We're Sending Our Hardest People To Belgium This Weekend.
Riders on the European continent are spoilt for choice these days when it comes to paying homage to simpler (yet probably more difficult) times.
L’Eroica in Gaiole, Italy has of course long since ceased to be an insider tip, while The Anjou Vélo Vintage in the west of France is gradually snapping at its heels in terms of popularity.
Further north, however, it’s the historic roads of Flanders, Belgium that await passionate Cycling Throwbacks over the coming weekend. The Retro Ronde kicks off this Friday through Sunday, with a roster of events so jam-packed with items of interest to “Flemish Hardman” cultists that it could reasonably be spread out over a fortnight.
The highly irresponsible-sounding “Beer Cycling Contest” gets the ball rolling on Friday.
Riders on stationary bikes are seemingly connected to some kind of hydraulic system which causes a beer glass to tip helpfully in the direction of the riders’ mouths, but only if they’re turning the cranks fast enough.
That’s what it looks like, at least, from one photo that was smuggled out of the highly secret event last year. If anybody has a more plausible explanation, please fire away in our Comments Box.
The collective noun for Flemish Hardmen? A… suggestions welcome over on Facebook.
Other than that, Saturday and Sunday see the region’s hallowed roads shut for Criterium racing, as well as a trio of route options available for the main event.
The organizers this year have a magnificent section on their site which spells out in black and white what sort of machinery and attire is and isn’t toelaatbar. As if we needed telling.
Equally magnificently, when they roll over the start line it will be 100 years to the day since the first ever running of that most venerable of the Spring Classics, The Tour Of Flanders. So if riders feel a slight chill, it’s probably the Hand of History on their shoulders.
Actually, if riders feel a slight chill it’s probably the weather. In recent years the event has been plagued by warm and sunny skies. But not this time out. Retro Ronde racers are virtually guaranteed a bona fide Flemish Hardman Experience on Saturday and Sunday, with icy downpours likely to contribute to more mayhem than usual on the Koppenberg.
We are sure it will all only serve to enrich the quaity of time to be had by participants. And with an unrivaled Retro Bike Parts Swap Meet, and our ever-hard-fought Best Dressed prize up for grabs, any self respecting Brooks owners in the vicinity owe it to themselves to get by for a look.
At any rate, we’ll be back after the weekend with a first hand account of the action from our Hardest Brooks People, who have been trusted with the task of upholding the family honour, and grabbing some film footage while they’re at it.
Wish ‘em luck!