We’ve both just been racing the local kermesses, of which there are lots. Each one has it’s own unique flavour, with each course being slightly different, be it a new cobbled hill, a tight chicane through a town centre or simply lots of traffic furniture. Every day you can just choose which 70mile road race you fancy within a half hours travel, you normally have a choice of two or three. Despite this number of races, every race has a full field of riders and spectators.
Racing on cobbles is different that’s for sure, although probably the worst part is the transition back to tarmac after the cobbles. Everyone accelerates off them and with rattled legs it can be hard, but its manageable. Certainly easier for the big lads, of which there are lots.
It’s not hard to see why they’re big though, it’s not just the riding round here, with its turbo trainer-like flatness. It’s also the food, which is quite something. Speculoos, mussels, pancakes, chocolate, croissants, pastries… it takes a fair amount of self-control not to decide to put on a few stone and just binge.
However there is one small, annoying and high-pitched literal fly in the ointment of this food and cycling heaven. Mosquitos. Lots of them. Every night involves a fun routine of trying to kill three or four on the walls before going to sleep. Despite this you still wake up with bites all down your legs. On the whole though the blood loss is a small price to pay for what is a great trip to a great place. We’ve got one more week and plenty more races here, then back to the UK for some hill climbs which will be quite a shock after how flat this place is.