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Trip tidbits

In an effort to bring you along on my upcoming cycling vacation to Belgium, I will provide the occasional trip tidbits as I prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.


— RIDING IN STYLE

I just emailed my clothing sizes to Trek Travel. As part of the Pro Race Spring Classics package, each participant is given, to keep, a Trek Travel cycling jersey and socks, along with a Lidl-Trek pro team kit. The latter item includes both bib shorts and a jersey.


— RIDER RANKINGS

Trek Travel assigns a rider level for each trip, so those taking part can match their bicycling expertise to what will happen during the actual on-site outings. This way participants can feel safe and comfortable, knowing what to expect ahead of their arrival. There are four classifications: leisure, recreational, active, and avid. The Tour of Flanders trip has been given an "active" rating. Trek Travel's description for this is as follows: "Fitness is central to my life. I ride my bike regularly on a weekly basis and am comfortable with rides of three-to-four hours or more at a relatively strong pace." When the trip consultant called me to inquire about rider level, I put myself at "avid." It carries this wording: "I ride my bike an average of 100 miles per week and enjoy a fast pace for an extended period of time. I love to train, improve, and maybe even race my friends."


— PURCHASE PERK

It's not like I need another bicycle — having eight already in my basement. But another perk is that Trek Travel issues to each guest a coupon valued up to $500 toward the purchase of a Trek bike. It is sound reasoning. For many, the two-wheeled machine they will be using during our five-day tour is better than the one they ride at home. So, the temptation might exist to upgrade once they return from their trip.


— STAR OF THE SHOW

Speaking of bicycles. As I stated previously, Trek Travel furnishes a high-end road bike for each participant's use. I will be sitting atop a Trek Domane SL 7. Actually, this will be a good fit for me, as the bicycle's geometry measurements should be pretty similar — if not exactly the same — to those of my 2023 Trek Domane SL 5. The trip version will be lighter than mine, mostly because it features carbon wheels. The other difference is that it has electronic shifting, while my beast has mechanical shifting.


— HOME AWAY FROM HOME

I get the impression Trek Travel prides itself on offering its guests top-shelf accommodations. Our temporary place of residence will be the Hotel Harmony, a historic boutique establishment in the heart of Ghent’s old center. According to Trek Travel, the structures date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The luxury family-run hotel is located in the Patershol district of Ghent, on a cobblestone street overlooking the Leie Canal. Because of my early arrival, I've made arrangements to stay at the same hotel and its staff has been extremely helpful and prompt.


It goes without saying that my excitement is building for the opportunity to cycle through the Belgium countryside and to witness live one of the toughest bike races in the world, the Tour of Flanders. I'll be hopping on a plane to Brussels in less than two months. Stay safe ... especially if you're riding your bicycle!


The cobbles of Hallowell. Quite a few more await my arrival in Belgium.

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