Gravel Culture: The alternative Tour of Flanders
Gravel Union On
27 April 2020
If you were offered the chance to ride with a crazy fit former world tour pro-rider on a mid-winter “alternative” Tour of Flanders (pre-covid19 of course), would you take it?
What about if you knew that the weather forecast was poor, that the aforementioned pro rider was in super good form and would be riding ‘full gas’ whenever possible and that the Belgian cafes, bakeries and bars that you were due to visit during your ride wouldn’t really understand what your vegan diet entailed, or how they could help provide you enough calories to stop you from self-destructing?
These were the questions posed to Gravel Union’s very own Paul Errington back in early February (before Covid-19 restrictions were in place). As the un-contested king of gravel bikepacking, Paul was invited to join ex-pro Laurens ten Dam and Stefan Bolt, co-creator of the #liveslowridefast cycling podcast. Paul bought all his bikepacking skill and knowledge, but maybe hadn’t quite banked on LtD’s desire to ride flat out everywhere or the brutality of the weather and trail conditions in Belgium in February. Luckily, he survived his adventure and has promised to go back to ride in Flanders another time when it’s warm, the sun is shining and the gravel trails are dusty rather than swampy.
The three rides were in Belgium to test out the Alternative Tour of Flanders – roughly following the route of the Spring Classic, but using farm tracks, woodland singletrack and muddy field-edges to link up Belgium’s famous bergs and cobbled streets. Although their route choice and the weather conditions might have been slightly more adventurous than they were expecting, they not only lived to tell the tale, but came home with some beautiful images and a video capturing the highlights of the trip: