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Twelve Days in Belgium:
 The Northern Classics 2002

Story and Images by Tony Szurly
Copyright (c) by Tony Szurly 2002. All rights reserved.


Editor's Note: DP Reader Tony Szurly spent 12 days in Belgium watching the great races, touring and riding the courses. In the first installment, Tony tells us about the Ronde van Vlaanderen. This is the second of his reports for the Daily Peloton.

Part Two - Mapei, Merckx and Chocolate (continued)


We rode 100km from Gent to Brugge and back, tracing the first 40 km of the Gent-Wevelgem parcours. The route was flat and windy on small winding farm roads and our group huddled together to stay out of the wind. There are these well-maintained bike lanes that run alongside some of the bigger roadways but I could not get over the feeling I was riding up on the sidewalk, about to meet someone walking along with their head down. The motorists were all extremely patient and we saw hundreds of people on bikes throughout the day. We pulled over in the beautiful city of Brugge for a café stop. The café owners had hosted Dave Rayner when he was racing in Belgium and were keen cycling fans. They let us put our bikes in a small side room while we sat outside in the sun.

What a contrast from the previous Sunday, when the town was hosting the Ronde start and half the town was barricaded off. We stopped in a local bike shop on the way back and bought up all the Domo caps. One of the guys in our group and not on the ride had been trying in vain to buy some Domo kits and the plan was to meet him on the bus the next morning, all sporting the caps on cue.


In the Grote Markt


Later that day, we visited a Belgian chocolate factory in Gent. The shop was run by Mr. and Mrs. Luc Van Hoorebeeke. He wore the Belgian colors on his collar so we asked him if he was the Belgian Champion of chocolate making. Plenty of samples to go around and a nice box of chocolates to take home to my wife.

Mr. and Mrs. Luc Van Hoorebeeke's Chocolate Factory

That night we went to a bar that served a beer called Maximus in a 2 foot long funnel glass that had a round bottom and needed a wooden stand to hold it. They must have had people try to take the glasses because I had to take off my shoe and leave it as ransom for the beer. They took the shoe and hoisted it up to the ceiling in a wire cage and I didn't get it back until I finished the beer and gave the glass back. Also tried Afligem, Duvel and Satan Gold beers. We christened the place the "Shoe Bar."

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