On to Flanders

Herman van Tilburg

Saturday, April 1, the day before the Ronde van Vlaanderen, I will try – along with 15,999 other cyclists from 59 different countries – to follow in the footsteps of Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan. My name is Herman van Tilburg. I am 37 years old and the father of two children. I work as a communications specialist and teacher in Amsterdam, and cycling is my passion. In addition to riding, I like to watch races and philosophize with other cycling maniacs.

Since last year I have been involved with BEAT Cycling Club as a communications specialist, trying to do my part to help this great initiative succeed. I believe that with the support of pioneers, supporters and partners, real sustainable change in cycling is possible. This will bring benefits not only to professional cycling but also to ordinary riders and fans.

Telling the story of BEAT Cycling Club and creating visibility is very important. Everyone’s unselfish commitment to make a contribution is admirable and is shown in many ways. On Saturday, obviously, I will show off my BEAT uniform to the peloton and all the fans along the Flemish roads, for 237 kilometers. And no, I do not ride as fast as the pros ... so there will be plenty of time to “ride in the picture.” I also hope that I will encounter other BEAT riders in the peloton so we can possibly ride together a bit. This will be my first time to ride the brutal climbs and cobbled roads and to enjoy this aspect of Flanders, so I am looking forward to the unique atmosphere during “Flanders’ Finest.”

How did I prepare? It’s not my first cyclosportive. I’ve had quite a bit of experience with this distance and am familiar with the Ardennes hills and the real mountains of the Alps, Pyrenees, etc. However, my experience with the Flemish cobblestones is nil, and I have learned from my more experienced training partners that I need to focus on three things: low tire pressure, hands not too tight on the handlebars, and a higher gear. It probably sounds easier than what reality will reveal, but we’ll see what happens. What I know from from experience is that eating and drinking often is essential. So yes, that is my BEAT jersey packed with bars and gels, something my stomach often finds less than appealing during the day and the day after. The most important thing is to have fun and the 200 kilometers are going to be tough.

For cyclists riding their first cyclosportive, I want to give some advice: Make sure your equipment is in order, check your tire pressure, adapt your clothes to the weather, and eat and drink regularly throughout the ride. Of course you can find lots of information online about how to prepare, and there is probably someone among your cycling friends who is experienced.

Sharing experiences is what we find important at BEAT Cycling Club. If we can make a lot of people excited to join BEAT Cycling Club we will soon all be able to share experiences with each other. So we can give each other advice and help each other become better cyclists and achieve our cycling goals.

Next week you can read how I experienced my “Flanders’ Finest,” and maybe I’ll see you on the bike on Saturday. In any case, I wish you a wonderful weekend bike ride on the Flemish roads or elsewhere.

If you take some good photos this weekend cycling in your BEAT jersey, share them on social media with the hashtag #RoadToBEAT.

On to Flanders

Herman van Tilburg