A later start to the day allowed for some much needed sleep. Once we were up and at it we were shuttled to the Team hotel. We hung out on the team bus while plans for the race were shared. We also for introduced to our SRM power meters. If the timing works out the team coach will check out our power numbers after our ride tomorrow.
With the meters mounted we set out for a leisurely ride along a canal with some Team riders including Ted King. We all rotated through and had a chance to chat with the pros. It was a nice change of pace from the previous days. We stopped for coffee in town – many locals peered into the shop, muttering the names of Pro riders wondering if they were inside. (On the ride we passed the BMC team – Thor was on the front. Very odd seeing him out for a ride.)
Some of the Team riders went on a recon ride of the final 60km of the Ronde route – checking out the road surface, finding good lines through the cobbles, etc. It’s interesting to see the inner-workings of the team, and how each rider has a role, and how the non-riders on the team (managers, directors, coaches, soigneurs, mechanics) all work together to create a successful team.
Lunch with the team was followed by a trip to the Ronde van Vlaanderen museum. There is a museum dedicated to a single race – awesome. And that museum has a bar called “Fabian Please Have Mercy”. We checked it out, had a beer, and then were on our way.
Tonight offered up our only free evening of the tour – so we attended the Peter Sagan pre-Ronde press conference! All of the big news/sports outlets were there, along with us! The only noticeable difference was that the reporters were all very serious while we were drinking beer!
In the evening we headed out into the Kortrijk night to find a place for dinner. Ted (aka Ted King, my new BFF) had suggested that we check out the new pop up restaurant in town. When we asked about it at the hotel front desk they said we’d never get in as it is booked up for weeks, it is very popular. And then she said something about media, some words in Dutch, something about TV, and some more Dutch.
We headed for the restaurant. As we approached we found that it truly was a pop up restaurant. It is a few shipping containers placed in the middle of a town square – renovated to create a restaurant. Walking past the windows we could see the staff, but it was completely devoid of customers. We opened the door and a hostess greeted us and said that they are completely booked for the night. We asked if we could eat at the bar but were denied. As we were pleading our case to let three Americans and a Canadian in for dinner an attractive brunette looked us over and said we could come in for dinner. Success!
I mention her attractiveness because it comes into the story right about now…
The restaurant is part of a reality TV show called Mijn Pop Up Restaurant, and as customers of the restaurant we are now on the show. The whole restaurant is wired for sound and vision, and there is a roaming camera crew. We signed our waivers and ordered our dinner. Throughout the evening the camera crew filmed the patrons, and the staff. I’m not sure where the drama comes from that gets people watching, but whatever! The food and service was excellent.
Post-dinner we headed into the Kortrijk night to find a beer or three. We checked out a nightclub before starting to feel our age. At this point we headed back towards our hotel, stopping to wave to the staff at Mijn Pop-Up Restaurant. At this point a few folks were chatting on the street, and they stopped us. We started chatting and several beers later we’d been invited to watch the race at Peter’s house, and enjoy his day long party. The race goes right by his front door. On a normal cycling trip this would be the holy grail – but not on our trip; We’ve got bigger plans… or more precisely DuVine and Cannondale have bigger plans for us!