Cobble Wobble Hobble

by Chikashi

Given the good weather at the weekend, I got up early to take the Brunette‘s red Cattoir out to Oudenaarde for some quality time with the cobblestones.  This time I rode the ‘blue route’ of the permanently sign-posted Ronde van Vlaanderen (80 km).  It’s funny how they saved the climbs and the longest stretches of cobbles to the last quarter…

Cycling in Belgium, I cannot help noticing that cows and horses in Flanders look healthier and cleaner than those in Wallonia.  They eat the same things (grass) and live in more or less the same climate, so why the difference?  On the other hand, cyclists in Wallonia are more courteous than those in Flanders; almost every cyclist down south greet other cyclists whereas only up to half of those up here do, and those that do seem to wait until the other one greets them first.

Cows in the Flemish Ardennes

The initial stretches of cobbles loosened the bolt of the seat pin, with my bum banging against the back, making the nose turn up.  A quick stop to fix the saddle and blow my nose in the clear 3°C morning…  A bit surreal to think that I was riding in 40°C heat in Chianti just 2 weeks ago…

The gravel roads in Chianti are challenging, but the old cobbles are draining in a different way.  One can either love or be ambivalent about the strade bianche, but I don’t think one can hate them.  In contrast, I think one can love AND hate the cobbles.  It provokes complex sentiments.  And quite a few expletives whilst riding on them.

I arrived back at Oudenaarde for a hearty lunch at the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen brasserie and found this hysterical beer, available exclusively at CRVV.  It is an organic blond beer from Brunehaut, rebadged with the parody label, and it fits perfectly in the bike’s bottle cage.