Flanders / Roubaix

Mar 18, 2009
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Hello all,

I'm coming over to see these two races and would appreciate some insight. I'll be staying in Antwerp for majority of my stay and want to know if it's worth renting a car for Flanders in an attempt to catch the riders over an early cobbled climb then race towards the finish to see the end.

Same thing for Roubaix...is it worth renting a car and checking out race twice or is it best to hang out all day in the Velodrome?

Thanks.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Roubaix

If you know your way around, you can definitely watch the race on multiple places. I went to section 18, Trouée d’Arenberg and then drove to Roubaix, Velodrome. On your way to the velodrome you can even catch a glimpse from other sections from highway overpasses. Just make sure you don't get lost on your way to the paves. Besides, they are not exactly made to accomodate lots of people parking right there, so you might want to consider parking closest to where you want to leave and head for Roubaix, otherwise you're at the back of the queue...
 
Mar 17, 2009
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Get a good map and get an idea for where you're going and you;ll be be to catch both races multiple times.
Flanders:
The route double-backs a lot around the bergs. Just make sure you park somewhere with a quick escape route and don't lose your keys in a field like I did. If you want to see the race at the Muur de Geeradsbergen, you'll need to make that the one objective. I haven't studied this years route, but I'd try for a two or three of the bergs around the Oude Kwaremont area and then find a bar to watch the end of the race in.

Roubaix, same applies except you'd be beter to look for pave sections further apart. Can be tricky as well as you might need to cross the route so there is a risk of getting stuck when they close the roads. Arenberg Forest is a great place to watch. Orchies is close to the motorway and then aim for one of the last sections.

Also, you should really go and watch Gent-Wevelgem on the wednesday. A great race to watch, you can see it twice on the Kemmelberg and then cram in to one of the nearby bars to watch the finish.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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azrider said:
Hello all,

I'm coming over to see these two races and would appreciate some insight. I'll be staying in Antwerp for majority of my stay and want to know if it's worth renting a car for Flanders in an attempt to catch the riders over an early cobbled climb then race towards the finish to see the end.

Thanks.
Doing 1 cobbled climb & the finish is possible. But you have to know your way around, and it that specific part of Flanders it's not always easy with the small countryroads etc.

If you're talking about an early cobbled climb, you're talking about the Molenberg (km130; 3hours of racing to go), Oude Kwaremont (km180; 2hours of racing to go), Paterberg (km184) & Koppenberg (km190).

For all 4 climbes, you need to be there at least 1 hour before the riders. These are the most spectacular climbes so they are incredibly popular.

The advantage of The Molenberg is that this one is situated the closest to Ninove (Meerbeke, where the finish is; a 40min drive). The other 3 are 20-30km further to the south-west. With 3 hours of racing ahead, you'll have plenty of time to drive to Ninove (but be aware of the chaos there: roads closed, the RVV for women, a lot of people, hard to find a parking spot). But when you get there, you can still follow the finale live on the big screen. The disadvantage of the Molenberg is that's one of the shortest, most narrow and invisible (due to the trees & houses and the corners of the climb) climbs. And there is the obligatory traffic jam of riders & cars at the bottom of it.

The next 3 cobbled climbes are a lot better to see the riders but IMO, they are too close to the finish to comfortably drive back to Ninove (you'll spent at least 1h15" in your car and the further the riders get into the race, the bigger the traffic mayhem). Besides that, you'll miss the key moves & tactics during the race.

So is there an alternative? Yes. If I were you, i'll go see the riders on the cobbles of Kerkgate/Mater (km 135, right after the Molenberg, a nice village). It's a 3km cobblestone section that is not mentioned in the roadbook as an official climb. Well then, how come I only manage to "climb" it at a speed of hardly 14km/h?? I know, i'm not a pro; but I do know the first part of that section (before the church) is not flat at all (on the top of my head: a gradient of 9-10%). The road there is quite broad, there are few corners, so you should be able to see the peloton coming from a certain distance. It's also safe there as fences are put on the sidewalk to prevent riders to ride there instead of the cobbles. Right after this cobbled section (where the riders take a right turn towards the Wolvenberg), you need to take a left and you immediately get onto the N8 road which connects Oudenaarde directly with Brussels. Just follow that road (you'll pass the village of Brakel) and after a 40min drive you're in Ninove.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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I'm making the pilgrimage for the first time this year, and taking in the three.

I'm staying in Geraardsbergen, so I'll be on the Muur.

Moving on to Kortrijk then, and cycling out to the Kemmelberg for the two crossings of it.

Finally, cycling down to Roubaix and getting into the velodrome early to soak up the atmosphere (apparently there is a great buzz there) and watch the race on the big screen up to the arrival.

Any recommendations about how early to arrive at these spots from those who have before? Aside Garaardsbergen, I'll be travelling by bike from Kortrijk.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Bluebeard said:
I'm making the pilgrimage for the first time this year, and taking in the three.

I'm staying in Geraardsbergen, so I'll be on the Muur.

Moving on to Kortrijk then, and cycling out to the Kemmelberg for the two crossings of it.

Finally, cycling down to Roubaix and getting into the velodrome early to soak up the atmosphere (apparently there is a great buzz there) and watch the race on the big screen up to the arrival.

Any recommendations about how early to arrive at these spots from those who have before? Aside Garaardsbergen, I'll be travelling by bike from Kortrijk.
Every year there are some crazy fools sitting in a foldable seat on the steepest part of the Muur with a portable radio against their ear about 4 hours before the riders arrive...
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Wow guys thanks so much for the info. I'm not familiar at all with the area so i'm hoping my old freind that i used to work with knows the area well enough that he can drive me around without getting lost. I would hate to miss out on a battle on the berg but then again would be just as ****ed if i missed an awesome finish.

I still have a lot of planning to do.......

Thanks again to all that have given some ideas....KEEP THEM COMING!!!
 
Mar 18, 2009
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il_fiammingo said:
Doing 1 cobbled climb & the finish is possible. But you have to know your way around, and it that specific part of Flanders it's not always easy with the small countryroads etc.

If you're talking about an early cobbled climb, you're talking about the Molenberg (km130; 3hours of racing to go), Oude Kwaremont (km180; 2hours of racing to go), Paterberg (km184) & Koppenberg (km190).

For all 4 climbes, you need to be there at least 1 hour before the riders. These are the most spectacular climbes so they are incredibly popular.

The advantage of The Molenberg is that this one is situated the closest to Ninove (Meerbeke, where the finish is; a 40min drive). The other 3 are 20-30km further to the south-west. With 3 hours of racing ahead, you'll have plenty of time to drive to Ninove (but be aware of the chaos there: roads closed, the RVV for women, a lot of people, hard to find a parking spot). But when you get there, you can still follow the finale live on the big screen. The disadvantage of the Molenberg is that's one of the shortest, most narrow and invisible (due to the trees & houses and the corners of the climb) climbs. And there is the obligatory traffic jam of riders & cars at the bottom of it.

The next 3 cobbled climbes are a lot better to see the riders but IMO, they are too close to the finish to comfortably drive back to Ninove (you'll spent at least 1h15" in your car and the further the riders get into the race, the bigger the traffic mayhem). Besides that, you'll miss the key moves & tactics during the race.

So is there an alternative? Yes. If I were you, i'll go see the riders on the cobbles of Kerkgate/Mater (km 135, right after the Molenberg, a nice village). It's a 3km cobblestone section that is not mentioned in the roadbook as an official climb. Well then, how come I only manage to "climb" it at a speed of hardly 14km/h?? I know, i'm not a pro; but I do know the first part of that section (before the church) is not flat at all (on the top of my head: a gradient of 9-10%). The road there is quite broad, there are few corners, so you should be able to see the peloton coming from a certain distance. It's also safe there as fences are put on the sidewalk to prevent riders to ride there instead of the cobbles. Right after this cobbled section (where the riders take a right turn towards the Wolvenberg), you need to take a left and you immediately get onto the N8 road which connects Oudenaarde directly with Brussels. Just follow that road (you'll pass the village of Brakel) and after a 40min drive you're in Ninove.
you the man...thanks!!!
 
Mar 10, 2009
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il_fiammingo said:
Every year there are some crazy fools sitting in a foldable seat on the steepest part of the Muur with a portable radio against their ear about 4 hours before the riders arrive...
Make that some crazy fools plus 1!

Anyone know where I can get a foldable seat in Geraardsbergen:D
 
Mar 17, 2009
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azrider. We went there with nothing more that a large-scale map of the area and the route guides from the official websites. Spend a bit of time reading them and you'll be sorted, espcially with the info above from il flammingo We didn't get lost.

If you end up around the Oude Kwaremont/Paterberg area and you like your beer, the local brewery make a special "Oude Kwaremont" ale. It's only brewed/sold for Flanders weekend*

Bluebeard - The Kemmelberg starts to get busy from mid-late morning. Plenty of people in the bars in Kemmel. Also plenty of people riding up the climb, it's not too tough if you take it steady. Lots of nice cycling roads in those parts.

I'm getting envious now, wish I was going back there this year.


*This may be a complete fabrication, but it's what I was told by one of the locals who bought one of the said beers.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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azrider said:
Wow guys thanks so much for the info. I'm not familiar at all with the area so i'm hoping my old freind that i used to work with knows the area well enough that he can drive me around without getting lost. I would hate to miss out on a battle on the berg but then again would be just as ****ed if i missed an awesome finish.

I still have a lot of planning to do.......

Thanks again to all that have given some ideas....KEEP THEM COMING!!!
BTW, nobody here is doing the cyclotourist version of the Ronde on saturday?
http://www.sport.be/cyclingtour/rondevanvlaanderen/2009/eng/
 
Mar 11, 2009
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Not being one for dashing about the place

I have always found one of the best ways to enjoy these events is to find a local bar that has a TV. Not one of those modern flat screen jobbies but something 30 years old perched high on a shelf in the corner of the room. Find yourself a seat where you can see the screen but more importantly the small number of grumpy old men, leaning on the bar, sucking on their Gauloises (illegal in bars now!) and drinking large quantities of the local brew - because watching these guys is far better than trying to follow the commentary on the box. They will let you know by there groans and grunts what they think of the riders on screen, the chances of the latest break-away, who's hot and who's not - better theatre you will not find anywhere. If you are feeling bold you might even want to try and start up a conversation - well maybe not!

You can pick your moment to run out into the road (across the street, field, muddy dike... or whatever) to see and cheer your heroes as they scoot past and then return to the bar to watch the race unfold. No better way to get the right mix of action and local colour!
 
Mar 11, 2009
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180mmCrank said:
I have always found one of the best ways to enjoy these events is to find a local bar that has a TV. Not one of those modern flat screen jobbies but something 30 years old perched high on a shelf in the corner of the room. Find yourself a seat where you can see the screen but more importantly the small number of grumpy old men, sucking on their Gauloises (illegal in bars now!) and drinking large quantities of the local brew
The Carrefour de L'Arbre cafe opens once a year, for the race. It's a great place to see the race, being on the last section of the cobbles. I don't know if there is a TV but you could see the race earlier and then get to the village of Gruson to get to the Taverne de l'Arbre. The atmosphere is excellent. Picon is the local beer.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Jarvis said:
Bluebeard - The Kemmelberg starts to get busy from mid-late morning. Plenty of people in the bars in Kemmel. Also plenty of people riding up the climb, it's not too tough if you take it steady. Lots of nice cycling roads in those parts.
Excellent, thanks Jarvis:)
 
Mar 11, 2009
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azrider said:
Wow guys thanks so much for the info. I'm not familiar at all with the area so i'm hoping my old freind that i used to work with knows the area well enough that he can drive me around without getting lost. I would hate to miss out on a battle on the berg but then again would be just as ****ed if i missed an awesome finish.

I still have a lot of planning to do.......

Thanks again to all that have given some ideas....KEEP THEM COMING!!!

I recommend you try and order in advance

Benelux & North of France, Michelin Map, spiral bound, I recently paid £12
ISBN 978-2-06-714294-7

Go to Tour of Flanders web site rvv.be ? Print off the "Road Map". Armed with these two bits of stuff, plan where you want to watch, if your thinking of multiple sightings, plan where you park very carefully.....lots of people all trying to do what you are doing,but it is very exciting.

But best of all get in a decent Bar with a big TV for the finish..enjoy the banter....oh and have a Duvel or two :)
 
Mar 30, 2009
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I am also uninitiated, its first time to Flanders and I'm floundering! Driving to Gent, planning to camp (in a field somewhere?!?), riding the sportive on Saturday, and losing my voice on Sunday. Any advice would be much appreciated!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
You know what? You can all go straight to he.....well, I hope you have a good time, but honestly, I hate you.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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jerryk said:
I am also uninitiated, its first time to Flanders and I'm floundering! Driving to Gent, planning to camp (in a field somewhere?!?), riding the sportive on Saturday, and losing my voice on Sunday. Any advice would be much appreciated!
What distance will you be doing?
 
Mar 30, 2009
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Well...I missed the online application closing date, so Im just turning up at 7am, and hoping I can pay on the spot to do the full distance!

Im more concerned about race-day to be honest - I have a car, a friend, a map, GPS, and lots of Duvel, so it could get interesting! Im not sure how many places to try and see the race, and Im worried about getting stuck in traffic or road closures. I'd be happy seeing it at three good spots, and then finding a nice outdoor area or bar with a big screen to watch it (I'd love to get to the finish area, but that might be difficult from what I hear). But again, I have no idea where to start!

I saw your earlier post il_fiammingo, and it was very helpful, but any more info would be much appreciated. Thanks!!!

Oh, and I Im planning on taking my own camping gear, so can anybody recommend somewhere to pitch a tent?
 
Mar 19, 2009
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jerryk said:
Well...I missed the online application closing date, so Im just turning up at 7am, and hoping I can pay on the spot to do the full distance!

Im more concerned about race-day to be honest - I have a car, a friend, a map, GPS, and lots of Duvel, so it could get interesting! Im not sure how many places to try and see the race, and Im worried about getting stuck in traffic or road closures. I'd be happy seeing it at three good spots, and then finding a nice outdoor area or bar with a big screen to watch it (I'd love to get to the finish area, but that might be difficult from what I hear). But again, I have no idea where to start!

I saw your earlier post il_fiammingo, and it was very helpful, but any more info would be much appreciated. Thanks!!!

Oh, and I Im planning on taking my own camping gear, so can anybody recommend somewhere to pitch a tent?
I believe you can still pay in Bruges on Saturday.

Honestly, i do not have any experience in getting to see the riders multiple times during the RVV. However i do it often during the races leading up to the RVV. The big difference is the number of people. Seeing the riders as many times as possible has become a sport over here and we kind of have gotten to the point of saturation. Quite some newspaper published articles about the police paying special attention to these people in terms of speeding, parking, alcohol and (i litteraly translate from dutch) "wild peeing". After a few Duvels you'll probably be "wild peeing" alongside the road as well but if you get caught, it'll be an expensive one.

I alway use my worst case scenario because i don't like the stress of not getting on time at a certain place (i rather just wait). I only go to spots i know i can easily reach (knowing the area helps a lot of course). Most of the time getting there is not that difficult, but getting rid of your is. Especially on these narrow roads. It'll be also very difficult to leave. So make sure when you arrive, you park your car in the direction of the next place you need to go to. You don't want to make a U-turn at that moment.

If i look at the roadmap of the RVV, i would look for a spot just outside Bruges not that far from the E40 highway. A traffic jam there is possible with thousands of people wanting to leave Bruges after the departure of the peloton. My next stop would be Deinze (km47) which is pretty easily reachable from the E40. 47km means you'll have 1h to get there. Deinze is close to but still outside the region of the hills. So you won't loose time on narrow, jammed, agricultural roads.

After Deinze, the peloton makes big turn West (passing through Gent) which gives you plenty of time to get to the cobblestones of Kerkgate/Mater (85km later = 2 hours). There are some restaurants on that section and i expect them to put an improvised bar outside.

My last stop would be Geraardsbergen (km 245). The Muur itself will be overcrowded. My suggestion is "De Vesten": the first part of the climb (where VDB fell in 99, took out the complete leading group and only Museew & Van Petegem escaped); right after the city's market place. They usually put a big screen there and a beer tent. You'll also find plenty of bars. On the (Kapel)Muur itself, you might be a bit isolated. There is only this restaurant "Het Hemelrijck" at the top and i highly doubt you'll still be able to get in to get some drinks and watch TV.
 
Mar 17, 2009
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We got warned that drink-driving is a big no-no, especially for foreigners.

To be honest, next time we go I don't think we'll try multiple locations. I think you can get caught up too much in rushing from one place to the other and miss the atmosphere. In Flanders we got to the Paterberg early enough to end up chatting with Mario de Clerq's cousin. Then we managed to lose our car keys and by the time we found them missed most of the race so we ended up in a bar in Oudenaarde.

A week later at Roubaix, we managed to get to several locations, but not able to see the race very well and then didn't manage to get to a bar in time to watch the finish. I preferred the atmosphere to seeing the race loads
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Mar 18, 2009
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Roubaix Sector 4

If anyone else needs a great spot to see some flats, crashes, and all out twisty mayhem, join me on Sector 4. There's beer and frites to satisfy even the most demanding.

This is absolutely thr greatest time of the year. I was perched on the Muur and had great seats right on the wall..without the barrier keeping the fans at bay.

The Kemmelberg was a blast as well, even if it was cold and wet.

Hope the trip is going well, perhpas I'll see you at 4.
 

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