Day 4: Diksmuide – Kortrijk

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‘And watch out for the Veurnse Bull, eh!’ Hostess Monica of the Esenkasteelhoeve cannot suppress a laugh when her comment causes puzzled looks. A bull? And do we have to pass it on the way? Fortunately, it’s not too bad. The Veurnse Bull is the nickname for the wind in the Westhoek. It can howl and roar, if you’re unlucky.. But bad luck is something we lack on this trip.

The Bull keeps its cool and in practically windless weather we set off for the Heuvelland. A region that does not announce itself with much fanfare. Very quietly the climbs begin to appear in the landscape. The flat becomes increasingly false, making you wonder if you are hallucinating because straightforward cycling seems a lot more difficult than on previous days. Until the relief can no longer be denied and the hills gently follow each other.

War history remains visible all the way to Ypres and far beyond. We pass the Menin Gate, regretting that the place is just off our route in terms of timing. Had we ended up here last night, we could have watched The Last Post at eight o’clock in the evening. A daily tribute to all those who died. Always impressive, whether you are experiencing it for the first time or have seen it before.


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Diksmuide - Kortrijk3
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But not today. We must move on and exchange war history for racing history. One last loop through the Heuvelland, around the Kemmelberg which, thank heavens, we do not have to climb with our baggage. At Wervik, we cross the border into a small piece of France. Along the Lys, which is called La Lys here, and then to return to Flanders at Menen. We skirt Wevelgem and Roubaix is not far away. This is country that I see on TV every spring, where the helicopter above the professional peloton displays the most beautiful pictures.

After more than a hundred and thirty kilometres, the legs have had it for today. Our final destination, Kortrijk, has been reached. We order a Flandrien from Super8 on the Grote Markt and wander through the Beguinage in the evening before our legs finally get some rest. That is necessary. Because, tomorrow, many more of the classics await.