Winds 21 MPH out of the west, gusting to 32.
Nope, I can't go to Flanders this year.
But on a night like this, after a horrendous commute like I just had, I can think about what Flanders means and why it's special to us cyclists. When I racked the bike on the roof tonight, shivering and with water running up my sleeves, I thought, "I'm a cyclist, not a guy on a bike." So are the other people out on the trail struggling up the long hill into the wind. It means something to know you can suffer a bit and keep right on pedaling, that wind and rain don't stop you. You're out there, passing people in cars who look up at you through the raindrops on the glass and wonder, "what on Earth possesses them?"
I look back and think, "because I'm not you."
I'm not a pro classics specialist either, and having ridden on cobblestones many times when I lived in Europe, I'm pretty sure I couldn't ever be one. Doesn't mean I can't appreciate the hell out of the racers who are, and what they go through. The training alone - often in conditions similar to what I just rode through - must take more strength out of them than most of us have strength. Still they race. It's because they are cyclists, racers actually; not just guys on bikes.
Victim of Tonight's Commute
A Couple Witnesses to the Conditions
While we're thinking of Flanders, check out Ryan's post on Freire and some of the upcoming cobblestone races.