bicycle museum at Roeselare + 3h Gent Wevelgem ride
  • April 8th: Morning at Gent Velodrome + Scheldeprijs Pro Race
  • April 9th: Paris-Roubaix ride with the Pros 150km from Troisvilles to Roubaix
  • April 10th: Recovery ride around the gîte + AG2R Pro Team meeting
  • April 11th: Tour of Flanders ride + RVV Museum visit
  • April 12th: Spectate Paris-Roubaix Pro race at Troisvilles, Arenberg and Carrefour de l’Arbre. Drop off at Lille Rail station or hotel in the evening

 

// Belgian Affirmations // Defining Moments // Keepers Tour // La Vie Velominatus // Look Pro

  1. @Chris

    @ChrisO I’m up for this as well. I’ve just emailed you on the subject.

    Definitely interested too.

  2. @Harminator If you live closer to the moon than Roubaix, like I do, then It’s a simple choice. Nothing makes you feel Pro than a new Grouppo and wheelset, enjoyed every other day. Then again I’d give my left testicle to go on this trip, just once. This is “My sort of riding”…

  3. @GogglesPizano

    Nice work, let me know how that plan comes along. What could possibly go wrong ?!?!?

  4. @brett

    @Harminator

    Keepers Tour or new record gruppo and HED stinger 5’s. Discuss.

    See you in Lille mate!

    Problem solved

  5. @Teocalli, @ChrisO, @Chris

    We won’t be doing a Cogal and no weekenders this time, unfortunately. You should all just come along for the trip and stop faffing about talking about half-measures.

  6. @Harminator

    Keepers Tour or new record gruppo and HED stinger 5’s. Discuss.

    I’m gonna patiently wait until the US$ is on par or better with the Euro and my Benjamins will carry some weight across the pond. Two more years and this little trip will cost a lot less on a US$ basis. In meantime, a new gruppo, HED Stingers AND a kit or two on top are a great idea. Or, one bad a** single speed mtn bike.

    Admittedly, this is the trip and ride(s) of a lifetime.

  7. @frank

    @Teocalli, @ChrisO, @Chris

    We won’t be doing a Cogal and no weekenders this time, unfortunately. You should all just come along for the trip and stop faffing about talking about half-measures.

    ” Do, or do not, there is no try ! “

  8. @Barracuda

    ” Do, or do not, there is no try ! ”

    Only if Yoda would have just said “What the fuck?”

  9. @unversio

    @Barracuda

    ” Do, or do not, there is no try ! ”

    Only if Yoda would have just said “What the fuck?”

    A particular favorite of mine is

    ” Offended you are ? A shit I don’t give ! ”

    No way in hell I’m going to be able to make the Keepers Tour so I wont kid myself on thinking I might.

    What an awesome trip, as others have said however.

  10. Hedrick Redant is so pro in this picture he’s “whale sharking ” standing still.

  11. Gents, Been eying this off for some time – really like to do it.

    Frank – Quick question – is it bring your own bike, or are the Cyfax bikes included in cost – if not what is the additional cost.

    Need to make some hard decisions!

  12. Not in the stars for me this year, but I am very much lookjng forward to reading about all the trouble you get yourselves into.

  13. @asyax

    Gents, Been eying this off for some time – really like to do it.

    Frank – Quick question – is it bring your own bike, or are the Cyfax bikes included in cost – if not what is the additional cost.

    Need to make some hard decisions!

    You can bring your own bike or ride one of the awesome Cyfacs at no extra cost. Once we pick you up you don’t need to get your wallet out for food, drinks (Malteni!), anything except souvenirs etc. We’d love to see you there! Places are filling quite fast already…

  14. I’d love to do this trip, but wont manage it this year (or for a few). One day.

  15. This is a depressing time of year. Once more a trip of epic proportions is planned and for another year I will pretend to um and aaah over the decision before reality hits and I recede back to my regular forays in to the Wiltshire countryside and watching the races on Eurosport. I will look for the updates with relish though..

    Now where did I leave that lottery ticket?…

  16. @Chris I’m in for a weekend junket defo!

  17. @rfreese888

    @Chris I’m in for a weekend junket defo!

    or not – seeing as how that option has been struck!! will prioritize the next one for sure.

  18. Yup, not in the stars this year, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be thrilled from home…

    Must a) buy a house b) build a proper bike house behind the house. I think I should be able to pull that off come spring 2015, which will make the VMH very happy…and smooth out the Domestic Cobbles in my life to allow me to plan for KT 2016/17.

    Still, this announcement gives me a great reason to plan a proper training schedule and get my slowing, fattening arse in gear.

  19. That option, on that route, on that date has been struck off.

    There is still a vague idea floating of a Caen – Cherbourg Cogal or similar for the late spring/summer.

    David

  20. @Ron Smoothing the Domestic Cobbles. Now there’s a lofty goal.

  21. absofuckinglutely epic! A pity my broke ass will just have to read about it, and gaze at photos I hope will be posted here in full post tour reports.

  22. @Harminator

    Keepers Tour or new record gruppo and HED stinger 5’s. Discuss.

    You’ll be able to buy material things for the rest of your llife. But you won’t always have the opportunity or ability for an experience like this.

    Sign up for the Tour now – buy stuff later.

  23. @wilburrox

    @Harminator

    Keepers Tour or new record gruppo and HED stinger 5’s. Discuss.

    I’m gonna patiently wait until the US$ is on par or better with the Euro and my Benjamins will carry some weight across the pond. Two more years and this little trip will cost a lot less on a US$ basis. In meantime, a new gruppo, HED Stingers AND a kit or two on top are a great idea. Or, one bad a** single speed mtn bike.

    Admittedly, this is the trip and ride(s) of a lifetime.

    The Euro is tanking already. It’ll be a screamin’ deal by the time you have to pony up the second half.

  24. @Bianchi Denti

    @Harminator

    Keepers Tour or new record gruppo and HED stinger 5’s. Discuss.

    You’ll be able to buy material things for the rest of your llife. But you won’t always have the opportunity or ability for an experience like this.

    Sign up for the Tour now – buy stuff later.

    This. Who knows even if another one will happen? Waiting for “next year” or “when the time is right” just never happens.

  25. So, only because I enjoy being ridiculed by complete strangers, I thought I’d ask some opinions. Surely, there must be an opinion out there somewhere? What are your thoughts on riding a fixie, or single speed (freewheel) over the cobbles? The question “Why Not?” kept me awake all night last night. GO!

  26. Can’t log in through the V-site – have sent an email to Frank saying I’ll be there – will this do?

    I need to go hunt me some pelts now to pay fer it all.

  27. @the Engine

    Can’t log in through the V-site – have sent an email to Frank saying I’ll be there – will this do?

    I need to go hunt me some pelts now to pay fer it all.

    You’re in mate…

  28. @Mike Hunn

    So, only because I enjoy being ridiculed by complete strangers, I thought I’d ask some opinions. Surely, there must be an opinion out there somewhere? What are your thoughts on riding a fixie, or single speed (freewheel) over the cobbles? The question “Why Not?” kept me awake all night last night. GO!

    Oh Mikey, why lug a fixie halfway across the world just for it to be thrown in the back of the van after the first secteur, never to be ridden again? (That’s if William, Alex and Frank even let it near the cobbles!)

  29. @Mike Hunn

    This is what it’ll look like when you’re being ridiculed by Frank…

  30. @Barracuda

    Hedrick Redant is so pro in this picture he’s “whale sharking ” standing still.

    That’s my favorite looking grouppo of all time, too; the Mavic SSC. Those hoods were so cool looking – they looked fast standing still! And that crank!

    (Not the right bike but that’s the right group set!)

  31. @the Engine

    Can’t log in through the V-site – have sent an email to Frank saying I’ll be there – will this do?

    I need to go hunt me some pelts now to pay fer it all.

    Oh come on. Surely Mrs Engine can save a few pennies out of her generous housekeeping budget to let you travel to France? However, if pelt hunting you must do, I’m assuming that you’re talking about haggis pelts? They fetch a high price I hear . . .

  32. @wiscot

    @the Engine

    Can’t log in through the V-site – have sent an email to Frank saying I’ll be there – will this do?

    I need to go hunt me some pelts now to pay fer it all.

    Oh come on. Surely Mrs Engine can save a few pennies out of her generous housekeeping budget to let you travel to France? However, if pelt hunting you must do, I’m assuming that you’re talking about haggis pelts? They fetch a high price I hear . . .

    I’ve set a haggis trap in the river at the bottom of the garden – this time of year they tend to like the shelter of the river bank…also trapping them avoids damage to the skin – essential for the discerning Italian market

  33. Reading about the Keepers Tour makes me think I’m Ulysses and the Keepers are the sirens.

    Not too sure who’s tied me to the mast though…

  34. Reading all this stirs up a particularly painful memory for me. I was offered a (dream) job at a luxury cycling tourism company as content writer and marketer a couple years ago. I had to turn it down because their compensation package just wasn’t feasible for my wife and me. After a couple days of negotiating I realized we just weren’t going to get it done. Clicking ‘Send’ on that ‘I regretfully decline…’ email was brutal. Au revoir, rolling in the tracks of giants.

    Maybe I’ll be able to join in on the Keepers Tour: 2059 when I’m nearing retirement age…

  35. @Mike Hunn

    So, only because I enjoy being ridiculed by complete strangers, I thought I’d ask some opinions. Surely, there must be an opinion out there somewhere? What are your thoughts on riding a fixie, or single speed (freewheel) over the cobbles? The question “Why Not?” kept me awake all night last night. GO!

    • Because you would like to ride more than one day
    • Because you value your knees
    • Because you value your crotch
    • Because it would be a waste to carry a bike out only to ride it for one secteur
    • Because every ride but Paris Roubaix has steep enough hills to make a fixie a foolish choice

    Need I go on?

  36. @brett

    @Mike Hunn

    So, only because I enjoy being ridiculed by complete strangers, I thought I’d ask some opinions. Surely, there must be an opinion out there somewhere? What are your thoughts on riding a fixie, or single speed (freewheel) over the cobbles? The question “Why Not?” kept me awake all night last night. GO!

    Oh Mikey, why lug a fixie halfway across the world just for it to be thrown in the back of the van after the first secteur, never to be ridden again? (That’s if William, Alex and Frank even let it near the cobbles!)

    Be careful here. Alex may have already ridden P-R on a cast iron penny-farthing.

    It’s not like one changes gears on the P-R stones. You find a decently big gear you can turn over and just hammer. And coasting is dangerous. Hmmmm, still, there must be decent upstanding reasons why a fixie should never see the P-R course.

  37. @Gianni

    @brett

    @Mike Hunn

    So, only because I enjoy being ridiculed by complete strangers, I thought I’d ask some opinions. Surely, there must be an opinion out there somewhere? What are your thoughts on riding a fixie, or single speed (freewheel) over the cobbles? The question “Why Not?” kept me awake all night last night. GO!

    Oh Mikey, why lug a fixie halfway across the world just for it to be thrown in the back of the van after the first secteur, never to be ridden again? (That’s if William, Alex and Frank even let it near the cobbles!)

    Be careful here. Alex may have already ridden P-R on a cast iron penny-farthing.

    It’s not like one changes gears on the P-R stones. You find a decently big gear you can turn over and just hammer. And coasting is dangerous. Hmmmm, still, there must be decent upstanding reasons why a fixie should never see the P-R course.

    Alex may well have done it on a penny-farthing and a hundred year old fixie but I also remember William saying that Alex’s legs scare him.

  38. @Chris

    @Gianni

    @brett

    @Mike Hunn

    So, only because I enjoy being ridiculed by complete strangers, I thought I’d ask some opinions. Surely, there must be an opinion out there somewhere? What are your thoughts on riding a fixie, or single speed (freewheel) over the cobbles? The question “Why Not?” kept me awake all night last night. GO!

    Oh Mikey, why lug a fixie halfway across the world just for it to be thrown in the back of the van after the first secteur, never to be ridden again? (That’s if William, Alex and Frank even let it near the cobbles!)

    Be careful here. Alex may have already ridden P-R on a cast iron penny-farthing.

    It’s not like one changes gears on the P-R stones. You find a decently big gear you can turn over and just hammer. And coasting is dangerous. Hmmmm, still, there must be decent upstanding reasons why a fixie should never see the P-R course.

    Alex may well have done it on a penny-farthing and a hundred year old fixie but I also remember William saying that Alex’s legs scare him.

    Alex = Alex. Mikey = Mikey. Case closed.

  39. @Haldy opps

  40. Look at the state of those cobbles!

  41. That’s a great photo.

    @Harminator

    No gutter to utilise there!

  42. @Haldy

    @sthilzy

    Cobble inspiration from LeMan…

    http://41.media.tumblr.com/9916f8c158145daedd13d6bfe5b1de8d/tumblr_ng89jvmJF21rqu9lbo1_1280.jpg

    Ummm…isn’t that Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle?

    That has got to be one of the most terrifying sights for a pro: riding PR where, on the stones, the viable options for riding are few and far between, only to see a bunch of mugs blocking your way. What to do? Move to a different part of the road? Hardly feasible. Slow down and brake? Hardly feasible. Ride into the fuckers and risk crashing? Hardly feasible. Time to mentally compute options? Milliseconds.

  43. @wiscot

    @Haldy

    @sthilzy

    Cobble inspiration from LeMan…

    http://41.media.tumblr.com/9916f8c158145daedd13d6bfe5b1de8d/tumblr_ng89jvmJF21rqu9lbo1_1280.jpg

    Ummm…isn’t that Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle?

    That has got to be one of the most terrifying sights for a pro: riding PR where, on the stones, the viable options for riding are few and far between, only to see a bunch of mugs blocking your way. What to do? Move to a different part of the road? Hardly feasible. Slow down and brake? Hardly feasible. Ride into the fuckers and risk crashing? Hardly feasible. Time to mentally compute options? Milliseconds.

    I thought that Euro-style spectating involved the sea of people miraculously parting for the racer a la Group B rally fans a few decades ago.

  44. Jesus H, have you seen this! Unbelievable wheel change system where the cassette stays in the frame

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWki2rr8BcY

  45. @gilly

    Jesus H, have you seen this! Unbelievable wheel change system where the cassette stays in the frame

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWki2rr8BcY

    Yeah I saw that too. One of those “now why hasn’t someone thought of that before” moments. I can think of a few different ways that might actually work.

  46. Someone has thought of it before. Google Cinelli Bivalent.

  47. @Oli

    Someone has thought of it before. Google Cinelli Bivalent.

    Fair play, I cant believe that hasnt been taken up in pro cycling. Then again, it would have to get through the UCI.

  48. Also, it’s an inherently weak design. A rear axle takes an incredible amount of load, so one with a break in it will cause problems I’m sure. I reckon it might be okay on punter bikes under easy loads, but not serious bikes.

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