A couple of weekends ago we completed a little trip over to flanders and Roubaix to do our own back to back Ardennes and Cobbles weekends. The flow of both weekends were both pretty similar, drive over the friday, eat drink, ride the sportives of 90 miles the Saturday, then watch/chase the race on the Sunday.
Having recently acquired a new car and roof rack system, gone is the Kangoo and in with the Skoda I was keen to try out the new setup which will take up to 7 bikes, For Flanders we had 5 people and Roubaix 4 plus one being the tandem! With everything strapped down we were off. Drive down to the Eurotunnel was a couple of hours and driving the other side less than 2 hours.
Getting up early is not one of our strong points as you have seen in the past, Roubaix last year we nearly missed the start at 11 due to increased sleep! We were glad that the Flanders sportive offered 4 routes, we originally entered one of the longer routes but this involved a bus ride to the start at ridiculous o'clock so the night before we opted for the slightly shorter route of 90 miles as this still included all the bergs and cobbles but gave us a later start at 10. Flanders and the West Flandrian region is well known for its little short sharp hills known as bergs, the route of the Tour of Flanders had changed some what the last few years and now incorporates a circular route that centres around the capital of the cycling region in Belgium, Oudenaarde.
The route takes in about every possible section of Belgian pave, and berg in the region that have become iconic over the years. Mur, Bosberg, Molenberg, Kemmelberg, Oude de Kwaremont to name a few. The severity of the hills is such that - if you're not on a clear piece of road or cobble and in the top 15 with clear space then you're walking! If you dont have clear space it seems the hills are a mutiny since once one person gets off and walks it blocks the way for the rest behind, the hills are quite narrow at the best of times and so provided much entertainment for the locals spectating and watching people attempt to ride up an 18% hill to then get off and walk.
With about 50 miles done I think most of us were pretty much spent already, the hills and the efforts put in just to get up some of them were ridiculous. This was going to be a 9-10 hour day at the earliest. We made it pretty much all in one piece and the beers and medals were awaiting us at the finish be it some what 9 hours after we started.
Our acommodation B&B passa dia was booked through booking.com and was an absolute dream to stay at. I think it was one of my finds of the year. a converted farm house and barn that has been restored to give several rooms each sleeping between 2-6 people each with their own slight theme made for a comfortable stay. Open all hours honesty bar, free wifi, decent all you can eat breakfast, secure access to garage for bikes, hosepipe and wash gear to even clean your bikes this place was simply amazing. I'd recommend this place as the owners were very easy to get along with, the rooms large and clean and plus they were orientated to cyclists being there and their needs. Ony word of note, if you go to the flanders region most restaurants and bars are closed by 2030 so motto is eat early otherwise you wont get fed!