Liège-Bastogne-Liège – account from the true 160km gang

With the team adrift, slowly small groups started to form based on the route.  For the 160 km’ers, Paul and Jamie managed to stay together from the onset.  Seeing Bish ahead, we had to decide to either close the gap or soft pedal in hopes Seb, James, and Paul G would catch up. So the decision was taken to hold back and let Bish go on, as he seemed to be putting on the speed. Seb managed to catch up and blow by, an Ironman posessed, although we later learned he just wanted to get back and have a siesta.

Paul and Jamie continued on and shortly before the 80 km’ers food stop, Paul kept seeing a bright orange spot on his back wheel and heard a terrible noise like sail cloth tearing in the wind.  At a red light, it was discovered that James had caught up and was wearing a mountaineering wind breaker (sleeve) designed to fit over his backpack.  But there was no backpack today, so whenever he got up to speed the Sails went a Fluttering on the HMS Flying Pumpkin.  Seriously, this thing was so big that James would drop off the back dramatically on descents!!!

So the three of us pressed on and pretty soon we saw a blaze of flourescent yellow in the distance, heretofore known as the Bish.  It seems he was keeping up with Frank and Jeffery until the split point and realised that they were doing the 80K,  So he faced 120k alone, with a fast start . . . had he left enough powder dry. So now at least 4 of the 160 km’er’s were together and we pressed on to the first food stop.  After some grub, ok lots of waffles, and a refill of the water bottles, we were about to leave when Kathryn and Paul G showed up.

Once Kathryn and Paul G got dropped on the first big climb, Paul, James, Jamie, and THE BISH, managed more or less to stay together over the various hills, and hills, and hills, rejoining at the food stops.  We got to the last food stop and noticed an enticing cafe across the river.  It wasn’t a hard decision to take a short walk and have a coffee and a sitdown – we have our priorities afterall.  So feeling refreshed and energetic due to the jolt of caffine, we started out of town with thought ” This is just an Olympic bike distance to go . . . soon, very soon after we left and headed up another hill, James was heard to say – “Did that say 20%?” To which Paul responded, “I don’t think 20% is even possible.”  It was 20% and a brutal climb.

So 2km into our ”just an Olympic” the Redoute ended the merry troop’s solidarity as James put his head down and kept going, Paul and Bish regrouped, and Jamie got dropped off the back.  From there it was survival mode to complete the day’s ride.  James stayed at it and finished, Paul came in a few minutes down, BISH suffered a massive leg cramp on a hill that knocked him back a few minutes but recovered and made it in, and then Jamie brought up the rear.  We all waited for Jamie, like the teammates and gentlemen we are, because it was the right thing to do . . . and because he was the only one with money.  So while Jamie stretched it out, the others got provisions of beer and frites.  These were well appreciated – thanks to Jamie’s foresight, and we all enjoyed the sun and avoid the eventually of getting on the bike to go back to the hotel.

Eventually, we gave up on Nick, Kathryn, and Paul G, filled a missing persons report, and headed back to the hotel.  Five minutes out we saw a relieved and smiling Nick Lamb, finishing his epic journey. We were happy to see him get in as we knew he had to tackle some nasty and steep hills on the last 1/3 of his journey; none of us wanted to be in his cleats this day!!.