24 January 2012

Word of the Day: Wielertoeristen

I just learned a new word, and I like it: Wielertoeristen means Cycle Tourists in Dutch
This is the word used to label the amateur cyclists that take part in the annual Tour of Flanders for Cyclotourists. 31 March, 2012 Registration, Routes /parcours, (although I'm not sure how much they are enjoying their touristy scenery during the event).
  • Cyclists (English)
  • Wielertoeristen (Dutch)
  • les cyclotouristes (French)
  • die Radwanderer (German)
Last year 19,870 wielertoeristen participated in the Tour of Flanders cyclosportif event which begins in Bruges (at 7:00am) and ends in Oudenaarde (by 8:00pm). Tradition dictates the event occurs the day before the real Tour of Flanders race (Ronde van Vlaanderen). The event allows amateurs to experience what the pros go through (in much less time, but the same pain). 

One quarter of the participants in 2011 were from abroad, representing 30 nationalities. The majority of participants selected the 75 or 140 km routes, only four thousand real Flandriens tackled the entire 260 km. The 140km is thought to be the choice event offering the traditional climbs including the Molenberg, Valkenberg, Koppenberg, Steenbeekdries, Taaienberg, Eikenberg, Kapelleberg, Foreest, Berg Ten Houte, Kruisberg, Knokteberg Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg.
Regular Joes acting like the pros. Photo from http://www.boxxcyclingteam.be
Sadly the Muur de Grammont (seen above) will not be included in the 2012 Tour of Flanders (there will also be no Bosberg). But the riders will be doing three loops on the Oude de Kwaremont and the Paterberg before finishing in Ourdenaarde
Wielertoeristen, Photo from http://www.boxxcyclingteam.be
I am going to go watch these brave Wielertoeristen on March 31st, maybe on the Koppenberg or the Paterberg. I'm not planning to ride the event myself, so a friend told me to at least go watch the wielertoeristen to appreciate their struggle and achievement, and compare their pace to the above-human performances of the professional cyclists tackling the real Tour of Flanders the following day.  
I am so excited to be heading to Belgium to see the Spring Classics in April. I have dreamed about being a fan at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix for years. This year I am finally going. If I can work out all the hows and wheres of it all. It seems that unless one pops over for the Cyclosportif (mentioned above), or joins an official bike tour company, there is not a lot of how to guidance to be found for the tourist cycling fan.
I have been pouring over guide books, maps, and now finally online blogs and reports. So far the planning is challenging and time consuming and I fully support anyone who simply joins a tour company. My trip to France for the Tour de France in July was arranged months ago, that planning was a breeze in comparison. Belgium is a whole new beast, I know nothing, the last two times I traveled through Belgium seems like a life time ago. Certainly before I fully understood the domination of Eddy Merckx, had only vaguely heard the name Roger de Vlaeminck, and Tom Boonen probably was in grade school.

Although it appears things haven't changed that much ...
Recommended reading of the Day by Cycling Tips: Why The Tour Down Under Is Important To Flanders?

Spring Classics Bike Tour Companies
Are you interested in one of those Tour Companies I mentioned that will save you hours of time and show you the best of the best? Some of these tours may already be sold out, so don't wait.
  • Thomson Bike Tours 3-day trip to the Paris Roubaix with riding some key climbs (my #1 pick, and an official A.S.O. tour operator)
  • The ChainStay offers 1-day tours to both the Tour of Flanders and the Paris-Roubaix
  • VeloClassic offers a Spring Classics I - do it all 12 day tour including the Tour of Flanders Cyclosportif, Tour of Flanders, Scheldeprijs, and Paris-Roubaix. 
  • The one and only hugely popular Cycling Tips blog is sponsoring a Spring Classics Tour for the first time to the big 3 races plus lots of riding. 
Related Pedal Dancer posts: You too can race the cobbles 

I wish I knew who is credited with this quote, but it sure is a good one:  
"If you want to see a sporting event, go to the Tour de France. If you want to see a bike race, go to the Tour of Flanders"