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My Favorite 375 Meters in the Sport (Re-posted)

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Paterberg2_medium

(Photo by Chris Fontecchio)

Note: With De Ronde 3 days away and with a new parcours, I thought it appropriate to re-post about my favorite climb in the sport, that may now be the most important...

Sure, the Koppenberg with it's illustrious history of heartbreak, devilish 22% face, and the river of mud that always seems to be flowing, is often the centerpiece of any Ronde Van Vlaanderan discussion, but often overlooked is it's next door neighbor the Paterberg. The Paterberg came into existence when a local farmer (envious of a friend whose house was on the Koppenberg) laid the cobblestones up the steep hill beginning in 1982 and finishing in 1983. In 1986 it became a near permanent fixture in the Ronde.

More on the Flip...

The Paterberg, although a "new" road, feels as if it had been built in the 17th century. The stones are jagged and cruel and will rattle your fillings loose. The climb averages 12.9% with a max grade of 20% and there is no warm-up or cool-down. You make the 90 deg turn from Middelloopstraat onto Paterbergstraat and it hits you like a Chimay Trippel on an empty stomach. Television never really does it justice, but when you reach the top and look down, the pitch is evident.

Paterberg_medium

(Photo by Chris Fontecchio)

The view from the unobstructed summit stretches beyond the towns of Kluisbergen and Kwaremont well into the Flemish countryside. What has always appealed to me however is the feeling as if you are riding through someones very steep backyard past their house on one side and the fence (with the staggered rails that serve to remind you how bloody steep it is) on the other side as you make your way to the 90+ deg left onto Stooktestraat at which point your heart is racing and your legs are searing with pain.

Too early to be decisive and too short to be selective, the Ronde still wouldn't feel right without it.

Too close to the finish and too steep to be anything but decisive..