Ben and I have been living out in the French alps for the last 5 years and have just got the opportunity (for the first time in a while) to take a couple of months off and do exactly what we want!
Luckily we own a longwheel base T4 Volkswagen which is currently packed to the brim with kit. After finishing work 2 days ago on the 16/02/2014 we drove 1100km across France, Luxembourg and Belgium stopping on the way for a night in Nancy and a stretch of the legs on bikes in Rulles a small farming town in Belgium.
Over the next few months we are hoping to ride some of the most iconic routes and rides in Europe (therefore the world some would argue), so we though sampling some of the infamous Belgium cobbles and long long straights would be rather apt since we are in the area. We were expecting it to be flat and relatively easy riding compared to wintery alpine climbs, however, some of the short, sharp climbs turned out to be a real challenge.
We are currently in Brugge, a truly beautiful city and everyone we discussed plans with strongly recommend visiting here on the way back to the UK. After a slow start to the day, after a few too many strong local beers, we pedaled out to the Dutch coast, down tree lined cycle paths, past windmills and into a constant head wind. It was a new challenge for us after finding a love for road cycling in the alps we haven’t ever done a big flat ride, we thought it was going to be easy but in fact every pedal stroke reflects how much effort you are putting in, there is no coasting anywhere, no big downhill roll post climb but a constant grinding of the pedals for 4 hours. We did managed a 110km loop and loved it but it was much harder than expected.
If anyone is planning on riding cobbles of more than 5 km…double wrap your bars, 2 pairs of shorts and stick on the edges of the roads where it is a little smoother. You have been warned.
We also have really enjoyed being tourists spending the rest of the afternoon wandering the streets and sampling the local specialties of chocolate, waffles, moule frites and STRONG beers (some topping 12%).
Tomorrow we are heading to Dunkirk and catching a ferry over to the UK for a week visiting family and friends with 1 rule for catching up – you have got to do a ride or some kind of activity with us before beers!
We then have a little treat…off to Ibiza for a week in the sun to ride the island with the velo club there.
Here is how it has all looked so far: