I’ve never entered a cycling sportive in my life… but I’m a sucker for a good poster and these posters from the people who organise the Eroica events have featured several times in the past on CyclingEurope.org. They’ve just sent through the complete set for 2021 – yes, it appears that they are starting again… – and the first of their cycles is actually today in South Africa.
The Paris-Roubaix cycle race has been postponed until later in the year. No surprise there bearing in mind the new lockdown just announced in France. Cobbles are an (almost) every day part of cycling here in the Calder Valley of Yorkshire. My bones have been shaken on a regular basis in recent years since my return to God’s Own County. Perhaps they should have just moved it to the north of England rather than waiting until the autumn of 2021… I wrote about the Paris-Roubaix in Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie.
The countries of continental Europe and the European Union itself have been much criticised in the (right-wing) British media in recent weeks on matters relating to the distribution of the COVID vaccines. In those criticisms there is, of course, a non-too-subtle dollop of British smugness. To at least 48% of the British population (of which I am part), these are sentiments that make us squirm. They are predictable and fail to take into account the ‘bigger picture’ of a continent which, in terms of the quality of people’s lives, is light years ahead of most parts of backward, squalid Britain.
In the summer of 2015 as I cycled from Tarifa to Nordkapp (and as subsequently recounted in the book Spain to Norway on a Bike Called Reggie) there is one evening that stands out as being almost perfect. It was the day I cycled through the fruit orchards of Limburg in Belgium. The sun was out, the terrain not too challenging and the countryside around me a delight. Such was my mood that I treated myself to a rather nice B&B that evening in the town of Borgloon.
Originally scheduled to take place in April, Belgium’s premier cobbled classic has been nudged back slightly to accommodate a new cycling calendar. Now, on 18 October, the men shall race 241 km, and the women will compete over 135 km. The final circuits including Oudenaarde, Paterberg, and Oude Kwaremont still making up the shortened Tour of Flanders.
Spring 2020 will forever go down in the annals of history as the time of the Coronavirus. We don’t yet know how the story will end – this is history in the making – but we do know that the pandemic has had a significant impact upon the lives of most people. Schools closed, festivals cancelled, sporting events postponed, film premieres rescheduled… Yet with the majority of the population at home, what better time to pick up a book and start reading. And what better time to head off on a vicarious cycle across Europe. But fear not! This is not some shameless plug for my own books. (Although they are rather good…) It is about a new book that is being published on April 9th called A Time For Birds by Helen Moat.