Instead of the antipasti and vino rosso of Siena’s L’Eroica, it’ll be moules frites and lashings of heavily fortified beer this coming Sunday, when devotees of that exotic and near-extinct breed of cyclist, The Flemish Hardman gather in Oudenaarde, Belgium to pay rolling hommage over the potentially (but hopefully not) slippery cobblestones of the Flandrian countryside.
The Retro Ronde has been going since 2007, and Brooks is once again an enthusiatic sponsor of the event. Participants ride their choice out of two routes; the 40km “Jaunt”, or the slightly more taxing 70km “Cold, Wet Hell on Two Wheels”. Though maybe those could be translated differently; our Flemish is a little rusty.
Anyhow, leather hairnets, woollen tricots and the finest in English leather craftsmanship are verplicht, and gear levers (assuming you go in for such newfangled nonsense) need to be on the down tube. And of course, it’s not the Retro Ronde if you’re not sporting the classic Spare-Tube-Hooked-Under-The-Armpits look.
That said, the true Retro Rondeur tends to frown upon this final flourish, implying, as it does, that the wearer doesn’t “run solids”.
But should the unthinkable happen and one of your vintage tubes prove a little too vintage, mechanics in support cars (also vintage) are on hand with period tools to help get you moving again.
At any rate, if you’re running low on anything vintage, make sure to get there by Saturday. The organisers are also running a swap meet, and that first generation Campa Gran Sport you “need” might conceivably be nestling patiently in somebody’s box. Just bring something to swap it for. Like money.
And yet more good news, for the gentleman below, at least, is that this year’s route will be bypassing the notorious Koppenberg, setting for messy, steel-meets-meat mayhem whenever cyclists attempt to ascend it en masse.
Incidentally, if you’re wondering why his face might seem familiar…
Retro Ronde 2011
Sunday 26th June
Click here for more details