We’re leveling out a bit this week to introduce you to a century old cobblestone street located just outside of the city of Oudenaarde known as the Kerkgate.
The Kerkgate is located in the small village of Mater in the community of Oudenaarde. It’s name literally translates to Church Gate, which gets it’s name from the hamlet of Kerck Gaete that was located here from the late 1700’s.
Formerly a dirt road, the Kerkgate was modernized with cobblestones (more specifically quarried Belgian Blocks or setts) near the end of the 1800’s. Together the Kerkgate along with the Kerel Martelstraat now make up the 2.5 km cobbled section made famous by the Tour of Flanders. And sorry to break it to you, while this is a cobbled sector and not a berg there is still a gentle rise of 55 meters or a 3.5% gradient.
In racing, the Kerkgate is typically used early on in the race to ‘tenderize’ the peloton, and help separate the weak from the strong. Positioning on a sector such as this is everything!
For newbies, the best approach to riding cobblestone sectors is in a large gear with an 80-90 RPM. A loose grip will help you control your bike to work with the cobbles, while an iron tight grip will only cause a fight between your bike and the cobbles.
Ready to ride?
The Kerkgate is included along the 80 kilometer RVV Blue Loop, but you can easily make up your own loop including many of the past Monumental Bergs (like the Wolvenberg, Kattenberg, Kapelleberg, Ladeuze, and Eikenberg).
The official 2.5 kilometer sector starts at the intersection between the Kerkgate, Zwadderkotstraat and Bruul – seen here on Google Street View, and connects to the last 350 meters of the Holleweg cobbled sector.
It is a long stretch, so definitely remember to pace yourself.
So who’s ready to tackle the Kerkgate? Or perhaps a shorter section first?
Don’t worry these are nothing compared to the dreaded sectors of Paris-Roubaix in Northern France, in fact they are well maintained with very few spots for concern… it’ll be the length of the section that gets to you if anything.
Hope everyone’s been having a great summer, happy Monday!