Yellow loop (103 km)

Complete flandrien together

I suggested to my colleague Tom from the Center Tour of Flanders to schedule a video call. His answer included “Otherwise yellow loop during day off?”. Of course I said wholeheartedly 'yes' to that. I was surprised by the offer, because 'stoempen' on the cobblestones is mainly written for me. Tom, in turn, climbs up more easily with his slim build. He recently also bought a Specialized gravel bike. In terms of complementarity, that was therefore good. As a team, we are perhaps the equivalent of the qualities that a full-fledged Flandrien must have. We don't come close in magnitude. Forgive us, we just like to associate ourselves with such a heroic figure. Especially as a citizen of a cycling crazy region such as Flanders. It was clear: the social distance was definitely going to be preserved given my hunger for cobbles and Tom's frolicking uphill. I had already received one piece of advice and shared it with Tom. Enough dosing to handle the finale with Kerkgate and the Wolvenberg as a climax.

yellow loop

Thunderstorm with not a single cobblestone on the counter

As two motivated, recreational cyclists we departed from our workplace: the Center Tour of Flanders. Where the three Round loops (blue, red and yellow) start and end. The yellow loop is mainly known as the route for cobblestones. Nevertheless, the 916 meters of altitude already gave us a light thunder before we had even docked over one cobblestone. On autopilot I cut the roundabout with the blue loop in mind. The yellow loop is therefore different from the other two from the start. In the beginning (!) Tom was even more attentive. The Petegemberg (530 meters, average 7.6%, max. 11%) in Wortegem-Petegem was a precursor to the above mentioned altimeters. The view is impressive. With the race cap on, the bench that is there is not yet applicable as a resting place. Arrives way too early in the route. With the hat of romantic soul it is on another occasion a serious contender to go for a picnic with my girlfriend. All this aside.

Petegemberg

Koers evokes stories

Then it went to the Nokereberg (350 m, avg. 6%, max. 7%) where a young man with a racing cap was reading. He watched Tom and I both climb the cobblestones at our own pace. I did return to ask what the Nokereberg meant to him. He started talking about Mathieu Van der Poel's blood that was there last year (2019) during his fall in the final sprint during Nokere Koerse. Yes, that bad trap everyone thought would end spring before it even got underway. He was immediately taken to hospital in Oudenaarde. Miraculously, the next day he sat barely 200 meters away with us in the Paterbergzaal for a press conference. Here too I deviate a bit, literally and figuratively, but it is too tempting to stick to the prescribed yellow route. The race simply evokes many stories.

Nokereberg

Race cap off

Then came the Huisepontweg (1450 m), Thorn (1620 m) and Den Ast (350 m, avg. 5.5%, max. 11%). Those cobblestone sections are a good preparation for what was yet to come. The Paddestraat (2400 m) is one of those mythical cobblestone sections that you can look forward to until you have to cross it yourself. Afterwards you take off your race cap for the professional cyclists who race over the cobblestones like an express train. A tip: we took a welcome break after the Paddestraat, because 300 meters later is the Lippenhovestraat (1300 m). Then the road goes towards Zottegem. Be aware of the danger point between Buke and the N462. Beyond that point, the yellow loop is very safe.

Paddestraat

Molenberg or Caildenberg: it's up to you

After this well-filled cobblestone menu there was a short intermezzo to let the eaten cobblestones lower for a while. The asphalt slopes Flame (700 m downhill, avg. 5%, max. 10%) and Hostellerie (1200 m downhill, avg. 3%, max. 10%) going downhill were the perfect opportunity to boost that average on Strava. Although there is still the Kortendries (2200m, avg 3%, max 10%). These challenges soon faded when I started talking about the famous one Molenberg (460 m, avg. 7%, max. 14%). I warned Tom about the poor state of the cobblestones and the fact that there is a slope (Caildenberg: 800 m, avg. 4%, max. 7%) which also led to the end of the Molenberg. Conclusion: our paths parted for a moment and he took his money before I realized it.

Throw ourselves to the wolves

Then there was cobbles again. Hunting mill (730 m) was a warm-up for the cobblestone mastodont Kerkgate. Kerkgate (2500 m) starts with very clean cobblestones that give the cycling citizen courage. Already after 500 meters that courage is diminished because the condition of the cobblestones deteriorates visibly. A physical, but also a mental issue. The strip seems endless when you do it for the first time. Then followed the Volkegemberg (1000 m, avg. 5%, max. 12%) downhill. After the cobbled final there was now also the last asphalt slope uphill. The steepest passage of the Wolvenberg (800 m, avg. 4%, max. 17%) hurt after all that climbing and docking. We knew in advance that we were going to throw ourselves and especially our legs to the wolves. I made it to the top, but Tom exploded and lost his leg muscles somewhere along the way. The honest finder receives a reward from us. Please return to Markt 43 in Oudenaarde.

Road surface in bad condition: to avoid or a matter of honor?

To get it off, there was a short cobble stone section in the Ruiterstraat (800 m), where a road sign “road surface in bad condition” made us laugh green. Motorists would avoid such a road surface at all costs, while cyclists make it a point of honor to brave those cobblestone sections. The Kattenberg (600 m, average 6%, max. 8%) downhill with the mosaic cobblestones are very comfortable. You would almost forget that there are also such cobblestones. Make sure during the descent that your alertness does not weaken, especially after so much effort.

After 5 hours of cycling, Tom and I passed the beautiful, Gothic town hall of Oudenaarde again. Bathed in the light of the evening sun. It is a scene that my colleague and I see again every working day. It has never been so beautiful.

The verdict

My unvarnished opinion about the yellow loop? The countless cobblestones linked to the altimeters ensure that this is not inferior to the red and blue loop. Ok, there are less roaring names such as the Muur, the Paterberg or the Koppenberg. The yellow loop will take you to places in the Flemish Ardennes where you would otherwise never come. For that reason alone you must have cycled this loop. You are of course for or against cobblestones. In my case, that famous brick in the stomach can be replaced by a cobblestone. This yellow loop is recommended for every cycling tourist who likes to eat cobblestones and loves beautiful nature.

Enjoy the ride and keep it safe!

Sander

Would you like to ride the yellow loop yourself? You can find more info on our page about different cycling routes in the Flemish Ardennes.