Dear Belgium. In the build up to Roubaix weekend I stayed in Kasseienfiets Huis, in Meulebeke. In those few days, I felt like I was once again meeting you for the first time. I saw the excitement of riding your roads through the eyes of the new arrivals from lands afar. I was reminded of my Belgian dream, and boy did it bring me great joy. A dream that had been, somewhat, obscured over the long period of absence from being a relatively integrated member of your society. 

It has been a long time since I had ridden on the concrete sliced roads of Flanders. As I’m riding along, I am constantly reminded of the immediate beauty and culture that you have to offer, in each one of your regions. I am taken aback as to how integral the sport of cycling is to you, not just to the general public’s functioning but to them being avid fans of the koerse itself. 

N.B. I admit there may be large generalisations. My opinions may be through rose tinted glasses, but they are the way I perceive and admire the places I’m fortunate enough to have visited and experienced. I want to share them in a positive light and as close to my initial perception as possible.


I’ll start off with something that might seem quite trivial, but they are just too stunning to overlook, your houses. The like in Britain are often reserved for the richest and tucked away in back streets and covered by a frontier of trees. The typical British house is governed by the stringent copy & paste regulations of planning permissions, and are all similar in the area they are located. 

In Britain, it is monotonous to ride through their streets, alongside houses that are all identical on the outer surface. They often complement the greyness of the standard British day that is experienced throughout the year. In contrast, the houses built on your land are often stand alone pieces of art; they are unique with no predefined design. Their striking designs regularly stop me in my tracks. Each one of them make up some of the most appealingly designed houses I’ve ever seen. 

“Don’t judge a book by its cover Tom,” I hear you say. I’ve stayed in a number of buildings across your land, in the last seven or eight years. I must add that the interior designs found within a number of the buildings have more often than not lived up to, or surpasses, the exterior of the house or home. 

I’m frequently met with a modern design, featuring bright open plan layouts that interior design masters would be dazzled by. As each weekend passes in a new house with its own unique layout, I build a repertoire of designs that I may want to be featured in my future house. Wherever and whenever that may be. 


The Flemish Ardennes is the location I see myself living in my Belgian dream. And I’ve seen plenty of the appealing houses outlined above, so that’s that box checked. In addition, I am already well acquainted with the towns and cities in the Flemish region of Belgium. Just taking a brief look at my Strava heat map will show you how many races I’ve participated in your country over the years. Countless irregularly shaped circuits imprinted all over the roads of Northern Belgium. 

The people that line the streets drinking their glass of Jupiler beer cheering on the local kermesse koerse. We often whizz by so close you could nab their drink. It’s this feeling of support that makes a race what it is. 

All over cycling Twitter, you heard riders commend the Belgian fans for providing an experience unlike any other. For the riders (and people watching on), cycling appears to be a stadium sport because many Belgians have ridden – nay raced – the very roads the professional riders are competing on. It creates a connection to the race that is unfolding in front of our eyes. I put this down to the ability to ride the course with the barriers lining the streets. Allowing the brain to dream. 

Local Knowledge

Which sport allows the fans to ride on the same arena as the one their idols do battle on? In accordance with this marketing ploy of the monuments, I honestly get a huge rush of excitement riding and training on the roads of the greatest races in the world. The Tour of Flanders for example is a special one because the Vlaamse Ardennen hold a striking resemblance to my training roads, the Surrey Hills. 

A home advantage is well known throughout sport. You just have to look at the biggest sporting fixtures in the world to understand that if a team plays at home in a familiar and supportive environment they will perform to the best of their ability. This is precisely the reason why whenever I’m riding around Oudenaarde I get a small thrill knowing these could be some of the roads I may race on in the future. 

I think about how the Surrey Hills have become the bread and butter of my long training rides. I regularly head into them for my lumpy rides in order to ensure the elevation is ticked off. It gives me goosebumps imagining having those hellingen climbs on your doorstep. Imagine being able to learn about the intricate details of roads that so many professional riders have raved about and the importance of knowing them for all the professional and under-twenty-three Flanders’ Classics.

The REAL Ardennes

A large proportion of your country is ‘flat.’ There is a reason you see the majority of Belgian riders migrate to Costa Blanca in an effort to build tolerance to mountainous terrain. It’s extremely difficult to get above ten metres of elevation per kilometre of tarmac. “The wind is the mountain” they say. It is less difficult when you go further south, into regions like the Flemish Ardennes or the Flemish Brabant region on the border with Wallonia. 

In order to combat this drawback, you’ll often see riders pack up a car and set up shop for a lengthy retreat to the real Ardennes. The region plays host to la doyenne. You notice a theme here. Every road available to be ridden has likely seen a professional race lay its rubber tyres on its surface. The thought hypnotises your mind during the most torturous of interval sessions, making them all the more bearable. 

Very few races are flat nowadays. Therefore the Ardennes are the perfect getaway to some longer hills and intervals to accumulate the metres on the elevation clock on Strava. Often finding climbs that are longer than ten minutes in length means it is easy to accrue over two thousand metres in a single ride. Challenging you to maintain the speeds on the descents and produce stable power outputs on the climbs. 

To make the Ardennes all the more appealing, the roads there are, more often than not, of astounding quality. Rolling along. Oh, so smoothly. Getting aero and hearing the whoosh of, not only the waterfalls in the surrounding wilderness, but the wheels cutting through the wind on the slightly negative gradient before the next interval begins. All the motivation in the world right there, surely? 

Training partners

Even more motivation was found when, staying in Seneffe, I rode to Oudenaarde and back. The ride featured the picturesque Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg. Two climbs I really like to take on. Riding in and then out of Geraardsbergen I saw many riders on a mixture of Top Competitie Club and Continental teams. Even professional riders popped up riding in the opposite direction to further inspire me. 

The ride per week where you are joined by more than two other riders, allows for a different dynamic of training sessions. They help you tick off greater miles for a larger zone two base. The mind also remains fresh due to the lengthy, and sometimes deeper, conversations that are possible when you spend hours with people you invest time with. It adds an extra depth to the meaning of training, because it ticks the box labelled ‘life balance.’


I’ve been to Belgium only a handful of times in 2023. Yet every time I’ve turned a pedal stroke or taken a breath of the air, I feel calm and fresh. Happy. I ride with a smile on my face. I ride the bike paths flying in the tailwind alongside the endless canals during long training intervals. Long may it continue to bring a never ending smile to my face. This is My Belgian Dream: to live, breathe and ride in Belgium ad infinitum.

What’s my target with this article? Well I want to share the ‘why’ of wanting to live in Belgium. And my dreams, realistic or not, of remaining in Europe, at least, for the rest of my cycling career. I hope it sparks conversation, and finding someone who may be able to help my situation. Aside from the Immigration lawyers we’ve already tried out.

One thought on “My Belgian Dream

  1. It’s great to continue to read your articles Tom despite recent events, best wishes for a continued speedy recovery

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