Didn't feel like an organised ride today. No doubt most trails would be muddy and since going to the Ardennes under those circumstances is out of the question I answered positively to the invitation of Michael - aka the Big Dane - from BigM to go and have a workout at Bois des Reves. Bois des Reves is a parc in Ottignies where they have a MTB trail spanning some 2.8K and 80 heightmeters. Over the years I've added to that and now my lap consists of 5.5K and 140 heightmeters. We met at the carpark and I did a first lap with Michael showing him the way around the trails. He decided to stick to the 2.8K loop and since he was a lot stronger in the uphills and I wanted to do at least 40K today I let him ride alone. He needs to work on his technique and also for that Bois des Reves is great. The trail consists of some downhills with switchbacks that have roots in them, followed by steep uphills and some tricky passages over roots. The safety nets from last years' Belgian Mountainbike Championships were still there. One passage in particular took me 3 laps to feel secure enough to ride it. But I did and I was pleased with that. The rest of the track is just a matter of staying concentrated and push hard on the steep uphill sections. I left it on the middle ring and I made all the hills.
I found another alternative uphill which avoids having to turn on some roots and is a bit less steep than its alternative as well. The sweeping downhill through the valley which the Piste VTT follows was blocked by a big tree so we needed an alternative for that as well. I only saw Michael again at one point when he was trying to figure out the best line down on one of the switchbacks. I showed him the perfect track and after that I didn't see him again. When I was finished doing my laps I waited for him at the entrance but it appeared he had already gone.. Hmm, not very nice to leave without a message but I'm sure he left because his car wasn't at the car park either. Me I had a very good workout, and a tough ride as well. 7 big laps netted me almost 1100 heightmeters. The Litespeed was more than sufficient on these trails - it's light and nimble - but on some if the more technical tracks I would have prefered a stiffer front end (blame the SID for that ) and some suspension in the rear. The ride's profile tells a thousand tales I'm sure.
Ride Stats : 40.5K and 1080 heightmeters in 2h51mins Hill Factor : 26.6 Ride's Profile :
It had rained considerably last night and during part of the day so I mounted mud fenders on the Litespeed and left with waterproof clothing as I rode up to Overijse to meet with Guna. Amazingly enough not a single drop would fall during our ride together. I proposed to do the 2 Valleien route, a marked BLOSO trail with starting points in Overijse, Terlanen and Ottenburg and covering around 36K and some 480 heightmeters. Guna did not do them before so I was curious about her opinion about them. They are rather interesting, with some nice hills, some rather steep and a couple of tricky downhills, especially on the Red route. I was expecting quite a bit of mud but as it turned out only in the forest were a few muddy sections. Some of the downhills proved quite a challenge though because of the wash of water which had carved some gullies . But on the whole the tracks were fine.
At a few places I took an alternative route to avoid some tarmac or offer an alternative climb. Guna didn't object. I suppose by now she knows I like to climb and am always looking for the 'better track' , even on marked trails. I made the steep tricky one climbing out of Huldenberg, mainly due to the rain carving a nice broad gully. I was very pleased with that, especially on the Litespeed which offers a bit less traction due to the lack of suspension in the rear. But the 1.8 Nobby Nics I mounted made up for that I'm sure. They are narrow and carve their way towards traction. When we separated in Overijse after about 35K and 470 heightmeters on the 2 Valleien route, we noticed some dark clouds were gathering. I made it home just in time to feel only the first drops and I hope Guna made it home dry as well. Now all thats left is the task to clean the bike for its next ride. By the time I write this I see lightning flashing and hear the thunder roaring as the rain crashes down.
Temps were not as high anymore but the wind was also gone. All was quiet in the forest that lay still with held breath as if in wait for the rain. Much needed rain as all is bone-dry. I took the Litespeed and the narrow 2.0 NBX Lite tyres gave me quite a workout as I hobbled over the rooty singletrails of the first part of my secret Meerdael route. About 50 minutes into the ride it started to rain, just enough to feel it but not enough to make me turn towards home just yet. I completed the loop and stopped at the Warande pond for a little while. A stork flew away as I made my way around the little pond.
My bike was covered in debris that stuck to the raindrops while I made my way through the little trails. I didn't feel like riding any more that about 30K so I arrived home in time to avoid the real downpour later in the evening.
This morning when I woke up I noticed my legs were still full from this weekends' rides. So instead of adding another 1000hm+ ride at Ferrieres I decided to take it easy and do an active recovery ride instead.The weather was still great and I set out on my Hilset. The plan was to ride all the way to Lasne, were an organised ride was starting today, have a look around and ride back. Over Terlanen, Tombeek and Rixensart I followed a softly hilly terrain, my heartrate at a safe 105bpm average. In Lasne I made a quick tour around the starting area and the returned over Rixensart and Tombeek to Sint Joris Weert. I stopped to take some pictures of the donkey family there, they were already four.
Next up I briefly stopped at the source near Camping La Hetraie to stock up on cool drinking water before returning over Nethen and Hamme Mille. I had about the same mileage as yesterday but was almost an hour faster. Legs felt good after some initial stiffness and the cool tempo certainly left me feeling good and rested near the end of the ride. The warm weather didn't bother me because there was a noticeable wind blowing which kept the air masses flowing.