Keepers’ Tour: Cobbled Classics 2012 Update

It’s referred to as the Hell of the North not for the misery the race causes on its riders, but for the landscape the route carries the riders through. Terrible, unimaginable things have happend there. Napoleon’s troops marched those lands, falling by the thousands at the bayonet and cannonball. More recently, the First World War took place there, a war fought with something resembling modern weaponry but using something too closely matching classical battle-line tactics.

The kind of agony that escaped the bodies of the soldiers who died on those fields is the kind that seeps into the ground and hangs in the air for centuries; you feel it in the air even from a distance when you first disembark the plane at the airport.

For those of us who love the Northern classics, there is a special week when the greatest one-day races of the year are held, de Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. Both races are equally magical, for what Flanders lacks in the roughness of its cobblestones, it makes up for in the steepness of its muurs. Similarly, what Roubaix lacks in decisive climbs, it makes up for with the savage granite paving stones known as the pavé. Which is the tougher race? We intend to find out; join us for this magical week in Belgium and Northern France to ride the roads and watch the races first-hand.

I don’t think any of us dream of riding the cobbles of Northern Europe in the expectation that it will be enjoyable in a classical sense anymore so than any of us harbor the notion that resting your chin on a running jackhammer would provide rest for an invigorating nap. Quite the oposite, in fact; this is the type of experience that starts to become enjoyable only the moment you’ve climbed off your bike, and becomes more so with every day that passes after. But the memory will stay with you for ever, and the lessons you learn about yourself during such a physical challenge will strengthen your life and harden your character for all your remaining years.

I should think that those of us planning, hoping, or wishing to go on the Keepers’ Tour share a healthy degree of apprehension about climbing the steeps of the Kapelmuur or dashing down the Troueé l’Arenburg. Questions are creeping into our minds about frames, wheels, and handlebars, wondering how best to modify our bikes to endure the the roughest roads the Pros race on, even if there might be some difference in the speed with which we do so. But after having accomplished the feat, we’ll in some small way identify more viscerally with what the Pros experience when we watch them race the same roads on Race Day.

We have several package options available: the flagship fully accommodated, all-inclusive 9 day/9 night tour (2250€), full weekend tours with or without accommodation (500€ and 250€ respectively), as well as daily tours with or without accommodation (200€ and 100€ respectively). A full break down of pricing and booking options is available on the Keepers’ Tour: Cobbled Classics 2012 Event Page. Once booked and confirmed, we will coordinate directly to collect a down payment of 15%, with the balance due upon arrival in Lille, France. Everything is included in the packages: food, drinks, support car with spare wheels, Gent velodrome ride (if applicable), Cyfac bicycles for those not bringing their own (limited sizes and quantities available), energy food, and insurance. All-inclusive packages include accommodation; packages without accommodation are also available for those living in the area or wishing to look after their own lodgings. All packages, with or without accommodation, include dinner and drinks after each day’s ride.

Attendees of the full 9 day Keepers’ Tour will be greeted with a Velominati Musette stuffed with a commemorative V-Pint and V-Shirt. Given the abundance of Belgian beer, the V-Pint will be well used. We will also have a Velominati Flag to wave at the races. A Cogal welcoming all riders will also be arranged, details pending finalization of the itinerary. Also note that only attendees of the full Keepers’ Tour will be eligible to ride with Museeuw and to join the Merckx Factory Tour. Weekend and Daily Tour attendees will be eligible to buy the commemorative V-Pint directly.

We’ve made a few adjustments to our itinerary; confirmed are the ride with Lion of Flanders, Johan Museeuw (who is such a badass his last name even rhymes with the Flemish word for Lion, Johan Museeuw, de leeuw van Vlaanderen) and tour of the Eddy Merckx Factory. Updated (but still preliminary) itinerary, guided by Pavé Cycling Classics:

  • Friday March 30th: arrival in Lille. Drive to Gent for dinner & introductions at the cottage.
  • Saturday March 31th: Ride Paris-Roubaix course (at least 180km from St Quentin to Roubaix, full ride available to those who dare) – Visit of the Roubaix Vélodromes (both old and new).
  • Sunday April 1st: Rest or short ride around the cottage in the Flanders area (morning) – Watch the Tour of Flanders in Oude Kwaremont and/or Paterberg.
  • Monday April 2nd: Visit to Eddy Merckx factory to pay our respects to The Prophet, followed by a Brussells downtown visit (more detail to come).
  • Tuesday April 3rd: Short ride around the cottage or rest and visit the bicycle museum in Beveren (Roeselare). Afternoon ride with Johan Museeuw.
  • Wednesday April 4th: 2 hours practice with a coach on the Eddy Merckx Velodrome in Gent (track bikes provided). Follow the Grand Prix de l’Escaut Pro Race (http://www.scheldeprijs.be/nl)
  • Thursday April 5th: Ride with the Pros on their Paris Roubaix recon around Arenberg. Visit to the Brunehaut brewery in Belgium (where our Malteni beer is produced). Tour of  downtown Lille.
  • Friday April 6th: Ride Tour of Flanders course (150 and 200km routes available, full ride available to those who dare). Visit the Tour of Flanders museum in Oudenaarde.
  • Saturday April 7th: Cyclo Fléche Brabançonne (http://www.flandersclassics.be/nl/cyclo/brabantse-pijl) or ride in Flanders area.
  • Sunday April 8th: Follow the Paris-Roubaix race (taking in cobbled sectors around Valenciennes + Arenberg + L’Arbre). Depart.

[product buttonid=”3FBBYVSTR5B6W” unitname=”Keepers’ Tour Gift Letter” unitprice=”0.50″ unitoptionslabel=”Gift” unitoptions=”Keepers’ Tour: Cobbled Classics 2012″ image=”http://www.velominati.com/wp-resources/products/v-gift/v-letter-thumb.png” shipping=”Shipping is free to domestic and international addresses.”]The V-Gift letter is intended to be given in leiu of giving the Keepers’ Tour on the day of an occation. It is carefully crafted and personalized before being printed on thick parchment paper and sealed with a hand-dripped wax V-Seal for wrapping and giving on the day. This beautiful letter can be wrapped and given to its recipient, announcing to the recipient the impending Glory of Merckx which will befall them upon their arrival in Belgium in April. The cost of the letter is only to cover the cost of postage.
[/product]

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173 Replies to “Keepers’ Tour: Cobbled Classics 2012 Update”

  1. @Marcus

    @minion

    @Blah

    @Blah

    @frankI said the word makes more sense. Those pics have a definite otherworldly quality.Buuuuuuuuut:Second shot – shorts too short, socks too long. (Dare I say it?) Discipline too cyclocross.

    *world, not word.Can you tell I’m in a stinker of a mood today? I swear there are no parents in the apartment upstairs. 2.30am these psycho kids start screaming at each other, moving heavy furniture and, amazingly, taking showers. Went on for nearly an hour.I adjusted the alarm from 4.40 to 5.10 and abandoned the extra 15km I was going to do this morning. Ride cheered me up a bit, but 35km rather than 50km before work pisses me off.

    Heh, I’m in a pretty foul mood too, hence the above. When I stop to reflect on the number of unrelated pics I’ve posted of Australians, sheep, boats and beer, I’ve got no grounds to complain. (Which is why I don’t stop and reflect.) I justify it that nearly all of them were to wind up Marcus, which as a Kiwi is both a national pastime and obligation.That and I’ve had a sinus infection for a week. Planning on starting base training in at the beginning of summer, since I haven’t ridden for about 10 days, and I still feel sh’ouse.

    As to infections, I would get your urinary tract checked as well – cos you sound like a big pussy.

    You get shorter every time you post.

  2. @minion
    Another 5000 posts and I might get to be almost as short as your country’s batting performance yesterday. You boys were disgraceful.

  3. @frank

    @Blah

    @frank
    I said the word makes more sense. Those pics have a definite otherworldly quality.
    Buuuuuuuuut:
    Second shot – shorts too short, socks too long. (Dare I say it?) Discipline too cyclocross.

    Guy on the left is Eric De Vlaeminck, Rogers bro. All their shorts were too short back then, but to my point – your words cheapened the shot, didn’t they? A shot which I think is awesome. Especially the unnamed German’s guns. Merckx.

    Teaching ethics at the moment to 10th Graders. Looking at moral relativism. Does this attitude mean that The Rules are not absolute truth, but relative to the time and place we find ourselves?
    I lean towards The Rules being absolute. If they are not, they would not have attracted a following from across the world. There would not be such excellent examples from the ages.
    If The Rules are truth, the large expanse of thigh, and high expanse of sock, on display is cheapening the shot, not I, the humble (hahaha) messenger.

  4. @minion
    Granted, Daly probably isn’t thinking too clearly at that point. The bear he ate for lunch clearly caught him a few blows about the face before he’d entirely swallowed it.

  5. @frank

    @Blah, @minion
    Boo-hoo. Isn’t it Springtime for you guys? My fingers still don’t feel right after yesterday’s ride. Talk about serious problems. On top of that, I have to figure out what to have for dinner, which is never an interesting thing to do when you’re cooking for one. Problems.

    Dinner for one. Things like riding are easy when it’s dinner for one. Thing is, kids upstairs woke up the two year old in the next room, who came in to our bed and extended the fun for another half hour before we got back to sleep.
    Spring? Bah. We have wet and dry. It’s wet right now.

  6. @frank

    @Blah, @minionBoo-hoo. Isn’t it Springtime for you guys? My fingers still don’t feel right after yesterday’s ride. Talk about serious problems. On top of that, I have to figure out what to have for dinner, which is never an interesting thing to do when you’re cooking for one. Problems.

    It is actually Summer. Which is what G’rilla was still trying to tell himself at 6am on Saturday morning (in about 15 degrees celsius )as he was the only rider in a bunch of about 40 who wasn’t in long sleeves. We all thought he was so tough!

  7. @minion

    BTW I think the Keepers tour’s problem is an incorrect use of the word tour – it’s being used as a noun but the Keepers would need to be something that can be toured. It doesn’t work the same way as the UCI tour or the PGA tour it would have to be used as a verb which doesn’t quite sit right. (You tour PGA or UCI events.) You aren’t making a tour of the keepers, you’re making a tour of the cobbled classics. If you were to use the word as a noun a Keeper’s tour would be a tour by one keeper: Keepers’ Tour would be a tour by more than one keeper. You’re looking to fix with an apostrophe the use of a word that doesn’t quite fit, which is why you’re struggling.
    Anyway screw it who cares. I’m probably wrong anyway, but so long as I think I’m right, I rule.

    Minion, some poor bastard was promised the +1 badge and I’ll be buggered if I can find the post where I called it. That pissed me off. Until now.

    Because you just summed up the ethos of Velominati. Badge goes to you. Whoever it was that actually earned it – I’ll keep searching and you’ll get it next week. Sorry about that.

    I’m a conflicted man. I’m mostly Dutch (3/4), a culture of people who yell at each other their opinions but despite their apparently arrogant impression, we are a people who are not interested in matters of pride; we are looking for the right answer. We’ll keep yelling and talking over you so long as we think we’re right. The instant – the instant – you convince us otherwise, we back off and fall in line. Its a funny characteristic, and one that those who aren’t Dutch don’t really understand.

    The other part of me is German, and my dad – the Loudest Man in the World – is half German and really only identifies with that half of himself, much like I identify with the Dutch side my heritage. And Germans just yell out of stubbornness and really are just interested in being right, which they usually are. In Germany – and I think most Germans will agree with this – the loudest voice is the Right Voice.

    So despite my insistence on making my points clear, I’m really just interested in finding the right answer, whether that’s mine or someone else’s. So long as I am convinced in the end, I’m just as happy when the person I’m arguing against is right as when I’m right, so long as we’ve found the best possible way forward.

    Except, of course, when I get German and all I care about is being right. The fun part? You guys get to work out which personality is arguing when.

  8. @Blah

    @frank

    @Blah

    @frank
    I said the word makes more sense. Those pics have a definite otherworldly quality.
    Buuuuuuuuut:
    Second shot – shorts too short, socks too long. (Dare I say it?) Discipline too cyclocross.

    Guy on the left is Eric De Vlaeminck, Rogers bro. All their shorts were too short back then, but to my point – your words cheapened the shot, didn’t they? A shot which I think is awesome. Especially the unnamed German’s guns. Merckx.

    Teaching ethics at the moment to 10th Graders. Looking at moral relativism. Does this attitude mean that The Rules are not absolute truth, but relative to the time and place we find ourselves?
    I lean towards The Rules being absolute. If they are not, they would not have attracted a following from across the world. There would not be such excellent examples from the ages.
    If The Rules are truth, the large expanse of thigh, and high expanse of sock, on display is cheapening the shot, not I, the humble (hahaha) messenger.

    Ah! Excellent point! The Rules are, of course, an Absolute Truth. They might even be an Absolute Truthe, because adding an unnecessary e to the end of any word gives it gravitas.

    But, The Rules are steeped in history, in the culture of Cycling. We can not be where we are today were it not for yesterday. Indeed, the shorts are too short. But that is how it was then. They were as they were, and that is what fed the Goldilocks Principle and brought us to where we are today.

    There are to ways to look at this photo. We can look at it and scowl and say, Grinch-style, “Those idiots didn’t know a thing about style! Their short are too short! Their socks are too long! Their seat posts too low, their bars are too high!”

    Or, we could say, “That was the way it was, and we have learned from their mistakes to better our future. Their sacrifice helped improve our world. And they were still Hardmen, and they were still Awesome. Thank you, Merckx, for giving them to us, and for letting us learn from their mistakes.”

  9. @frank

    @Blah, @minion
    Boo-hoo. Isn’t it Springtime for you guys? My fingers still don’t feel right after yesterday’s ride. Talk about serious problems. On top of that, I have to figure out what to have for dinner, which is never an interesting thing to do when you’re cooking for one. Problems.

    Yeah, it was COLD yesterday. Normally I get hot enough to unzip the jacket when climbing in cold weather, but it was cold enough to make me think “nah, I think I’ll keep this heat zipped in so I have it when I start the descent…”

  10. @mcsqueak

    @frank

    @Blah, @minion
    Boo-hoo. Isn’t it Springtime for you guys? My fingers still don’t feel right after yesterday’s ride. Talk about serious problems. On top of that, I have to figure out what to have for dinner, which is never an interesting thing to do when you’re cooking for one. Problems.

    Yeah, it was COLD yesterday. Normally I get hot enough to unzip the jacket when climbing in cold weather, but it was cold enough to make me think “nah, I think I’ll keep this heat zipped in so I have it when I start the descent…”

    Yeah, we had an inversion. High of 0C (32F) most places, and it got warmer as you climbed, which meant that coming down into colder weather literally froze the shit out of you. (I mean figuratively, not literally.)

  11. @frank
    Cheers! I checked back in to tell Marcus comparing cricket team’s performance is like a dick measuring contest in Kindergarten. Yes it took me half an hour to come up with that one. And yes I’ve used it before.

    I also remember you were going to badge someone up for something worthy this week, but can’t remember who it was. I’ll keep it warm till it gets figured out.

  12. @frank
    I think you are looking for this?

    Belgian Affirmations: Kapelmuur

    @mblume
    This photo could have been as easily posted in “Anatomy of a Photo”. My take on the kid with the chubby cheeks and serious face (the only tifosi who is serious here) is really the only one who fully grasps the magnitude of The V being displayed by the 2 combatants.
    If I am not mistaken the kid is Philippe Gilbert. I am quite sure his young mind was plotting something to the effect of: “Damn,I need to start applying Rule V and colorng my hair now in kindergarten if I want to win the Fleche Brabanconne, Amstel Gold , Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2011.”

    Alright, if I remember, you’re getting the +1 badge next week. Absolute solid gold!

  13. @minion

    @Marcus

    You guys obviously have some deep yet unresolved feelings for each other. I think the only thing that will break the unbearable tension you’re suffering is for you to get together and vigorously massage each others legs, if you know what I mean.

  14. @Oli
    2 minutes of internetting failed to yield a photo of two puny cyclists fighting each other. But imagine I just posted one like that (but imagine the cyclists were fatter).

  15. @frank

    @Blah

    @frank

    @Blah

    @frank
    I said the word makes more sense. Those pics have a definite otherworldly quality.
    Buuuuuuuuut:
    Second shot – shorts too short, socks too long. (Dare I say it?) Discipline too cyclocross.

    Guy on the left is Eric De Vlaeminck, Rogers bro. All their shorts were too short back then, but to my point – your words cheapened the shot, didn’t they? A shot which I think is awesome. Especially the unnamed German’s guns. Merckx.

    Teaching ethics at the moment to 10th Graders. Looking at moral relativism. Does this attitude mean that The Rules are not absolute truth, but relative to the time and place we find ourselves?
    I lean towards The Rules being absolute. If they are not, they would not have attracted a following from across the world. There would not be such excellent examples from the ages.
    If The Rules are truth, the large expanse of thigh, and high expanse of sock, on display is cheapening the shot, not I, the humble (hahaha) messenger.

    Ah! Excellent point! The Rules are, of course, an Absolute Truth. They might even be an Absolute Truthe, because adding an unnecessary e to the end of any word gives it gravitas.
    But, The Rules are steeped in history, in the culture of Cycling. We can not be where we are today were it not for yesterday. Indeed, the shorts are too short. But that is how it was then. They were as they were, and that is what fed the Goldilocks Principle and brought us to where we are today.
    There are to ways to look at this photo. We can look at it and scowl and say, Grinch-style, “Those idiots didn’t know a thing about style! Their short are too short! Their socks are too long! Their seat posts too low, their bars are too high!”
    Or, we could say, “That was the way it was, and we have learned from their mistakes to better our future. Their sacrifice helped improve our world. And they were still Hardmen, and they were still Awesome. Thank you, Merckx, for giving them to us, and for letting us learn from their mistakes.”

    I can live with this.
    The way I’m going to think of it is like the atomic model. Old school cool is like the models of J.J. Thomson giving way to Neils Bohr, then further discoveries leading to matched seat and bar tape colours and the disproving of EPMS theory.
    The Rules were always there, but the important work of those who came before us means that we truly stand on the shoulders of giants in our abilities to perceive them. And look good doing it.

  16. @brett

    @Marcus
    Wrestling? Rolling around on the ground, oiled up? Yeah…

    The bromance is getting a little musty round here.
    Oli, you’ve unknowingly invoked what’s known as the Bretto effect. When some off colour joke including someone’s sexuality is made, he pops his head up and chimes in. Only time I see him these days, he like a perverted whack a mole.

  17. @Blah

    I can live with this.

    The way I’m going to think of it is like the atomic model. Old school cool is like the models of J.J. Thomson giving way to Neils Bohr, then further discoveries leading to matched seat and bar tape colours and the disproving of EPMS theory.

    The Rules were always there, but the important work of those who came before us means that we truly stand on the shoulders of giants in our abilities to perceive them. And look good doing it.

    Well put. Excellent work. You’re ready to teach.

  18. I’m not sure what to reply to here. On the one hand there is an insightful conversation on the parallels between cycling and physics. On the other there’s a bunch of Aussie dudes invoking a twisted sense of friendship with homo-eroticism and veiled adoration for one-another. I’ll have to get back to this later.

  19. FFS guys, pictures of John Daly? really? Let’s get back on track here. From that picture of Fast Freddy and The Gypsy, I’d say the latter has a spiffy pair of Cinelli 66s on there. Classic track/sprinter bar.

    Notice too, how these two gods of the spring classics seem to be riding in some kind of beatific sunbeam from the heavens, casting magnificent shadows upon the pave.

    Discuss and let’s have no more pictures of fat slobs playing a silly game in children’s clothes.

  20. Can’t recall where but I think Chris posted to ask who was going via Lille etc.

    I can either fly in to Paris and then train to Lille, or into Brussels and then get to Ghent/Kemmel.

    I’m staying with the family in Kemmel so transferring from Lille with the main group would be ideal. I won’t have my bike with me at that point. I can hang out with you guys until the family arrives, then I’ll know where you are and what the plans are for Saturday.

    What time is everyone expecting to get through Lille ? The morning flight from AD gets into CDG around 1430 so to Lille about 1630 probably. Or there’s an overnight flight that gets in at 0730.

  21. @ChrisO
    I’m getting into Lille around miday. Transfering up to Kemel might take a bit of thought, it looks like a multi change train journey that takes way too long. I’ll ask @frank to ping you my email address.

  22. Just got the shiny .pdf brocure/programme from Pave. I’m over the moon that I can join fun for a weekend but I’m gutted I can’t do the whole thing. it just gets better and better.

  23. Oo-er…just to confirm, we are doing the tour of flanders ride on Saturday right? Not friday?

    Otherwise I am in the doodoo.

  24. Hi Brett. Not been anywhere else, just haven’t had much time for the internet, or rather I haven’t got enough time to spare the amount I’d like (need) to here, so have stayed away. Anyway, trying to hook up with the Tour but have no idea what a Cogal is.

  25. @Minion

    @brett

    @Marcus
    Wrestling? Rolling around on the ground, oiled up? Yeah…

    The bromance is getting a little musty round here.
    Oli, you’ve unknowingly invoked what’s known as the Bretto effect. When some off colour joke including someone’s sexuality is made, he pops his head up and chimes in. Only time I see him these days, he like a perverted whack a mole.

    Here’s Brett in when he’s not on Velominati.

    @Jarvis
    This is a Cogal:
    Cogals are meetings of like-minded misfits brought together by the promise of beer, preceded by a bike ride. Cogals are free, open to all, organized by our fellow Velominati and are always followed by consumption of post-ride recovery ales and merriment. These are gatherings of unbridled observance of Rule #4.

  26. So is everyone collecting in Lille and then being shuttled out to Hulhove?

    There doesn’t appear to be any events in Lille that day, but want to make sure I’m not missing out on something, since I’ll be driving in, likely straight to Hulhove.

  27. @frank

    Has anymore thought been given to the Cogal that’s mentioned above? I’m not on the tour, but will be over watching the racing and would love to join the Cogal if it’s possible.

  28. @Bill

    So is everyone collecting in Lille and then being shuttled out to Hulhove?

    There doesn’t appear to be any events in Lille that day, but want to make sure I’m not missing out on something, since I’ll be driving in, likely straight to Hulhove.

    I’ll be catching the TGV from Paris to Lille on Friday. ETA depends on which Lille station is best for collection.

    Have any other attendees planned their arrival time and station beyond “Lille sometime on Friday”?

    Alex & William – any advice?

  29. @Bianchi Denti

    I had previously emailed them to ask about transfer and they said Lille Europe station (there’s also a Lille Flandres) around 6pm.

    As it turns out the flights into Paris that day for me are either incredibly expensive or the timing is wrong, so I’m going to fly in to Brussels mid-afternoon, hire a car and drive over.

  30. @ChrisO

    @Bianchi Denti

    I had previously emailed them to ask about transfer and they said Lille Europe station (there’s also a Lille Flandres) around 6pm.

    As it turns out the flights into Paris that day for me are either incredibly expensive or the timing is wrong, so I’m going to fly in to Brussels mid-afternoon, hire a car and drive over.

    Sweet. [email protected]

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