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Ratae quartet conquer the Flandrien Challenge

They say that a true Flandrien is a man or woman of steel who relishes a challenge and eats pain for breakfast. Well four heroic members of the club, Chris Whitney, Brian Bonser, Karl Williams and Richard Chapman took on the Flandrien Challenge, ate the pain and finished with a well-earned Belgian beer or two and their names on the Wall of Fame at the Centre Ronde van Vlaanderen in Oudenaarde.

Of this epic Brian Bonser writes: "When Chris suggested a trip to Belgium cycling along some classic cobbled sections we had no real idea of what to expect. Some YouTube searches later, we were starting to get a better idea!

"The Flandrien Challenge combines 59 mainly cobbled Strava segments which need to be ridden within a 72 hour period. A mere 270 miles (435km) with approximately 18000 feet (5500m) of climbing with the likes of De Muur, Koppenberg, Kemmelberg and Kwaremont to mention just a few.

"I think it fair to say that we all underestimated the severity and draining nature that the cobbled sections gave to the ride but, about 70 hours after we started, we were awarded our personalised cobble to put in the Wall of Fame in the Oudenaarde museum, adding to the approximately 700 other finely tuned athletes who have also completed the challenge.

"An amazing few days of cycling, followed by a very sobering ride around the WW1 battlefield cemeteries which are an absolute must for anyone in the area. An extremely moving and humbling experience.

"For anyone looking for an easily accessible continental cycling trip, on some of the quietest roads with the most courteous of drivers, I can highly recommend the Flanders region of Belgium. The cobbles on the other hand - can stay in Belgium".


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