93rd Ronde van Vlaanderen

My favorite professional bicycle race was yesterday. The Ronde van Vlaanderen is 93 years old and is an amazing tradition in the cycling rich country of Belgium. I spent the summer of 1994 riding the roads of Belgium in an ill fated attempt at cycling glory. If I had only taken some of the “magic pills” that the Belgians were ingesting prior to races, I might have turned into a half decent cyclist. They special substances they were injecting with “bee sting kits” might have helped too.  

The performance enhancing drug culture in cycling has seriously stained the sport over the past 15 years and I got to see it first hand in the amateur ranks. In the past few years, I have consciously tuned out the professional cycling scene because it isn’t about the athletics or the fitness or the health. Of course, it really has never been about health and wellness in the pro ranks. The drug related problems are as old as the sport itself.

There is still drama in the sport and the Spring Classics are my favorite events. I prefer the Classics over the Grand Tours (Giro d”Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana) because it suits my style of riding more. The cobblestone covered farm roads of Northeastern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands are home to some amazing race courses.

Wednesday is Gent-Wevelgem and Sunday is Paris Roubaix. After that is Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallone, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I love all of them, but particularly the Ronde.

I enjoyed reading about yesterday’s edition while sipping a celebratory Grimbergen Double Ale. One of my best ever amateur races in Belgium, was in Grimbergen, and the monks at the abbey in that town brew some fine beer!

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Sites and sounds from Day 2 @gpgloucester #gpgloucester The fog was burning off by the end of the Cub Juniors 9-14 year old race.

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