Monday in Belgium

Big day planned, metro train to Gare du Midi rail station and then rail to Oudenard, small town where the Tour of Flanders finishes plus the cobbled climb of the Koppenberg is not far away. easier day then yesterday because there is no time-table to get there. A beauty of a day, sunny and only a slight chill. We ride out-of-town following Google Maps hoping to find the famous climb. A ways out-of-town we find a side road that leads to a climb but no cobbles. At the top we find a road that says Koppenberg but…

A few other riders are on the road, we must be close. Yes, there is the top of it! But how do we get to the bottom? Back down what looks like the course after the climb. Dam, the roads are narrow and not that great and there is cow dung along the way as well.

Finding the start of the climb is a challenge but with the help of a local trail map on a post and a mountain bike trail we find our way to the base of the climb. Oh crap, it doesn’t look that long but it certainly looks steep. A few pictures and then time to climb. My bike is equipped to climb big hills, compact gearing with smallest gear of 34/32 so doable, right? I start-up first and realize right away I might as well go to the easiest gear I have right away, I’ll be there soon enough anyhow. The cobbles are tough, very rough. I go to the right side gutter cobbles which is better but the gutter ends part way up. Back to the center, crap the grade just got a lot steeper and I get driven all the way to the left and then to the right where I need to get off before falling. Looking up, it’s not that far to go, humm. I decide to walk down and try again. Back on and as I ascend I hear vehicles behind me and realize there may not be room for an amateur and cars at the same time. Off the bike again. The long walk back down until I can mount and start again. I make it further this time but the same far left to far right swing occurs and then I hit the steep side berm and fall over to the left. I’m done. Time to walk but as I clear the steep bit I see a chance to remount and finish with a little dignity. Bushy is waiting at the top as I crest and take a break. Now I have an even better appreciation why the professionals are called pros.

Anti climatic ride to the town, which is a great same town with a central square that is under going major reconstruction. A coffee shop stop for a pannokuken and coffee. A stop in the Oudenard bicycle museum, very fun and interesting with a lot of history on the classic bike races and the legends that rode them.

Back on the train to home BNB.