You never have the wind with you, either it is against you or you’re having a good day.
– Daniel Behrman
After an intense few cycling weeks in April, it was time to relax a bit. I didn’t ride much the past week but I did mark the BRM 200 in Lier in my calendar. I had planned to ride to the start but the forecast wasn’t looking too good so I decided on taking the train to Lier. I arrived around 7 ‘o clock and wanted to drink a coffee in the train station but there nothing open so I set off for Café Waregem. It wasn’t open yet but there were already 2 german blokes waiting.
It wasn’t to crowded in the café and besides the usual suspects, there were a few new faces: 4 guys from a cycling club in Wijnegem and two strong ladies from Madam Vélo had planned to ride their first brevet. Around 8 ‘o clock we set off and I formed a small group with Rik, Stephan, John, and John. It was great to catch up with Rik. Rik always impresses me with his perseverance. Although he is a slower rider he just keeps on pedaling. After an hour or so I had to let him go …. he’s a big boy and I’m sure he manages just fine on his own. I was now riding on and off with John Partington. His pace was fierce and I just managed to hang on till the first control.
After the first control, I stayed with John, John (NL), Kees and Mika. All the twisting and turning in the parcours had Johns GPS take some alternative routing so we lost John for 10 minutes but we eventually caught him again. When we were nearing the second control in Peer Johns GPS went haywire again and I rode on with John (NL). Just a few kilometers before the second control we got caught into a small hailstorm. Happy to be inside with some hot coffee I ate my sandwiches. The four blokes from the cycling club and the two ladies were not far behind. John already set off and I contemplated on what to do. We would now make a turn into the wind so the next 100k was not going to be fun.
I decided on setting off with the small group of first-timers hoping to have some shelter from the wind. Boy was I wrong ;-). I quickly ended up in front of the pack and tried pacing to keep the group together. After half an hour or so we picked up John again who looked lost. His GPS was acting up again. The 8 of us now stayed together and I kept riding in front. The wind was brutal. Along these canals, you just have no place to hide from the wind and, although the wind was blowing hard the pace was still pretty high. When we stopped for the last control in Geel I heard a sigh of relief in the group.
With only 35 km to go, we could smell the finish. The wind was still blowing strong but I enjoyed riding in front (one of the perks of riding in front is that you don’t have any spray from riders in front of you who don’t have full fenders). We really got lucky with the weather: I think we only had one or two small showers. We eventually turned for the final straight: the Netekanaal. The wind was now blowing sideways and before we knew it we were back in Café Waregem.
I had great fun and coming to Lier brings back memories to the first brevet I rode in Lier. The route was flawless again (thank you Louis) and I really love the pubs that Louis picks for the controls. Real nostalgia.