“Running shoes, 23, cobblestones, on the Muur”

Another Kermesse today and it was in Gerrardsbergen Belgium. This city is famous for a little climb. A climb called the Muur de Gremont. Gremont is the French name for Gerrardsbergen. This is one of the main climbs used in the Rhonde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) which is a one day world cup in Belgium.
This is a tough climb that is 1.5 kilometers long, cobbled and steep.
Especially steep for the last 500 meters. This madness would not be part of today’s race though.
We arrived at the race well more than our usual schedule of one hour before start time. Levi instantly pointed out the climb to me. We could not actually see it from where we parked but he basically pointed me in the direction. He suggested that I should check it out. I passed as I had to get the bikes off and ready. After I got my bikes off, I walked by Levi again, who then asked if I had gone to see it. I then decided to check it out. I was going to walk there but it was 2k to the top (from where we were parked) and the start was less than 25 minutes away. I decided to take a spare bike. Cedric Vasseurs was easiest, but too big. I took it anyway. I rode off and almost instantly started the climb.
In the plus side was the fact that I knew how to handle a bike, ride cobbles and was excited to check out this piece of cycling history. The negative side was the fact that I was no where near any fitness, wearing running shoes, on a 60 centimeter bike (I ride a much smaller 54 cm bike) and only had a 23 tooth cog with a 39 on the front. Only 100 meters into it and I went for the 23 cog. Ouch! I struggled and was doing most of it at about 30 RPMs. The cobbles are so bad and that makes it hard to find ANY rhythm as you bounce up hill (yes even going as slow as I was). I hit the last 500 meters (the hardest/stepest part) and could barely turn it over. I hit the top completely wasted and was even trying to save something. At the very top there is a small Church. I stopped to admire the hill and the church at the same time. Looking back, the church should be at the bottom so I could have prayed for strength before trying my hand at the Muur.
I returned to our team car to tell Levi that I had done it. He asked how many times I fell over or stopped. I said that I did it without any stopping and he was instantly shocked.
The craziest thing is that this killer hill is after the riders cover over 230 kilometers in the tour of Flanders. After they have been punished by other cobbles and hills. Much respect for the big guns like Johan Musseau now. Our Sports Director, Johan Bruyneel says that they used to have a criterium up the Muur. A 3k crit loop covering the Muur 20 times. He won it twice and was second twice I think he said. Nevada city (classic bike race in California) eat your heart out. That is an easy (race) after climbing the Muur.
Running shoes, only a 23t cog, plus cobblestones and no fitness. Not really enough for the Muur but I did it.
As they say on TV: “Don’t try this at home kids”


Owner of Promechanics.com and long time professional race mechanic.