Frosty Flanders

Hard earnedOne short cycling trip that’s becoming sort of a tradition, is my “Tour of Flanders”. For the third year in a row, I cycled around the city of Oudenaarde, location of the Center for the Tour of Flanders in Oudenaarde (link).

As Paula is participating in the Belgian Open (Mahjong Tournament), these trips are “solo” and since my first attempt on the road bike, I now ride them on my 29er. I’ve learned the hard way that during the type of weather that is common this early in the year, the cobblestones – and especially during uphill sections – require a skill I have yet to master.

While not impossible, it’s a lot harder to crash on these when on bike with fat profile tires and supspension – the additional weight, some 10 kilograms, obviously matter during uphills, but I’ll take that over painfully crashing any day…

And sure enough, the weather forecast was grim, so I packed extra warm and protective clothing. Surprisingly though, Saturday it hardly rained at all – it was windy and cold, but whenever the sun peeked through the clouds, it was almost agreeable – enough to get a fair bit of riding in.

Sunday however, I sheltered inside the center for a long time, doubting that going out at all was a good idea. I eventually decided to do so anyway, but I didn’t wander far and I endured the weather for about an hour and a half, returning just in time to still be able to change clothing myself…

Also traditionally, I frequently get lost during my trips in Flanders. I have to admit that all three loops are adequately signposted – but these signs sometimes get nicked, covered by other – cycling sportive’s – signposts or are so rapidly following each other up in series of turns, that I just can’t seem to keep up with them.

Plus, road works are a forever ongoing thing here as well and that doesn’t help much either. I’ve also tried to let my Garmin Edge (810) guide me, but that was a bust too, especially if there was a deviation. Hopefully the Wahoo ELEMNT (IF I @$#% EVER RECEIVE ONE!!!) will do better. For now, I load the route into the Strava app, or I use Galileo if I want to be able to see more than one (or save on roaming costs).

However, that means that if you do need to check your phone, you’ll need to stop, get it out of your back-pocket – the one in your ‘saver’ bottom layer, obviously – and figure out how to get back on track – as I was also wearing long-fingered gloves this time, that meant I had to take those off and after a while, that gets tiresome.

And during Sunday’s ride, this was just plain unpleasant and another reason I didn’t last that long – as I did not follow a particular loop, but rather tried to combine a bit of the red and blue one, I needed to check even more frequently.

Saturday’s Yellow Loop / Sunday’s Purple Loop

 

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