Wow. I thought Day 1 was awesome but Day 2 outdid it. The day started with a great breakfast at the hotel followed by an amazing ride. We left Kortrijk and rode along a canal. The pace was comfortable, letting us all get our riding legs sorted out. Little did I know that the Koppenberg was waiting for us 40km down the road!
As we rolled along another amazing bike path, in the distance I could see this hill slowly rising. The closer I got the more my anticipation grew. Was this one of the famous climbs of Belgium.?Was I about to make my first assault on a cobbled climb? Was I ready for what was to come? The answer to all of these questions was yes. An emphatic yes. The climb was hard. Really hard. the cobbles are a terrible road surface for skinny bike tires. And the idea of climbing any hill that exceeds 21% is silly. But that was what were there for, and that is what I did. Twice. Plus a couple more climbs of the upper half for good measure. It was EPIC.
After the climb we set a course for Zedelgem – the start town for the second stage of 3 days of De Panne. Once in town we connected with the Cannondale Team. Fabrice collected our bikes and restocked us with water, snacks, etc. We greeted the riders as the exited the bus and headed for the start line. The crowd surrounding the bus was impressive, and you could feel the excitement grow as Fabrice rolled Peter Sagan’s bike out. I seriously thought that someone would faint from the excitement! DuVine has really created a special experience with this trip.
After the race departed we boarded the bus for a coffee and snack. We chatted with the team staff for a bit and readied ourselves for the return ride. By this point I was quite hungry but knew that lunch was just 30km down the road. What I didn’t know is that that 30km would be another awesome riding experience. Amazing roads, an exhilarating route, beautiful scenery, just perfect. Our guide, Arien, is terrific and has really done a great job of plotting our routes.
At lunch I tried a traditional Belgian meal – a potato, chicken, and miscellaneous veggie “soup” that I ate with a fork. It was filling. So much so that I decided to call it a day for riding. It was the right decision. We took the van back to the hotel, had our massages, and got ready for the beer tasting event that evening.
The beer tasting was a couple of different local brews along with cheese, meat, nuts and frites. It was heaven. I thought that this was going to be our dinner. It wasn’t. But I stocked up anyway!
Dinner was at an amazing local restaurant called Tastes and Colours. Basically we had dinner in a private home with the chef cooking for us while we watched. It was delicious! Great food and great conversation at the end of a great day. What more can I say?