Stage 2: Düsseldorf to Liège

Cycling summary

Breakfast: 06:45. Transfer: None. Start time: 08:00. Distance: 203.5km. Terrain: largely flat (1,400 metres climbing) Climbs: two Cat 4. Finish: 17:38. Time in saddle: 7h32

Suffer scores: John 5/10. Alex 5/10

Local lowdown

Today we pass through the Neander Valley, from whence came Neanderthal man until he evolved into a cyclist! Liège is not the prettiest place on earth, but is the home of one of the “monuments” of cycling going out to Bastogne and back. A brutal 270km ride that I did in 2015. Bastogne wasn’t much better but if you like waffles, you’re in business in this area. Liège is called Luik in the Walloon language, and hence why I got lost once as I couldn’t see any signs for the former, though there were plenty for the latter! Prompted me to get a Satnav…..

Tale from the Tour

I was expecting this to be an undistinguished ride – life in northern (industrial) towns including a loop out of Düsseldorf and then back in again – but there were some moments. To start with there was the day’s first puncture – mine.

Obviously a source of amusement to some

What characterised today was the strong headwind that was doing its best to blow us back to Düsseldorf, which would have been a real shame because having been there two days and escaping it once this morning only to have to return we really wanted to stay away!

Shooting the breeze. Breeze? More like a full-on headwind!

We finally made it into Belgium and I was happy to get into the rolling Ardennes countryside which was more my kind of terrain and a lot prettier too.

The wind contributed to the splitting up of the groups, but the most unusual cause of a split was negotiating our way through a carnival which seemed to be celebrating the pig (what the pig has done for us over the centuries etc). I heard one mum say to her young daughter “vite vite cherie come and look at the slaughtered pig that has been cut in half and thrown on the back of a horse drawn cart”. That was the gist of it anyway.

At the carnival. A few goes on the merry-go-round would have looked good on Strava
Thought a picture of half a pig would not be nice

We had earlier negotiated another road block where there were anti-nuclear protesters. I think I somewhat undermined the seriousness of their protest by getting them to cheer on our peloton as we rode up the street!

Note to Stewart. Alex’s “mean cup of tea” turned out to be coffee, and white at that. I think we’ll be ok though. The suffer scores are our entirely subjective assessments. We are expecting rides that are harder than today and hoping for some easier ones!

That’s it. Time to eat and to wash the kit.

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