In Belgium there is only one god and his name is Eddy Merckx.
Days three and four of our cycling trip with Visit Flanders and Cycling in Flanders were great. So much information and enjoyment it will take a few days to sort out what parts we will be adding to our trips and how we will tweak some other tours to include them.
One of the things I am most excited for is the use of bicycles from Kortweg Cycling. We did a wonderful ride with them on the bikes that are available for us to rent and they were great. As the quote at the beginning of this blog post says Eddy Merckx is a god to all cyclist and even more so here in Belgium. We rode for just under 40 miles on smooth well set up fiets, Dutch for bicycle, and they worked better than almost any other rental I have used. They were of course the brand of the countries cycling hero.
But that was day 4. On Day three we visited the city of Gent. A place we have taken some of you before and will of course be going to again. Gent is a town that in many ways feels much smaller than it is. That is because the people and layout are welcoming and easy to navigate. While this trip focuses on riding you can rest assured that there are numerous places to celebrate with a nice beer or beverage. We did our celebrating on a boat trip we will share with you when you come. With some Champagne appetizers we floated along and drank in the city from the water. Following this we visited a classic spot for gin and went to a dinner again on the water in the heart of town for a food and beer pairing.
Before all of that we checked out a few hotels to stay in and also visited the Eddy Merckx velodrome where many Belgian cyclist train and youth cycling trains the next generation cycling heroes. In Colorado we are lucky to have groups like Cyclismo Youth and PE teachers that bring cycling to the youth. In Belgium it is on a whole different level. While at the track a youth club was practicing and I would bet many of these elementary students would ride me off of their wheel like I was standing still. So cool really.
Our evening closed with a drink at the bar, a Kwaremont named after the famous climb in the Tour de Flanders. Drinking in this cycling rich culture is wonderful!
Day 4- The ride to church...
Day four begin as always with breakfast and talk of cobbles and glory, well at least cycling and coffee. Today was special because Dries, from Cycling in Flanders, had modified our route to include a visit to Jaegher. Jaegher is a 4 generation steel frame builder who has made frames for all of the greats in Belgium over the years. Including of course God...Eddy Merckx. You could feel the history and wonder in this workshop. As we held columbus and stainless tubes all Peter from Velo Classic and I could do was try and figure out how to pull enough money out of the budget to place our orders, and we will place orders!
To our delight Diel joined us for the last portion of our ride to Calitos in Tielt. Carlitos is a cycling cafe that has more cycling memorabillia and history that most places in the States combined. The local beer is named the Pussy, after a cat of course, and the dish I had was balls, meatballs with a cycling story I will share with you another time. As you can only imagine the middle school humor and laughter was on full force and I am happy to report that in crosses all language barriers.
After lunch we rode onto the cycling museum in Roeselare which is being renovated so for the next year it is located in a Catholic church. But as I said this is belgium so the god at this church, approved by the pope, is not Jesus but Eddie Merckx. Complete with a cycling version of the stations of the cross and a confessional with our famous american contribution to the sport enshrined here. It was awesome! I bought some EPO expresso.
Oh and then we went to Brugge which is a worthy of its own blog post. Stay tuned...