Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix & Flanders Spring Classics with Kids?
As the traditional opening events of the European road racing season for the Pro's, the Spring Classics in the Flanders region of Belgium are a great opportunity to inspire the kids - so what about a week away for the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix & Flanders Spring Classics with Kids?
The series of Pro races run from early March and the end of April each year and are renowned for their tough, brutal conditions, vicious climbs and worthy winners. Quite a spectacle for your own Flandrien's to experience. Mostly run weekends, some run mid-week. They are followed by the Ardennes Classics in the French speaking east of Belgium.
The bigger races include;
- Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
- Nokere Koerse
- Driedaagse Bruges-De Panne
- E3 Harelbeke
- Gent Wevelgem
- Dwars door Vlaanderen
- Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders)
- Brabantse Pijl
There is a lot of appeal to a cycling holiday in Belgium with the kids. The terrain is generally flat, with short, punchy cobbled climbs dotted around the place to be either attacked or bypassed easily. As it's Europe, there is no shortage of excellent cycle paths, many segregated from the (more considerate) traffic too. Like visiting the TdF, as the area is full of cyclists to see the races, roads tend to be very busy with bikes, which is helpful when you are out with the kids.
As it's around Easter time, some years the weather can be borderline hot, others it can be hovering around freezing with wind and rain - so being prepared with the right kit like Winter tights, socks, gloves, jackets and warmers is essential.
Several of these pro race events have a Sportive run over the course (often the day before) for the public to experience the terrain and live the dream. The most famous of these is the 'We Ride Flanders' event using the Ronde course, taking in the legendary Muur van Geraardsbergen, Oude Kwaremont or Paterberg plus many more.
Accompanied children can enter these events (check each website for details) with a choice of distances (we do the shortest 70km+ but don't underestimate tough cobbles) and the Ronde Sportive also has a short 20km family sportive from it's base in Oudennade, although details are not on the website, it has been run the last couple of years. To watch the Sunday race itself, a visit to the Muur van Geraardsbergen to worship the gods is fantastic, but get there early!
Although not a Belgian Classic, the Paris-Roubaix (Hell of the North) usually runs the following weekend after the Ronde and is located an hour south of Oudennarde (in France) so it's an easy week away taking in both - and the mid-week Scheldeprijs too, if you are feeling energetic!
The carnival atmosphere on the Areneberg Trench during the Paris-Roubaix race is worth the trip - but stand back, you won't quite believe the speed the peloton will go down it, especially after your own poor-effort the day before ;-)
There is plenty to see and do in the area when the racing is over. No visit to Flanders is complete without a trip to Oudennarde and the 'RVV Centrum Cycling Museum' (with very cool cycling cafe attached, where you can bump into the odd Pro) to learn all about history of the most famous Belgium road race.
There is also the newly opened 'Koers Museum van de Wielersport' over at Roeselare. Stunning Brugge with it's beer and chocolate is another great place to visit nearby. Can't think why...
Don't forget to ride on the right ;-)