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“Flakanders” Proves to be a Classic Day Out for Wheelers.

posted 3 Apr 2017, 05:19 by Kevin Monaghan
(By Shay O'Toole - Sun. 2nd April 2017)   
When it comes to professional cycling, most people will be aware of the big events like the Tour de France or maybe even the Giro d’Italia. However, for cycling enthusiasts, some of the biggest and best races are staged in Belgium in the springtime and these are known as the Cobbled Classics. Chief amongst these races are the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix with both staged over 250 kilometres of some of the most gruelling cobbled lanes and streets in northern Belgium.

Since 17 members of Lakeside Wheelers made the unforgettable trip to “Flanders” in 2011, the club has staged its own version of this famous race. Last Sunday, in glorious sunshine over 85 members rolled out to complete what is now affectionately known as “Flakanders”, which is a tough 130km circuit around some of the hilliest, narrowest and roughest roads in the Mullingar region. For those who have not got the required training done over the winter, or, who just don’t want the torture, there is also an 80km option which is still a significant challenge.
With lead cars kindly driven by our two Joe Duffy’s, the groups were kept controlled and safe on the entire route which brought the riders from Mullingar town centre to Ballymore, to Castlepollard, back to Mullingar and practically everywhere in between. The Wheelers tradition of stopping for coffee and scones was upheld even on this long day in the saddle and where better to rest up, than the harbour at Coolnahay. It was here that the riders got a chance to catch their breaths and be treated to some of the best homemade scones, soda bread and jam in the Mullingar area, compliments of Claire Crinnnegan. 

The spin itself was divided into two main groups, those who want to hammer it and those who just want to get around it. The “hammerfest” crew started at 8am and despite the control car they still held a good pace to the break. Car or no car, there was always going to be a point where this got active and when it did, the usual suspects were to the fore. However, in the final gallop it was none other than Robbie “Lazarus” Kenny who took the honours closely followed home by Mossie Keane.  Members who were happy to roll out at 9am also got a good workout over the 80kms and in the end, everyone enjoyed the day.

So, “Flakanders” is over for another year and with the good weather no doubt contributing to the large turnout, it is definitely proving to be one of the most popular days on the Lakeside Wheelers calendar. Thanks to Joe and Joe for driving, to Claire for the fabulous refreshments and to all members who participated. Thanks also to two of the original “Flandrians”, Mark Monaghan and Robbie Kenny for keeping this novel event alive. Roll on 2018!

Some of the 85-strong participants in today's Flakanders Classic, assembled at Coolnahay refreshment stop.
Some of the 85-strong participants in today's Flakanders Classic, assembled at Coolnahay refreshment stop.