Fancy some Ronde Van Vlaanderen (RVV) type action, but with a retro twist? You're in luck because the weekend of 25-26 May sees the seventh edition of the RetroRonde Van Vlaandaren, which is like the regular RVV but with a very substantial classic angle.
Before we talk any more about the RetroRonde, it's probably appropriate to have a bit of history. As anyone with a knowledge of cycle racing history will tell you, the first Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) was held in 1913, it was conceived by Karel Van Wijnendaele of sports paper Sportwereld. Since then it has gone on to become one of the most iconic cycle races in the world. Along with its sister event the following weekend, Paris-Roubaix, it’s undoubtedly a highlight of the pro cycling season.
The RetroRonde van Vlaanderen, which began seven years ago in homage to the actual Ronde, encourages competitors to indulge their nostalgic fantasies by dragging out their period bikes and clothing (much in the fashion of the popular L'Eroica event in Tuscany). This year the RetroRonde weekend coincides with the date on which the very first edition of the RVV was staged back in 1913 - 25 May - although the actual riding bit of the RetroRonde takes place on the 26th.
If the idea of a retro-Belgian adventure tickles your fancy, (and why wouldn't it?) there's a choice of three distances: 30, 70 or 100km. The rides include most of the sections of pavé that are so well known to any Belgian cycling fans. We’re talking about the Oude Kwaremont, Koppenberg, Muur-Kapelmuur, Tenbosse, Bosberg, to name a few. It’s stricly not a race, it’s a celebration of the race and is run as a leisurely event. You’re encouraged to take your time, enjoy the carnival type atmosphere and make the most of the well stocked food stops.
Don’t bother turning up on your fancy dan carbon race bike, you’ll just be turned away. The rules stipulate that all bikes should date from before 1987, and should be in the vintage style of a steel framed bike with down tube shifters. Furthermore, brake cables should be external and not wrapped under the bar tape, and traditional pedals with hooks and straps must be used.
Clothing should be made from wool, saddles from leather, tyres glued to rims and isotonic drinks replaced with beer. You can leave your Oakley eyewear at home too; no modern sunglasses or other modern accessories are allowed, so you can really live out your fantasy of riding like Freddy Maertens...
All this jollyness costs €10 for pre-registered riders and €12 for on-the-day sign-ups. It’s really easy to get to Oudenarde where the even starts, it’s just a short drive from Calais. So make a weekend of it. There’s a bicycle swap meet the Saturday before the event and there’s a prize for the most authentic riders. There's even a criterium race in Oudenaarde city centre as well as a swinging Retro Dansant which, in suitably retro terminology, would best be described as groovy. In proper old school fashion, both of these are also the day before the main event.
Enter now at www.retroronde.be
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.