"Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride" Eddy Merckx

In the jacuzzi with Emma Johansson

From 2007 onwards, this Swedish professional cyclist has spent most of her year in Belgium. More specifically, she spends it at Bed & Breakfast Abel Abri in Zingem, a village in the middle of the Flemish Ardennes. 


Emma Johansson: “I grew up ‘outdoors’, in the countryside of northern Sweden. That’s why I feel so at home in Zingem. It’s the ideal base for my training. I can cycle as soon as I step outside. For a little more action, I go to Ghent or Oudenaarde, both of which are great places to shop or meet friends for a drink.”


“Taking saunas is part of Swedish culture. I love how they relax me. What’s great about Belgium is that there are many small wellness centres that can be hired privately. I occasionally take a sauna, a steam bath or a Jacuzzi. I also value a good massage and a facial.”


“I love Belgian bread and coffeecakes. Nothing tastes as good as a freshly baked loaf of bread after an intense workout. In Sweden, there are virtually no bakers or butchers anymore, whereas you can find them on every street corner here. And the Flemish gladly provide that personal touch with regard to accommodation. The best proof of this are all the B&Bs in the area. Each one has a different feel, but you will be welcomed with equal warmth at every one of them. Have you noticed that I like being in Flanders?”


Wellness tip: Wellness La Cereza, Geraardsbergenstraat 144, 9700 Oudenaarde (Volkegem), www.lacereza.be 


Emma Johansson (29) won a silver medal in the Olympic road race in Peking in 2008, and a bronze medal at the Cycling World Championships in 2010. She has lived and trained mainly in Belgium since 2007.

Text: Veerle Symoens – Pictures: Jonas Roosens

You should
do this!

Visit the pittoresk town Zingem.