...plus Belgian chips equals the only place to be this weekend.
The title of ‘Ravissantste RetroRondeRenner’ is once again up for grabs this weekend in Flanders, which obviously means that the 2012 Retro Ronde is soon upon us. If your Flemish is a little rusty, allow us to explain that Brooks is sponsoring the prize for Most Ravishing Retro Ronde Racer.
Of course, one rarely needs an excuse to decamp to the Belgian countryside for a spin, but with the Retro Ronde taking place in Oudenaarde on Sunday, and the Tour de France Prolog in nearby Liège the day before, it would surely be madness to pass up this tailor-made bicycling-related chance of indulging our appetite for beef-fat-fried chips.
Like its Italian counterpart L’Eroica, the Retro Ronde is rooted firmly in Simpler Times. Riders’ jerseys are typically of wool, their saddles, unsurprisingly, of leather, and their rehydrating fluids decidedly beery.
It’s the sixth installment of a race which takes its participants on one of two routes around Flanders, one of them a pleasant 40 km jaunt, the other a 70 km Afternoon in Hell.
The most plausible looking Throwbacks will be recipients of these fine carved saddles from Michiel Van den Brink…
A pair of copper riveted Swifts, carved commemoratively for the Retro Ronde.
Andre Dierckx, Freddy Maertens, Johan Museeuw… the “Flemish Hardman” is a breed of pro cyclist perhaps best typified in the Modern Era by Irish road legend Seán Kelly, so membership of this group was/is clearly not contingent on the provenance of one’s passport.
By the same token, the Retro Ronde is a local yet global celebration of the climate, landscapes and attitudes which spawned and shaped these riders.
And if the entertainment in Liège on Saturday is not to your taste, visitors are advised that Oudenaard will be hosting its own form of “Prologue” on the same day. A Swap & Sell antique and retro bicycle fair, followed by a “Bierfeesten”. Oh come on! Surely your Flemish isn’t that rusty…