Despite the early morning finish on SBS television it was great to watch Simon Gerrans' assault to the line in the world's oldest cycling race, Belgium's Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The final kilometre up the eleven percent gradient of the Côte de Saint-Nicolas was every bit as exciting as a flat-stage finish in the Tour de France. Bring on the Giro d'Italia-in just two weeks.
One of the eleven climbs along the 263-kilometre route is the Côte de la Redoute, which is approximately 30 kilometres from the finish. I have been fortunate enough to climb it (twice), while chasing 'silly' hillocks in Belgium.
I’m sure if I’d attempted the entire ride I would have felt differently, but I was really only here out of curiosity, simply to experience the climb. Being a Sunday, I was one of many riders tackling the 1.7 kilometres of graffiti-covered road. It was a pretty easy climb (with an average of 9.5%), except for two very steep sections of about fifty metres in length.
The morning was one of brilliant sunshine and the nearby smell of barbecuing sausages. It doesn’t matter whether you’re puffing your guts out and dripping with sweat, barbecued meat and fried onions still has that alluring smell. I just had no saliva left to salivate. It reminded me all too much of the restaurant on top of Arthurs back home, where having climbed the mountain a few times, we scoff down a pastry or two, or scones with thick dollops of jam and cream. I resisted the temptation this time however, as I had more climbing to do – the Mur de Huy...'