Good luck John and Dennis!

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Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby firefly » Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:26 pm

Just wanted to wish John Mac and Dennis the best of luck for their adventures this weekend (at least I think it's this weekend? :?: ??!).
Hope you guys have a wonderful and safe trip and come back with some tales to tell!

Have fun! :wink:

Claire X
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby John Mac » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:09 pm

Many thanks Claire, I'm sure your good wishes will put another mile in our legs,

John & Dennis.
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby John Mac » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:44 pm

Having gained enough strength to type, here's a brief review of a very big day out.

First, in summary - and probably an underestimate, imagine Saintbury about 20 times plus a few more much longer climbs (Welsh mountain/Holm Moss/Cat & Fiddle types), spread out over 165 miles.

Then add a headwind for the first third of the course. Mix this in with about 7-8 hours of rain, buffeting ice cold hail and at one point, for some - snow. Average temperature about 4 degrees dropping to zero with the wind and rain.

As you can see, this is going to lead to a big day out.

Dennis and I began the course at about 7.10am and within about 7 miles hit the first draggy climb. Very similar to going up past Malvern, but longer. With this in mind we opted to go slow and just as well since this was the start of up and down all day. Quite a surprise since there are only 2 categorized climbs in the first two thirds of the course, then 9 categorized lumps in the final 100k. Yet Den and I must have gone over 10 to 15 Saintbury hills that were not even considered worth mentioning in the course guide. Anyway, once onto climb 4 or 5 of the day, we were joined by a local ride leader (ex Belgium pro type running his own company) - leading a group of Americans and Brazilians. He drew his group up to us and told us we were riding at exactly the right pace to make it around, considering what was to come. This gave us a little boost and so we decided to try to maintain this steady pace for the rest of the days climbs.

All carried on well to the first feed where we had our course card stamped and carried on once again. Eventually we came to the short/long course split. 3000 people turned left onto the short cut and suddenly we seemed to be on our own. Apparently some of the few lunatics who try to go all the way round. On we went as the day dragged on - pushing into the headwind and rain all the way to Bastogne and the 2nd feed on the long course. Here we came across the handful of others that we were to see on the long course, many beginning to look a bit tired and very wet.

60 miles down and at last, we thought - we will now have only side or tail winds to help us along. By this time we began to get the feeling that the hills were becoming longer and in some cases steeper. Now sick of cake and sweet drinks we decided to look out for a coffee stop as we passed through all the sleepy villages. Eventually our needs were met on a windswept hilltop where we spotted some riders bikes lent against the door of a motorbike shop. In we went to be greeted by a coffee machine and two Italians waiting to be collected by the sag wagon. At this point we realised we must have been near the back of the riders out on the course but still felt sure we would make it back to Liege if we measured our effort and continued at a steady pace.
So once the already full sag wagon picked up the sorry Italians - off we headed again. Minutes turned to hours and on we plodded. Our next challenge came as we entered a small town off a decent and zipped around a corner following signs up the next hill. On went the long hill, onto a wooded ridge and on past hamlets we went. There aren't any signs any more Dennis, where are we? Yep lost. Maps too small to read. Garmin not able to show detail on the Belgium Maps. Can't read google maps on Dens phone as he has lost his glasses. Dennis is starting to loose his core temp and we need to remain calm. I'm sure we are mean't to be on the other side of that valley,let's reverse the route back to the town. Back in the town some time later we see a sign that looks like it has been turned round, Yeh, lets head up this hill. Half way up - I don't like it. I call over a local - Your meant to be coming down this hill, he says - NOT up it! Stay calm, back to the town, coffee and food to warm Dennis - we meet more cyclists and locate the right way on-wards.

As you can imagine, we have now lost lots of time and by the time we reach the 3rd feed they are beginning to pack it away. This wont stop us - we'll switch to cafes and keep going. Time goes by - the hills keep coming and the rain eats through our clothes. Dennis lets me know he is becoming seriously cold, in fact its perishing on the decents and I am a little concerned for us both as I know we will lose light by 9pm and may be stuck in unlit forests. Dennis has a great idea. He knocks on a locals door, shivering, and is given newspapers to protect his chest and legs and even a brand new high viz jacket to keep him safe. I have a front and back light and Den has a rear light. Off we go again. In my mind I decide if we can get to within 20 miles of Liege, we can drop off the course and try to find some lit A roads to guide us in. This was the best decision we made. We came across a lit road signed to Liege about 20 miles out. Do we stay on forest roads, becoming pitch black or follow the lights. Its the lights. Still soaking and freezing we get to within 10 miles of Liege. Dennis is seriously worried about his temperature and we spot a burger bar in a small town. Its 9.30 and he's open till 10pm. In we go and hit the frites and hot chocolate. We're saved and I no longer feel we are in danger. 10pm and off we go on the last stretch, off the big hills and we drop down to the inviting lights of Liege. Here we come across a friendly native who drives his car ahead of us to guide us towards the city centre. We then head through the shopping area to be met by two pi**ed Brits who's jaws drop open as the say Have you just fu**ing got back? - and big hand shakes all round. They had done the short course and said that nearly did for them. 10.55 Dennis says Where's the Hotel John? Right behind you Dennis. A BIG DAY OUT!

Pro race the next day - absolutely awsome. Saw it 7 times at the most iconic places. In between we are racing through the hills, seeing the peleton in the distance, watching it live on TV with the helecopters overhead - WOW!

So if you have time to kill and you want a big day out - Dennis and I highly recommend Liege Bastogne Liege. As you can see its a relaxing day out. A piece of Pi** really.

John and Dennis
The Hairy Leg Gentlemen of the Road.
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby ken » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:52 am

Wow! What an incredible day. Great write up too: I'm feeling cold, wet and exhausted just reading it as I lie in bed! Can hardly imagine almost 16 hours (?!!) on the bike in those conditions. Amazing courage and determination from you both, you are an inspiration to us all. Lesser (and perhaps more sane :wink: ) men would have given up, that's for sure. Chapeau!!
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby SiEvans » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:55 am

What an achievement, it sounds like a great adventure. I don't know how you carried on in those conditions, great fortitude and fighting spirit on display!
I struggle with one Saintbury, the idea of 20 similar climbs makes me feel weak at the knees, never mind in those weather conditions.
Chapeau!
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby Jim » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:34 am

Well done fellas, and a great write up.

Makes me feel pretty feeble as I sit here worrying if it will be wet for the Wednesday ride tonight!

Cheers.........Jim.
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby RichardF » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:03 pm

the 162 km of Flanders was enough for me - well done on eclipsing that by some 100km or more and in much worse conditions. :P
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby John Mac » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:37 pm

Many thanks for this guys, really kind words. We couldn't let the Wheeler's jersey down could we?

See you on the road once my legs bend at the knees again,

Best regards,

John.
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby firefly » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:55 pm

Wow! Sounds like an eventful, fun (!!!!!) filled day out!
Where do I sign up? :shock: !!!
Proud to have the pleasure of riding with 2 fantastic, hairy legged, real men!!!!
Glad to have you both home safely.

Claire X
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby witty » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:22 pm

would like to echo johns thanks to you all for your support,
great to belong to great Club .

Many thanks to john for getting me back on the ride and
the write up a fair reflection of what we went through ,
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby TomH » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:43 pm

Awesome effort fellas!

Massive achievement in any weather but epic given those conditions.

Chapeau indeed!!!
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby ravenhill » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:55 am

What unbelievable willpower you must both have, to continue in conditions like that!
Dennis, you will have to learn to use that 'bus pass' to better effect.

I will be proud to ride with you both, that is if your partners will ever let you out again :lol:

I also raise my 'crash' hat to you both, sorry, I'm a bit short on Greek phrases :oops:
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby Charlie Brown » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:07 pm

You're completely barking mad - it sounds like hell. Very well done to the both of you. It takes some guts to dig in and keep going on a ride like that.

Looking forward to hearing the tales in person over a coffee.
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby Jimbobryant » Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:17 pm

Sounds like even with decent weather it would be an epic day out.

Glad you've both survived, you're a really hardy duo!

See you on a ride with the stories.

Jimbo
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Re: Good luck John and Dennis!

Postby dave collins » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:10 am

Dennis you were my hero in Spain 2 years ago sounds like you went even deeper this time,I can't believe John kept you out there that long so he could star gaze the darkening skies
Well done both of you 8)
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