Beers of Belgium CC Store now live

Please drop an email to fendrieneu@gmail.com for the password to get to order.

https://cycle-clothing.co.uk/product-category/team-stores/clubs/beers-of-belgium-cc/

The range now includes the jersey, cycling cap and T-shirt.

Thanks for supporting a home based company in Cycle Clothing UK

Missing my favourite bar in Brugge

21 Draughts, still talked about to this day.

A nondescript ferry from Hull to Zebrugge on a December Saturday evening in 2014 probably isn’t the start point for too many Belgian beer related tales. However this one starts on the vessel locals affectionately call “The Party Boat” offering super cheap weekend trips abroad to Amsterdam and Brugge.

It was £35 return including cabin and coach transfer and isn’t much more expensive now. The cabins are best described as snug. My Brother in Law who is a submariner uttered the words “Bloody hell, its tight in here” when we went in to claim our bunks.

I had a pre determined reason to go to Brugge that weekend. It was partially Christmas shopping and partially recce for my trip to the Ronde Cyclo for the following spring. What followed was something quite special!

We left the ferry and took the coach into Brugge before meeting up with a friend of mine (another cycling nut) from Amsterdam. The train and coach station converged so it was easy to meet up before sauntering across the cobbles into town.

I know that people criticise Brugge for being commercialised and more expensive than other towns in Flanders but there is a magic and ambience to the place that I think is unique.

After getting a breakfast we looked for somewhere to quench the sort of thirst only a night bobbing about in the North Sea can give you. 21 Draughts was the destination we found.

The service and expertise were amazing and it was there I took my first sips of delights such as Brugge Trippel and Bornhem, drinks that remain on my list to this day.

As opposed to getting out and sightseeing for the day, we didn’t leave until we needed to catch the last shuttle to the boat back to Hull, only pausing for a cone of frites and mayo… naturally.

When I went back for the RVV cyclo the bar was still there and the wife enjoyed one too many before driving to Oudenaarde to meet me the next day after the sportive. However the next time we went back to the town the bar was closed and gone.

21 Draughts is still loved and talked about in our family and much missed. A lovely spot just back from the square and reasonably stocked and priced.

It’s trips and experiences like these that make my love for Flanders and its ale so strong, and despite my favourite bar no longer being there, I hope one day to take the foam off one in the the town.

When cyclists are their worst enemy

Now dont get me wrong… I am a cyclist and I love cycling.

However in my part of the world their is a small knot of riders who appear to be above saying hello to others and look down on motorists.

Surely we should be working to share the roads not have one vehicle or other have any level of supremacy?

Over the weekend I saw a couple of large groups whilst I was out riding alone. On a narrow single track lane a mini peloton coming the other way made no effort to avoid their spread over the road leaving me with the choice of a less than 2 metre gap or a ditch.

They offered no wave of acknowledgement either. They were in the zone and racing.

The following day whilst out on an essential car journey I came up behind a group of three riders on a similarly narrow lane. There was already a car behind them and another two joined the tail behind me.

No-one could get by for almost a mile despite the cyclists looking back and seeing the gaggle of motorists behind them.

And whilst I accept and understand that there is no obligation for the riders to slow up or single up to let the cars through, it would be courteous and show that we understand that the roads are shared spaces.

I do accept that there are some terrible motorists out there, I get my right elbow hair shaved off by wing mirrors regularly, but maybe its time for us to admit that there are some terrible cyclists as well?

Reading some social media and forums it seems that there is a war to be fought on the roads. A war where middle aged males in Rapha kit riding expensive Specialized bikes feel the need to express their right to ride.

It doesn’t need to be like that. We are all just trying to get somewhere.

So why don’t you try letting a motorist pass you on a narrow road if you can. They might acknowledge it with a wave, they might not. But you will have avoided raising their blood pressure so they might considerate to a horse or pedestrian at the next junction.

Pay it forward, it feels good and might diffuse a bit of this perceived tension.

The ugly Alp?

Cyclist magazine has run its top 100 climbs in this months magazine.

Strangely as I thumbed up and down the list, Alp D’Huez was only just able to scrape into the top 50.

I agree with the magazine’s protestation that its not the most visually endearing climb as you ride up it or on the white knuckle descent back down it.

I also concur that there are more scenic routes nearby with the Sarenne and Villard Regulas. I would also say that the summit of the Croix der Fer is more appealing.

I also agree that the town at the top is set up to take cyclists credit cards and hammer them! The first time I rode up I wobbled my way back down with a jersey and a bottle stuffed down the back of my jersey.

But.

When your wheels go over the roundabout out of Bourg D’Oisans and turn left past the campsite you are transported to a different world.

A world where Steve Rooks and Andy Hampsten are grinding their way up through the forested area. Where a wide eyed teenager would watch the tv highlights before heading out across the fens looking for a flyover or small drag to get his jersey zipper open to imitate his heroes.

So whilst if you judge it purely on aesthetics there are better climbs, if you judge it on the experience of riding up it in the wheel tracks of legends, there is none better.

Lance battles for relevance

urgh.

I thought Oprah was the end of this sorry tale, but it seems Lance Armstrong, fresh from the success and positive reviews of his Wedu podcast is back in the forefront of the cycling media.

To be honest I think a lot of people who would class themselves as “into” cycling are probably so far over the American and his negative impact on the sport that we will be able to take or leave the ESPN documentary.

The fact this is the second programme to offer the truth with no holes barred makes me sceptical for a start.

But he has apologised to Stephanie McIlwain of Oakley and Fillipo Simeoni who he hounded out of the sport along with his primary targets Christophe Bassons and Betsy Andreu.

For me this is too little too late. I still remember the tweet with all the yellow jersey’s on the wall post being found guilty of doping. There are ways to make amends to the people he hurt directly. A TV show which propels him back into the limelight isn’t one of them.