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As we all struggle with our new reality, there are certain ways to pass the time as we wait for the all-clear from the global health authorities. There is nothing like a pandemic to put bike racing into perspective, but this current crisis will not dampen our love for the spring classics, though it may delay any real racing possibly until next year. In the meantime, we can continue to fixate on those bergs and cobbles of Flanders and all things Belgium from home and look for ways to stay fit, and keep our wits that don’t just involve our trainers. To that end, here are a few suggestions to stay productive this waylaid classics season.
The Ronde Van Vlaanderen would be rolling out of Antwerp next weekend were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, and while we won’t get to watch this year’s Ronde or ride the sportive, or cheer and drink beers along the Oude Kwaremont (sigh), perhaps the best thing we can do is to build our own private Paterberg. The beauty and history of the Koppenberg and Kwaremont would not be possible were it not for their durability—they may have been paved over long ago otherwise. If these Belgian block-pavers can last hundreds of years in the rolling hills of Flanders, just think about the durability they’ll lend to your driveway.
Spend the next several weeks housebound by celebrating the Ronde in absentia and building the ultimate monument to the monuments: your own Belgian block driveway. Belgian block pavers are available from any number of home improvement sites and pricing begins at around $350 for a pallet of one hundred stones, enough to cover 66 linear feet.
Brew Like a Belgian Legend
While we may not be able to say that Belgians invented beer, they no doubt perfected it. Brewing in Belgium dates to the 12th century, and some of the country’s most famous beers were among those brewed in Trappist Abbeys as monks, seeking safety during the not-so-friendly-to-the-Catholic-Church French Revolution, fled to their neighbor to the north. In modern Belgium there are over 220 breweries and they make a range of beer styles that are all uniquely Belgian. From tripels and dubbels found in the abbeys to the wild sour styles of Rodenbach and Cantillon, Belgian beer offers something for everyone. Sadly, none of us are going to be flying across the pond to the legendary Belgian beer epicenter of Poperinge any time soon.
They say Issac Newton discovered his theory of gravity while working from home during the the Plague of London in the 1660s, from his country manor he would discover calculus and begin developing his theories of gravitational pull. We may not be the next Newton, but we can spend our days at home trying our hand at brewing like a Belgian, thanks to the Belgian-beer focused Brewferm home brewing kits. Take a stab at the Saison of Wallonia or those Abbey-style beers. Brewferm offers 11 different beer options. Homekits start at $99; brewferm.com
Classic Change of Pace
Social distancing equals time on the trainer—a lot of it—while we wait out this storm. For both your own mental health and physiological benefits, building variety into your workouts will help build strength and flexibility and give your mind a rest from all those grueling trainer rides. When we think of the classics, we think of Belgium and Italy. Away from the bergs, it’s the dusty white roads of Strade Bianche and the feverish finish to Milan-San Remo that we’re missing the most. Why not look to an Italian-American icon for a classic workout to complement your Zwift racing?
Rocky Balboa made jumping rope cool, and it’s as cool now as it ever has been, maybe even a bit more. The Crossrope workout may be the perfect complement to all that pedaling we do, offering weighted jump ropes and a complementary app that work at stretching, flexibility and core work in between rope skipping sets. The weighted ropes allow you to customize your approach. And even after our quarantine ends, Crossrope makes for a perfect workout when you’re off on business travel without a bike. $99; crossrope.com