This is a ride I always look forward to. It is called 'Just For your Pleasure' and this was its 10th edition already . I know from past years that the tracks laid out by Eric Anris, with a lot of organisational help of his father 'Papy' , are splendid. The weather forecast was not too good, predicting gale-force winds and rain in the afternoon. Yet, when I rode towards the start at 9.35am the sun was shining.
At the "guet-a-pintes", a small local barn-cantine, I met Erics' wife Nancy at the inscriptions and said my hellos to her and her father-in-law.
Distances of 12, 24, 35 and 47K where on offer, the inscription fees ranged from 1 to 4. It would have been nice if they had given me some little paper or sticker with the emergency number on, but either they were all gone (I was late at the start, around 10.15 am) or they were not foreseen.
There was also a chrono race over the longest distance but those guys already left at 8.30.
I did not feel too good at the start so decided to take it easy and see how my legs would evolve during the ride. The first few k's already brought a good climb into Beaumont forest and things were ondulating up and down relentlessly after that. Some nice slippery singletrack section in Nethen brought us quickly via a forest-edge passage into Meerdaelwoud and to the first rest stop in the centre of Nethen, only 7K into the ride. Bit of a surprise but this early stop was caused by the fact that they also wanted the people, mostly families, who did the 12K to have a rest stop. Lots of power drinks and some food but nothing I really fancied this early in the ride.
After the rest stop we had to go up one of those very steep trails that end up on the sandy hill overlooking Nethen. I only got up about 3/4 of the climb but had to bail out because some other biker had bike troubles and was blocking the track. Oh well, I don't think I would have made the climb anyway, or at least not the last couple of meters which were very steep with a step in them as well. Some nice singletrack followed and then a quick tarmac drop back into Nethen. We then had to ride some cobbles towards the famous 'jungle' climb that only was muddy at the very start but went without problem for the rest of the climb. It hadn't really rained for a couple of days so the trails were almost completely dry, not counting a single mudhole here and there.
The ride went over towards La Malaise , Hamme Mille and Bossut now, where we got the full force of the wind in our faces. I was following some other guys and failed to see the arrow pointing to the right. At the next crossroads , everyone of the group was looking around in every direction to see where we had to go.. bugger, no more arrows..damn.. But then a smart guy (no not me, another one ) saw some bikers taking the turn we had passed by , so we hurried back to rejoin the good path once more. It was rather crowded and I think they had a very good attendance for this ride.
The trails now took us over Archennes, Les Monts, La Motte and Gastuche towards the Bois de Laurensart and Ottenburg, still taking in about every climb there was, forcing me to strain my muscles.
But I was getting better with every kilometer. I've always been a good climber and I never had to leave the middle ring once during this ride. I made all the climbs except two; the steep and blocked one after the first rest stop and another one near the end, on the "railroad singletrack" in Florival. But we'll get to that later.
For now I was enjoying the tracks , the clouds were getting darker though and I was sure we would not keep it dry. I was not wrong. The second rest stop was just after a very steep climb in the Bois de Laurensart, up to "De Tomme" . I made this one without fault on the middle ring. I think my choice of tyres, the very grippy 2.1 inch WTB Weirwolf , was spot-on for this type of weather. Only bad thing about the Weirwolfs is that they shed off the mud very aggressively, making for a dirty face and bottom. But they find grip where other tyres don't , even on slippery off-camber stuff. Good tyre.
The second rest stop, hmm, not much left to eat and I grabbed some part of a banana and drank a well-tasting sports drink. The 35K distance split off from the 47K after this rest stop and all of a sudden I was riding practically alone. There was a fine loop coming up, dropping us down into Neerpoorten and there we followed the Overijse BLOSO track in reverse towards Sint Agatha Rode , through the Sint Agatha Rode bos. It had started to rain now and the fierce wind made me groan when I had it straight in the face climbing back up towards Ottenburg and later towards the Kouter. I knew Eric always leaves some of the toughest bits for the end, so I was still holding back on the power, riding on economy. I was not wrong. The last 9k of the ride were fingerlicking good . Some steep stuff after Florival going up the Verte Voie, back down again, following the railroad singletrack, where I had to dismount due to temporary blindness caused by the rain (yeah right, the hill was just too steep and the roots took me by surprise). After this nice track we once again faced a tough climb, starting out with a very muddy patch where I was enjoying my Weirwolfs once again while a lot of people had to walk. After that the track got steeper and steeper but yet again I made the climb, shouting my way past bikers who were walking , dazed and confused as they were by the toughness of the track and probably wishing they had chosen some shorter distance. Just a few more efforts now before I arrived back at the start, it was raining quite happily now and with some 9 more K to go to get back home, I didn't bother to stop and wash my bike.
Judging by the queue there were only two hoses anyway. The ride back had another 130 heightmeters on offer and by the time I was home, I was wet from the water spray caused by the tyres on the tarmac. Tired yes, but also very pleased I did not quit when the rain started and completed the ride.
Ride Stats : 49K and 776 heightmeters
What I liked:
+ great area
+ arrowing was sparse but without fault
+ distance splits were well marked.
+ 2 rest stops on the longer distances
+ danger markers at the really dangerous spots/downhills
+ plenty of drinks at the rest stops
What I did not like:
- Arrowing could have been better, was too sparse at places
- No emergency number leaflet/sticker was handed out (or they were out of them when I started )
- There could have been more food at the rest stops
great ride, providing distances for each level from 12K to 47K. Tricky and well-thought circuit meant you had to push until the last meter. This is one ride to look forward to.
The Bare Facts:
Ride Profile : CLICK
Some pictures taken by Schijfrem :
Results of the Chrono : CLICK
03-12-2006, 17:24 geschreven door Big Bad Wolf