Welcome to Flanders

I first met Jamie Anderson, the cofounder of the Flandrien Hotel via LinkedIn back in 2017 when I lived in Paris. We are of the same vintage, born in the early 1970s, grew up with a passion for cycling, and we each focused on our respective business careers until we both got back into cycling more seriously in our late 40s. Jamie has won several European masters titles while I’m just an active cyclist who’s best claim to fame is a third place finish in a winter fat bike race.

We had an immediate bond with shared passions for business and cycling. A few years ago Jamie left his day to day business work to launch The Flandrien Hotel along with Bernard Moerman, who is a leadership coach and a long time professional cycling team executive. Since the inception of the hotel Jamie has been encouraging me to visit. I finally saw a break in my calendar and clandestinely planned my trip only sharing the details with a few close friends. I wanted this trip to be a unique experience where I could focus on riding, eating, and sleeping, hence, I didn’t want to complicate it with too many logistics of visits or European explorations by car. I’ll get enough of that on the bike this week.

So here I am in Flanders, the heart of Belgian’s classic races such as the Tour of Flanders (Ronde Van Vlaanderen) and the Baloise Belgium Tour.

I arrived jet lagged and without luggage (which I am still waiting to be delivered) but I had planned ahead by arranging a bike with Jamie and packing my cycling kit in my carry-on so that even a lost bag wouldn’t stop me from riding.

Once getting through customs and submitting a case with the Air Canada baggage claim staff I was greeted to a smiling Jamie at the coffee shop who then led me to the most unique airport car service I’ll ever experience. When Jamie first bought the hotel he found an old Peugeot service car from 1979. He had the car repainted in the Flandrien colours. It was such a welcoming and fun drive back to the hotel.

Peugeot 1979

Jamie lined up an incredible Giant bike for me equipped with Shimano Ultegra, carbon wheels, and sweet Challenge Strada Bianca tires that are smooth, supple, and comfortable for riding the mixed surfaces in Flanders including cobbles.

Giant Bike – mine for 10 days!

This morning Jamie and I rode to Oudenaarde and back via a lovely undulating loop sprouted with Strava challenge climbs. Good inspiration for rides later in the week. The route was only 60 kilometres and had nearly 650 metres of climbing. Flanders is famous for their Murs (tough, short, steep climbs). There are 59 segments according to the Flandrien Challenge.

Oudenaarde Town Centre

Along the way back we passed a gorgeous historic windmill along one of the many narrow farm roads.

Me riding by the windmill. Photo courtesy of Jamie Anderson.

While riding in Flanders you will often see bike routes posted on signs and you can follow each route’s colours for all sorts of different adventures.

Cycling route markers found all over Flanders.

Jamie parks the Peugeot strategically in the lane to inspire dreams of cycling over the cobbles of Flanders.

One thought on “Welcome to Flanders

  1. Pingback: A Think Week on a Bicycle in Flanders | Gene Villeneuve

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