Things to do in 2022: No 4, Flanders

BELGIUM IS A PLACE ENGRAINED IN CYCLING’S RICH HISTORY AND IS THE SOURCE OF MANY A CYCLING LEGEND. FLANDERS IS CLOSE BY AND IS A PILGRIMAGE FOR MANY A CYCLING FAN

The Tour of Flanders and the Spring Classics see the World Tour teams in Northern Europe for a few weeks as a number of gritty clsssics take place, culminating in two of cycling’s five One Day Monuments, Paris-Roubaix and Ronde Van Vlaanderen (The Tour of Flanders). Both are famed for their cobbles, but the Flandrian race is mainly about cobbled climbs. They are legendary ascents and to knowledgeable cycling fans are as notorious as the famed Alpes from Le Tour. If you don’t know them, buy Simon Warren’s book Hellingen, and you’ll soon want to visit.

Flanders hosts a few Spring Classics as well as Ronde Van Vlaandaren, such as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurnem, Le Samyn, Brugge-De Panne, E3 Saxo Bank Classic, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Scheldeprijs and Brabantse Pijl.

Legendary climbs include: Koppenberg, Oude Kwaremont, Muur Van Geraardsbergen, Taaienberg, Kemmelberg, Paterberg, Oude Kruisberg, Cassel, Eikenberg, Bosberg, Molenberg and more.

A good way to get a feel for what it is like is to ride the RGT platform’s Paterberg, which also features the Kwaremont. Most of the climbs are accessible from Oudenarde and there is a cycling museum there looked after by Belgian cycling legend Freddy Maertens.

A couple of us from West London Cycling, and others are pondering joining us, will be going over to Oudenaarde in early July and then watching the Tour de France in Calais before the journey back. If you want to join us, please contact us by email at westerleydm@gmail.com. Our itinerary is below and you will need to make your own bookings, but if you can book the same hotel in Oudenaarde and similar ferries, then we can all ride the famous bergs together. This will be a pilgrimage you’ll never forget! Ideally, two bikes per car enables travel cost savings.

Friday 1st July* Ferry from Dover to Calais Drive to Oudenaarde Visit Cycling Museum if time

Ferry: P&O 07.45am Dover – Calais

Hotel: Leopold Hotel Oudenaarde

Saturday 2nd July* Ride then Visit Cycling Museum if not visited Friday

Sunday 3rd July* Ride

Monday 4th July Morning Ride, then drive to Calais (stay night in Calais)

Hotel: The hotel we have in Calais is now fully booked. Remember that the Tour de France and its entourage will be visiting Dunkerque, Calais and Lille over this time and hotel space may be limited. We suggest that you find a hotel in the Pas de Calais area or in nearby Belgium and we can all rendezvous on Tuesday morning to watch Le Tour de France from the roadside.

Tuesday 5th July Watch Tour de France Dunkerque – Calais Stage 4 from the roadside then catch evening ferry back to UK

Ferry: P&O 19.05pm Calais – Dover

*Evenings may involve Belgian Beer