On the Road Again: Keepers Tour 2015

Gimmeeawheel!!!! I have a flat!
Gimmeeawheel!!!! I have a flat!

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

 

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66 Replies to “On the Road Again: Keepers Tour 2015”

  1. The ‘blows by in the gutter” video is great.  The music selection is as well.  Job well done!

     

  2. This is going to be Fantastic! The Welliminati will be there in force, myself, @BianchDenti, @rigid and @Mikey are ready for a stoning! (Ok, we’re nowhere near ready and probably never will be, but we’ll be there.)

  3. I am subtley trying to convince the VMH that we should reschedule the family tropical trip from that week to another, then a couple of weeks after we re-schedule I will casually bring up that I am planning on the Keepers Tour and that I will be spending most of evenings through Jan-Mar in the basement crushing it on the rollers or out on the CX bike in the snow and dark.  I don’t see much could go wrong with this plan?

  4. Wow that’s quite an itinerary, made me decide to register and start getting involved rather than just sitting on the sidelines reading the articles in my lunch break :D

  5. For reasons of both time and money I can’t even consider doing it, but is one (or both) of the Saturday rides going to be a Cogal?

    I’d like to come over for the 4th to Roubaix, and I think a few other Euro-Velominati would do the same.

  6. We have a crew of 4 in Outenaarde on the 4th for the Ronde van Vlanders Cyclo, but would detour back to Roubaix for a Cogal, and back on the 11th for the Paris Roubaix Challenge, so weekend would be great

  7. @frank. There should be a rule for that. “And The Prophet did decree that thou shalt not write nor say the F word”

    “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.”

    This is the worst F word. There are now three certainties in your life, the other two being death and taxes.

  8. Always loved that picture of Hedrick Redant: leading the ’91 paris-Roubaix, going for a career defining classic victory, and then ppppffff. Over.  That’s Roubaix.

  9. @fignons barber

    Always loved that picture of Hedrick Redant: leading the ’91 paris-Roubaix, going for a career defining classic victory, and then ppppffff. Over. That’s Roubaix.

    Cool. I couldn’t figure out who that was. No wonder he has a look of total desperation on his face.

  10. I can’t make it until the end, but hoping to reprise some of what I miss the following days as y’all go back to recover from the battering of the cobbles and hepatic lobes…

  11. Reading that itinerary made me salivate slightly. Alas, as a recent university graduate new to the World of The Bike, I lack both the funds and ability to join. I hope I will rectify this in years to come.

  12. @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”…

  13. @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.

  14. @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 ! “

  15. @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.

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

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. @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…

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

  21. 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?…

  22. 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.

  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. @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.

  26. @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.

  27. @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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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.

  30. @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…

  31. @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!)

  32. @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!)

  33. @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 . . .

  34. @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

  35. 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…

  36. 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…

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