After a day of continuous rain this morning saw a drenched landscape wake up under fog and temperatures around 10 degrees C. There was no more rain forecast - at least not for this part of Belgium - so I decided to ride out for a long road ride. I started following some arrows that passed in front of my house and they led me through Meerdael Forest, Sint Joris Weert, Neerijse and Leefdaal towards Vossem. Here they seemed to end. I rode through the Tervuren park, its ponds still under a shroud of mist but the sun was making an effort to pierce through the low-clouds layer. Rode on towards Hoeilaart and from there towards Maleizen. I was on a relatively slow pace but I couldn't resist incorporating some climbs along the way. Especially around Hoeilaart and later when I descended into Genval I was being served with steep tarmac sections. When I reached the Lac de Genval the sun came through the clouds and the temperatures began to rise a couple of degrees. Climbing towards Rixensart and dropping down into Rosieres I rode towards Tombeek and the Wavre industrial parc Noir Epine. Then the track lead me into Ottenburg , Eerken and Pecrot before reaching Nethen and Hamme Mille to complete my ride. The legs felt surprisingly good on the climbs and with the sun coming out it was a nice ride with a surprisingly high amount of heightmeters.
Ride Stats : 77K and 730/746 heightmeters (Polar/Garmin) in 3h27mins
Had to wait for a thunderstorm to blow past meerdael forest, only a few drops falling - OK it was more than a few drops but with temps in the low 20 degrees C after it stopped rained things dried out very quickly. First I didn't want to go out, preparing my Crossmax SL wheel to be examined by the wheel doctor - think it will be terminal though - but then I said to myself ; what the heck, get your bum in gear and go out there. Tomorrow rain is forecast and now the trails are still perfect. So out I went. I rode to where I left my Secret Meerdael Loop yesterday and got on with the remaining third of that 65K/1000 heightmeters extravaganza. Climbing constantly over ridges and dropping down on the other side again this is one tough loop. I found another loop I could add when I rode around the Beaumont hill in Pecrot. Great, another 50 heightmeters . I saw some menacing clouds again but couldn't hear any rumble of distant thunder so I rode on. Near the end of the ride things got serious when it started raining and thunder and lightning caught up with me. I managed to get out of the forest before the real thunderstorm was over it but just like two hours before, it didn't really strike Meerdael forest, just moved around it. The last kilometer it was raining though so I got a bit wet. Another 400 heightmeters added under my belt with a slightly longer distance than yesterday. Saw some roedeer again, life can be good. I was lucky to have my GPS with me when I was on a new track which turned out to be a cul-de-sac. On my GPS I saw a road parallel to the one I was on, I only needed to cross a little ravine. All went well, even though the forest was filled with fallen trees due to heavy forestry works. One advantage of having a light bike is that is easy to carry around. Keep the rubber side down.
Ride Stats : 25.5K and 395/413 heightmeters in 1h41mins
This evening saw a warm and sunny climate so I felt like riding into Meerdael forest and just do some easy riding and climbing along my Secret Meerdael loop. The forest this time of year is at its most accessible. There isn't any foliage in the trees yet so the light that reaches the forest floor is unfiltered, clear and bright, exposing myriads of white flowers and all details of the forest to the watchful eye. The topography of terrain is easily overviewed , no leaves on the various brushes either and I spotted several roedeer during my ride. I did the second third of my loop - the intense climbing part between the Warande and the climb along the Savenel wall. When I reached that wall I heard the distant rumble of thunder and I decided to call it a day. The sun - which shone brightly during the first hour of the ride - had been obscured by clouds for quite a while and the clouds were getting distinctly more dark and menacing. Nevertheless I got a solid 400 heightmeters in without having to strain myself. I just shifted on the granny gear in front and pedalled easy during the multitude of climbs. The downhills were a joy because the trails were perfectly dry and offering good grip both in the corners and during the steep downhill sections. What a beautiful way to enjoy mountainbiking.
Ride Stats : 23.5K and 400/409 heightmeters (Polar/Garmin) in 1h31mins
Normally I would have been on Accro Bike trails today but yesterday I had a bit of a sore feeling in my lower back so I thought it best not to risk anything. This morning I felt nothing of the expected soreness so against 11am I decided to ride out anyway. Nothing too easy but also nothing too difficult. So the Overijse Bloso's come to mind. Obviously I wouldn't ride them in the normal direction but decided to ride them in the counterdirection of the arrows. There was a big manifestation in Meerdael involving horses and carriages so the Weertse Dreef was closed for all traffic except cyclists, walkers and horses. Great, that is the way it should remain. This road is used by a lot of people to sneak from Wavre to the Haasrode industry area, and it is not made for that. I would be pleased if they closed it up for all motorised traffic once and for all.
In and around Ottenburg there were a lot of walkers about which made me choose some other trails from time to time. I felt OK but keeping in mind what I felt yesterday I did not seek the extreme challenges today. Nevertheless I ended up all of the steep climbs , both off and on the Overijse trail , and having no trouble at all . Well , that is not exactly correct because my rear derailleur gave me some trouble. When passing a couple of walkers I had to seek the border of the trail and there I picked up an old and rusty bicycle spoke. This lodged itself solid between the cage of my rear derailleur and my wheel. Causing the chain to jump and as I would notice later, also caused a dent in the wheel and when shifting to the biggest ring on the cassette my chain would jump over the ring and lodge itself between the cassette and the spokes. NOT a good thing. I tried fiddling a bit with the derailleur arm - which must have had a thud - but in the end decided not to use the upper gear, instead changing to the small ring in front more often. Since the rear derailleur also was uneasy on the smaller cassette cogs I added a bit of tension to the cable and that seemed to help. Also shifting up to the biggest cog went without a problem after that. The only thing I needed to do was to loosen my v-brake a bit because of the dent in the rear wheel. I need to get that wheel checked this week. Other than that the ride was fine. Around noon the sun broke through and the temperatures became a pleasant 17 degrees C. The trails were surprisingly dry around Overijse and only when I returned towards Meerdael Forest did I see some more mud puddles. Obviously still remnants of last fridays' thunderstorm.
Ride Stats : 57K and 780/745 heightmeters in 3h07mins