6.57 am. The moon is
my only companion as I leave my home to ride towards Bierbeek and the
start of the Meerdael 2000 organized ride. It's a lush 7 degrees C and
I'm feeling fine. Only my fingers are a bit cold when I arrive at the
venue some 15 minutes later. As usual I help the organisation . My role
is to ride the big loop of 55K to check the arrowing. The sun is just
about to appear above the horizon as I start out on the loop around
7.25am. At first I ride together with some of the other guys but at
the split between the 25/35K and 45/55K distances I continue on my own
in the awakening forest. I love riding alone like this, and I am only
passed by 2 riders before I reach the first rest stop some 20K
into the ride. They are still building up the rest stop so I only
report I had to add 2 arrows at some dodgy points and then continue on my
way. I have been riding into the ethereal and absolutely dry-trailed Meerdael forest for quite a while now and
only after hooking up with the shorter distance the trail slowly leads us out
of the forest and into the fields of Hamme Mille and beyond. It is still early but the
sun is out and a little wind becomes noticeable from westerly directions. I
pass some more riders now - official start is from 8.30 onwards so the early
starters are already well onto the loop - and get passed by one or two
pocket rockets. I am tempted to up the speed and follow them but I
decide to wait until after the 2nd rest stop to go a little faster. I have to keep concentrating on checking the arrows instead of just following the well-known trails. At the 2nd rest stop, which is about 37K into the ride, I have something to drink (some very yummie banana-mango-fruit yogo drink offered by Chiquita )
and a little snack. Sadly there is no more sponsoring from Red Bull - I
miss the Red Bull girls and their gentle smiles... Red Bull come back !! After this rest stop I stay more or less in
the fields with only a small section into Meerdael Forest again before
splitting off from the main loop for another extra loop only the 35K
and 55K riders can enjoy. My speed is well up now and on the flat
sections I enjoy the occasional push from the wind, which seems to be
gaining speed as well. Every now and then I enjoy the comfort of the Moots as a section of cobbles is thrown our way.. Nothing beats titanium in riding over cobbles. At the end of the ride I have 57.5K and just shy of 580
heightmeters. Average speed of nearly 21kph is fine for me. I'm in
just before the last riders are allowed on the trails and I hear that
there have been at least 1500 inscriptions, which is a great success
for the organisation. This is largely due to the great weather
conditions but also to the grapevine buzz this ride has enjoyed and
which has been very positive throughout the years.
Upon returning home I make some
extra loops to enjoy the really beautiful weather conditions, leaving
me with almost 71K and a nice 665 heightmeter total.
morning I met up with some bikers from BigM to have a singletrack ride
in the Meerdael Forest. The guide knew his way around and we had a
great ride, taking in a lot of little trails, nasty climb and tricky
downhills. In all, the distance wasn't that overwhelming but that was
more due to the twisty nature of the tracks. The trail conditions are
still excellent, moist at most but usually dry and fast. Temps were in
the 8 degrees C region and the overcast weather rendered the Forest a
bit gloomy but with all the autumn colors it was actually a feast for
the eyes. Days like these are among the finest to be in the forest and
we really made the best of it today.
An overcast day but not too cold, some 10 degrees C when I started around 4.30pm. Today I did the Blue Meerdael loop, which is the most challenging of the loops. Add to that a few climbs I always include and some alternative bits to spice up things and you get a nice lttle ride. I stopped in the neighborhood of the Kluis to take some photographs - flash was already necessary.
The trails were excellent, dry and with lots of leaves to hide the meanies. Around 6 I was back home, just before dusk set in.
Zero degrees this morning but dry and sunny weather throughout the day. Decided to go offroad today and take the Moots for a spin. I felt good and did the Green Meerdael BLOSO at a quick pace. The tracks were covered with leaves, making some turns pretty hazardous because of the hidden nasties that tried to pull the bike to the ground. But the clean and crisp forest air made blasting around through it a fine experience. Only my hands felt a bit cold near the end when the sun began to set , clear skies holding the promise of another cold night. My back felt fine during the ride, giving me an optimistic feeling for next weekend.
Went looking for some winter wheels and tyres for the Mazda MPS 3 today. Not an easy task since the wheel has to be 17 or 18 inches high to allow for the big 320mm discbrakes and the tyres have to be at leastV rated (up to 240kph) which is not that easy to find in Winter Tyres. Normally I need W rated tyres (up to 270kph) but these are not available in Winter trim. My garage had some 17 inch rims lying around and gave me a very good price for them . As for the tyres they will be Vredesteins Wintrac Xtreme in205/50 R 17 93 V XL. The winter wheels allow for my summer set to last a lot longer whilst not being harmed by salt and other assailants while I'm using tyres that are more adapted to the colder temperatures. I have been using them for 4 years now on my former car and can only tell positive things about the concept.
Ride Stats : 27.5K and 190 heightmeters in 1h15mins