La Savoureuse is a new retro ride in Wallonia, the French speaking region of Belgium.
This is an attempt at a report on it. If you don't want to read my waffle, there's a link to the facebook site down the bottom with various photos from people who took part, and a short video.
I was meaning to wait until the official photos were available before posting on this ride, but the editing of the photos seems to be moving at typically Wallonian pace (the symbol of the capital city of Wallonia, Namur, is a snail. And a very appropriate symbol it is).
The relationship between Wallonia and Flanders has, as you may know, been a bit tense the past couple of years. I think part of this can be explained by the fact that the relationship between the two regions is similar to the relationship between the French and the British. Like the British in relation to the French, the Flemish like to ridicule the Wallonians for their economic and administrative ineptitude while secretly envying their beautiful countryside and general joi de vivre.
This cultural difference is (sort of) reflected in the difference between La Savoureuse and the Retro Ronde. Much as I love it, the Retro Ronde is an increasingly large and smoothly organised affair, and for me there is a lurking anxiety that it's only a matter of time before some prat starts to talk of it as a 'global brand' (some Flemish already see the official Ronde van Vlaanderen that way).
The first edition of La Savoureuse had something more of a familial atmosphere. For a johnny-come-lately like me, it gave at least a vague idea of what the early editions of L'Eroica might have been like - a small group of people enjoying a ride around a beautiful and not very well known area. Above all, there was a nice feeling that the whole thing wasn't being taken too seriously. That's not to say it was badly organised - the selection of food stops, local products, and the signposting of the route were all great. The poor bloke driving the 'wagon balais' seemed to be struggling a bit by the end, but he was still very friendly.
Above all, the route itself was fantastic. We did the 100km. There was only one flat section (along the RAVEL, a network of cycle routes along old railway lines). The rest dipped and climbed through the countryside. I'm a bit of a puff when it comes to descending, but my brother in law was off down some of the narrow country lanes like Nibali. Luxembourg province is the least populated part of Belgium, and it was surprising that it was possible to get the feeling of escaping the modern world even in a densely populated country like this. The only minor downside was that it would have been difficult to shorten the long route if it proved too much.
The other highlights were the Malteni beer (particularly the willingness of the barman at the feeding station to fill my bidon with the stuff), and my brother in law's off. We came to a river ford which he tried to cross at high speed. I thought it looked pretty spectacular, even more so when he skidded sideways and was dumped into the river.
He came out of it ok, and (less importantly, or maybe more so), so did his bike.
All in all, I'd really recommend doing this, or at least coming to Wallonia to do some retro) riding. There are the classic climbs from Liege Bastogne Liege and the Fleche Wallone to do, but there are also plenty of relatively undiscovered areas to explore. And that's before I start on the beer. https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Savou ... 19?fref=ts