Those of you who have stuck with my blog for the 5 years or so that I have written it will know that I am big on the Classics. I am bonkers about them!
April is an emotive month for me with the rain sodden WW1 battle fields used for a more positive purpose than combat. The spring classic season may be short on days but is heavy on racing.
Ashamed, I had managed 40 years on the planet without seeing proper pave. I had only ever used Belgium for transit, mainly to the Netherlands. This trip may have been more about testing the delicious beers on offer, but it was also key for me as an anorak of this particular facet of bike racing.
We journeyed north to Hull from Peterborough, an odd direction to get to Flanders! But there was method in our madness. We let P&O mini cruises take the strain, relaxing on board despite the quality of keyboard work in the late night piano bar.
Once off the boat in Zebrugge, it was a matter of minutes on a bus until we were in Bruges and walking towards the square.
Having only seen it on television, I was expecting that phenomenon known as the "Wembley" moment... "It looks much bigger on screen, than in real life”.
This wasn't the case though and the sunny side up eggs with bacon mixed into the whites, served along with juice and croissants set me up for the day.
We had a wander round whilst I took photos of cobblestones. Anorak isn't an understatement! My chum, a top bike racer from Amsterdam arrived via train and we got down to some serious gossiping and planning for the sportive in April. The Flandrian sky produced the sort of drizzle the pros must be used to seeing. I wasn’t disappointed though. Flanders and sun just aren’t bedfellow, any other weather system on my debut in the area just wouldn't have felt right.
It felt amazing to be at the exact start of the Ronde and chatting to bar men about the legendary Tom Boonen. Even on a November Sunday afternoon, the atmosphere was still thick with the history of a region and the unspoilt nature of the square.
As I sank my frites and mayonnaise on the way back to ship, I was already dreaming of coming back... the build up continues to the Ronde Cyclo...