Early rise at 6am to be at the start at 7. I had the task to check the arrowing on the longest distance of todays "Meerdaal 2000" organised ride. Regular readers of my blog will have read about the buildup to this organised ride since I already rode the 65K and the 45K in the last couple of weeks.
I had to use the Lupine Tesla headlight for the first 45 minutes, because in the forest it was still pretty dark. I rode alone , the others were already going to check some lost arrows in Blanden. Once I was out in the fields past Valduc I could do without a light since the sun was now up, albeit hidden behind menacing clouds. It had rained a little bit yesterday and last night, but for today no more rain was forecast and with 11 degrees C it looked to be a good day for a ride. The track had been changed in the last couple of days because of refused permissions. Also the approach to the first feed zone was different from what I had in the track they gave me a few weeks back . But when I arrived in Gottechain the arrows were still very much in place. I paused briefly a the feed zone - they were still building it, along with a stand from Concap - to remove the headlight from my helmet and put it in my Deuter backpack. Then I rode on for what promised to be a hilly and technical 20K, the extra loop the 65K did.
The 45K distance split was at that first feed zone. Permission to enter Pietrebais had been denied so the track was changed here, with the loss of a very nice singletrack downhill and an uphill towards Heze. Instead the trail looped directly to Heze after the technical climb in Cocrou.
The long climb from downtown Heze to the Chapelle du Cheneau was still there, 60 heightmeters in one go. But in Longueville the track was also altered. Instead of a very technical loop with a tricky downhill and a very difficult ascent up towards the fields of Chaumont, the track now stayed in the valley and followed the little rivulet/trail towards the "Pink Fishery" in Bonlez. These two alterations cost them at least a 100 heightmeters but there is no other option than to obey the rules set by the communities you are passing through. The trails seemed a bit wetter here than around Meerdael Forest, perhaps it has rained a little more or a little later last night. Back in Heze and then working my way up towards Biez I was joined by a another biker.
I was surprised to see a biker overtaking me so soon so I asked him what distance he was on. Seemed he had left Bierbeek at 8.15am and was set to do the 45K. But he did not pass the first feed zone so he must have missed an arrow and must have joined the 55/65K track beyond the feed zone. Unfortunately for him this also meant missing the 45K split. But I told him we were not far from the 2nd feed zone - which was the first feed zone again, it served as a double feed zone - so from there he would still have 25K to go. After the 2nd passage at the feed zone in Gottechain the trail turns towards Archennes and Pecrot for some interesting tracks, some very difficult - and dangerous - descents and then in Nethen we disappeared into Meerdael Forest again. In Sint Joris Weert the 3rd feed zone was situated, with the ever lovely and friendly Red Bull Girls offering every biker a Red Bull and a smile. A joy to behold after all the hard work.
I stopped a while to chat up with another member of the organisation, giving him some feedback about my ride and the difficulties some riders had . He told me that at this time they already had between 1400 and 1500 participants which was a very high attendance. The last kilometers were spent on the big ring for most of the time, with still some nasty little climbs here and there. When I reached Bierbeek I was glad to see my friend Roger, who had done the 45K. Another 6K and I was back home for a warm bath and a good meal. I had a good ride, the trail traction was ideal, some wind on the plains, a good amount of heightmeters and very clement weather conditions. I have uploaded the 65k track to EveryTrail for those who would like to ride it again, just click on the link below.
Ride Stats : 77K and 890/1005 heightmeters in 4h6mins
GPS track on EveryTrail
Meerdaal 2000 TT 65K 25okt2009 at EveryTrail
Map created by EveryTrail: Share GPS Tracks
25-10-2009, 13:10 geschreven door Big Bad Wolf