|Old steel steeds, for the most part|
|Fueling before the ride|
There was a motley crew assembled. There were the familiar bikes: the silver Rickert; the red-and-white-Bottechia; the blue Colnago; the blue-and-white Merckx; a pair of Bianchis; the omnipresent and always welcome Gazelles. Mixed in were some less familiar: a fine Legnano; a Saronni Red Colnago; and more than a few modern bikes, including a sinister black Canyon and a white one; a Cervelo R3 and, impressively, a borrowed S-Works Venge. Team Tin Donkey was represented with two tricolori bikes (a Faggin ridden by Nick and my Chesini) as well as my sea-green l'Eroica Peugeot PXN-10, ridden by Enrico, who had been drafted from my office. For both Nick and Enrico this was their inaugural Klassikerausfahrt run, although Nick rode the Rommerskirchen-Düsseldorf Classic organized by the group in June. "Organized" is a loose term: Klassikerausfahrt proudly proclaims: "No club; no duty; no etiquette." It is the least German organization in Germany and in spite of its dedication to classic steel racing bicycles, if anyone shows up with carbon or aluminum underneath them it is all the same as the group is "unbeatably tolerant."
|Enrico, considering leaving the Dark Side of triathlon for the even Darker Side that is retro riding|
We passed where the Kaiserswerth ferry crosses and hooked around the village of Nierst as we made our way to Krefeld and its impressively unattractive harbour. Turning onto the B288, we crossed the bridge over the Rhine. Some of us took the bikepath but others, including myself, missed it and rode on the bridge proper, which was not so nice. But soon enough we were back on a country road.
Well, not all of us. The group pulled in at a country inn after passing some horse farms as the group had gotten split up. While waiting Nick wandered in and had a chat with the proprietor, who donated a little bag of biscuits to him even though we didn't stay around for coffee. We were waiting because, it turned out, at least three of our number had gotten flat tires. As we were to learn later, Enrico was amongst them.
Eventually we headed down the road again, always in on/off light rain. It was not uncomfortable although we never did see that 30 minutes of sunshine but I was thankful that I was wearing a wool jersey, along with a Gore-Tex rain jacket, long-fingered gloves and wool socks so I was warm enough the whole time.
Again at the 35 km mark we had another brief stop between Rahm and Angermund as we waited for the group to reform. A few meters further down the road we passed the ancestral home of the Grafs von Spee, still occupied by the family in its 13th generation and possessing an impressive English-style landscape garden.
|Home Sweet Home, if you are a von Spee (Photo: Creative Commons)|
Soon our group was all back together and I was relieved that we did not have to send out a search party for Enrico, who enjoyed chasing us down at full tilt as he had not been overly impressed by our meandering speed. Our route, which included some pretty rough field paths, brought us soon enough to Kaiserswerth and the Rhine bikepath as we retraced our way back to Ricci-Sport.
All in all we rode 54.07 kms with an early season average speed of 21.17 km/h. And climbed 199 m, which Nick, who lives in a very hilly area, found amusing. It was great to get in the first ride of the season, enjoy the fresh and the good company that makes up the Klassikerausfahrt experience. The next ride should be on Sunday, April 7, although quite of few of us will go to the Stalen Ros racing bicycle market and show in Holland on March 24.
Special thanks to Konrad for getting the coffee ready and to Carsten and all the shepherds who made sure everyone get back, flat tires and all.