Koppenberg ©KoenDeLanghe
Emma Thomson

Emma Thomson

  • Job: Freelance travel writer and author of Flanders: The Bradt Travel Guide
  • Favorite destination: Belgium
  • Likes:Travel writer, editor, broadcaster, photographer

British travel writer Emma Thomson sends us a monthly blog about her experiences of life in Flanders. This month, she faces Arctic winds and over 150 cobblestoned miles as she tackles the course of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen.

March 2014

A biting Arctic breeze blows across the cobblestones of Brugge’s Markt and clamps its wintry teeth around my hands and legs. Brown geldings shift from leg to leg and their drivers shiver in their carriages as they wait for visitors willing to brave an open-air tour of the city. They eye me with disbelief as I stand astride my bike; teeth chattering as my partner takes photos. “What are you doing?” asks a bemused tourist. “I’m going to attempt to cycle the Ronde van Vlaanderen,” I reply as confidently as possible.

Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen)

On the last Sunday of March, every Belgian man, woman and child will be glued to the TV to watch the annual Tour of Flanders – the road-cycling race event of the year. Renowned for its short, sharp hills and knee-jarring cobblestone sections its been described by 1980s Irish racing legend Sean Kelly as ‘one of the most horrible races to ride, but one of the greatest races to win’. Mere mortals can ride the route too and in honour of its 100th anniversary this year, I was endeavouring to pitch my thighs and tyres against the 159 mile-long trail.

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