We didn’t have very Belgian weather for the Tour de Lowlands on Saturday. By the time we made it back to Bavaria, it was 85 degrees and sunny out. Flanders Points be damned though, nobody was complaining, and it sure felt nice to start a ride in shorts and short sleeves!
About 60 people showed up at Cafe Hollander in Wauwatosa. That isn’t bad considering the ride was on the Saturday before Easter, the Wisconsin Cycling Association was holding a race in Menomonee Falls, and I knew of at least three regulars who were in Mexico with their families for Spring Break. Our route to ride past all the Lowlands Group Grand Cafes took us on some city streets and bike paths, so more than that might have been too big a group to keep together.
As it was, our group split when a number of people got flats crossing some railroad tracks on South Water Street. Because those tracks are at such an oblique angle, the City of Milwaukee designed the sidewalk as a parallel side path with a more perpendicular safer crossing on the east side of the street. Our group stuck to the road though, and some people hit the tracks and got pinch flats. I have never had a flat there, but needless to say, I will warn the group about the tracks and the side path next year.
I rode back to find those who got flats and told them the group would wait for them at Cafe Benelux. It had taken us an hour and a half to go 14 miles, and the route was 50 miles. In the interest in keeping a reasonable schedule, when those who flatted rejoined us, we decided the group was too large to stop everyone and wait if there were more flats. One rider actually double flatted and had to stop in at nearby Coast In Bikes to get himself rolling again. Needless to say, he had to pedal back to Tosa by himself.
The slow early progress also put some of the stronger riders in a mood to make up time. We didn’t put the hammer down, but we had a bit of a tail wind, so the pointy end of the pack kept things right at 20 mph for much of the way up to the Cafe Hollander in Mequon. This pace split the group, but even though some people didn’t download the route or print the cue sheet, luckily nobody got lost.
Everyone managed to make it to the Mequon Cafe Hollander, where Bonk Breaker supplied us with their hydration mix and Expresso Chip energy bars, yum! I am also happy to say that we maxed out the copious bike parking at Hollander. If you have not been their, they built a big covered bike parking area right next to the entrance. Talk about rock star parking, you always get a Kojak at Hollander if you ride your bike!
The ride back south was now into the 23 mph wind, so it group was struggling a bit to make tempo. With all the rain we had over the weekend, there were also a couple puddles on the Oak Leaf that gave some riders pause. I noticed people brake, so I snaked my way to the front and pedaled right through the pond, which deep enough to put my bottom bracket under water. All the lemmings in the front group then followed me, and I think they were all smiling.
We made it back to Cafe Bavaria in a bit over three hours of riding time with an average speed of 16.6 mph, pretty much what I estimated we would do. The staff at Bavaria set a bunch of tables for us outside and we did our best to drain the bar of delicious German beer. I had the absolutely amazing Schneider Weisse Unser Aventinus weizenbock, but at 8.2 ABV, I could not finish my second glass!
For those keeping track of Flanders Points, I scored the ride as follows:
88 Flanders Points = 50 miles x 50/70 degrees (temp at start) + 40 (bonus precipitation points for riding through a pond) + 23 mph wind -10
Next weekend we have two Spring Classic Rides on the schedule:
Sat., April 22nd, 9 a.m. –Rocket Bicycle Studio to New Glarus
Get your Swiss on and join the crew from Rocket Bicycle Studio in Verona for a fun but hilly loop to Belleville, New Glarus and back to Verona. Bring your crampons because this route includes some serious climbing. 45 miles
The Coulee Bicycle Company of Onalaska teams up with the Red Pines Bar and Grill in Brice Prairie to host a ride through the Town of Holland to the famed Mindoro Cut and back. After the ride, we can refuel at the Red Pines on Lake Onalaska in Brice Prairie. 55 miles
The ride from Rocket Bikes in Verona to New Glarus is new this year. The La Crosse area ride to the “Cut” was added last year. Both rides should be a blast. I will definitely be at the La Crosse ride. My coworker Tony Giron might handle the New Glarus ride so I can go on the Dairy Roubaix, which is not on our Spring Classic schedule, but certainly is a right of spring for many of us.
Thanks again to everyone who joined us on the Tour de Lowlands, and cheers to Lowlands Group for sponsoring the series!