Monday 23 April 2007

Wanna do the Tour of Flanders ?

1. You don't have to enter the race well in advance. In fact you can enter on the day, though you'll probably pay 25 euros instead of the early bird price of around 15 euros.

2. As this is not a timed cyclosportive it doesn't matter what time you start. Anytime between 7.30am and 10am is ok, though setting off early gives you a clearer run up the bergs.

3. Take clothing with you for all weathers. This year was good as it was fairly sunny, but the weather can turn quite quickly.

4. Most people ride the shorter 140km distance rather than the full 260km, so you can get to "sample" the bergs without it having to be an epic ride, or without you feeling that you were that much of a wimp !

5. The long ride starts in Bruges main square. The organisers lay on an early morning coach to take riders from Ninove to the start in Bruges. If you don't want to use that you can catch the train, though services will be better from Gent in the early morning.

6. Train services between the key towns of Gent, Bruges, Geraadsbergen, Aalst, Oudenaarde, Ninove etc are reasonably good. Belgium Railways take bikes, though they charge 4 euros to carry them.

7. Aside from the whole biking thing there are also the sights.

Bruges is pretty in a quaint, twee sort of way. It's awfully touristic and pretty expensive, though worth the trip so you can get the T-shirt.

Gent is less touristic, more lived in and down-to-earth. It's got 3 picturesque church squares, and a nice canal with Belgian beer gardens along the edge. We particularly liked the Patershol neighbourhood. An arty neighbourhood with character and good quality restaurants that have locals in rather than tourists.

OK - so rendez vous next year !

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