Billy Kidd

Black & Bike Sponsor’s Ride

As an alternative to the standard ‘Tempo Tuesday’ ride, this week we took the opportunity of an exceptional ride to meet our new club sponsor; Black & Bike Mons. Meeting for a grand depart from the freshly re-branded Black & Bike store (previously Espace) in the zoning Mons Cuesmes gave us the first opportunity to get the club together for a group photo in our new kit, that has finally arrived. Warmly welcomed by the charming and delightful duo of Sébastien and Camille, and after a quick snap under the store’s sign, we split into 3 groups – one for a 68km route, one for a 45km route (although slightly further for those that couldn’t navigate back through Mons!), and a third group who couldn’t spare the time to ride because of other commitments, back into their cars for their homeward trips.

Showing off our new kit with Sébastien and Camille.

Riding through some unfamiliar territory, and following courses plotted by Nils, both rides were soon out of the hustle and bustle of Mons and along the ravels, into unspoiled rolling countryside. Navigating some testing road surfaces at times, a couple of punchy climbs, and a particularly challenging section of pavé for the 68km group, we soon found ourselves into slightly more familiar surroundings close to the French border. Stunning weather again, and exceptionally empty roads, made for a really pleasant ride.

We found a couple of smooth roads!

Warm thanks from the SICC Committee to all those who were available for the team photo opportunity, and a special thank you from the whole club to Sébastien and Camille for hosting, riding with us, and confirming the continuation of the club sponsorship. For those that haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit Black & Bike, I’d certainly recommend that you do. Not only do we benefit from a club discount, but there’s a real sense of community coming from the new management team – plans for weekly local rides from the store to replicate those from the sister store in Charleroi, and a solid focus on building local relationships. Plus an exceptionally warm welcome from a clearly very professional team – thanks again Sébastien and Camille.

Billy Kidd

La Binchoise 2022

With the offer of a second (imperial) century ride of the month from El Presidente, who couldn’t resist the temptation of an 0700 10°C start, against the promise of clear skies, a light breeze, and later temperatures in the mid-20s? Clearly, the majority of SICC members could resist, and so just six of us made it to the 0800 Binche start line for the annual Cyclo La Binchoise. With route options of 80, 100 or 120 km, we separated into two groups around the 30 km mark, the first following the 80 km route, the second on the 120 km route. Both courses, heading south from Binche, followed some well ridden Hinault roads, with potholes aplenty to keep us awake. Once south of the Sambre at Lobbes, the roads miraculously become much smoother, and the scenery opened up into a beautiful rolling landscape.

At the start line in Binche (fines for those not sporting this year’s jerseys!)

Taking in the Cerfontaine lakes and touching the outskirts of Chimay, the 120 groupetto settled in to a most productive paceline. With a return leg skirting through the forested borderlands before crossing back into the Hainault road system at Merbes-le-Chateau, which one day I must actually stop in as it looks quite charming. Anyway, considering the language barrier of having un Belgique, a Brit, and un Italiano in the group, we posted a half decent speed over the course of the day (29.4 kph for my 172.6 kms ridden) – I’m sure largely due to our misinterpretation of fives; Fred was doing 5 km pulls, I was on 5 minute pulls, and Pino was pulling until he could no longer favella! Back in Binche for a swift half refreshment, recognising the shiny new SICC team jersey colours the Bürgermeister caught up with us to thank us for taking part, before we were back on the bikes for the last 20 kms back to SHAPE – I shouldn’t really mention it, but as we crossed Rue Grande, one of the team remembered that he’d driven to Binche that morning…

A well deserved carb re-load