Thursday, July 17, 2008

#317 Tour of Flanders

When it comes to bicycle races, most Americans know about the Tour de France. But worldwide, Belgium's annual Tour of Flanders race is also among the most prestigious. The hilly cobblestone roads of the Flanders region in the Belgian Ardennes have lured bicycle racers since 1913. So from our port in Antwerp, I joined an enthusiastic group of SAS cyclers for a short bus ride to Oudenaarde where we strapped on our helmets, adjusted our saddles, and hit the streets.
The Tour of Flanders route always passes through Oudenaarde and the Tour of Flanders museum there documents the race history. It's a bicycle-friendly city in a bicycle-crazy country. Our first climb was across the bridge over the River Scheldt where about 50 miles downstream the MV Explorer was docked in Antwerp. It would not be our last climb. Shortly, we were away from town and climbing a hill so steep, a good number of us chose to walk. Past windmills, watermills, and fields of corn, wheat, and potatoes we rode.
We covered more than 18 miles, a good part of it on bone-jarring cobblestones.
In the end, I gained a new respect for those professional cyclists who take the Tour of Flanders challenge.

Yours in appreciating the pleasure of bicycling on smooth asphalt,


  1. Mary, You didn't join in the bicycling fun. Quel Domage.

  2. I'm not crazy! I chose a trip to the EU in Brussels instead - a bit more relaxing.