It was snowing lightly this morning. I rode out with the plan to pick up on the Zoenk organised ride which passed 300m from my home, and then do the 65K loop until it got back in Vaalbeek. That way I would have the most interesting bit of the loop and since I wasn't going past the start/finish I had no right to stop at the 2 rest stops. But that didn't bother me. I hardly drink during my winter rides and with the pace I was making I would be burning mostly fatty tissue.From the start, when I joined the tracks of many bikers on the Margrietendreef, I felt that the trails would be a lot more slippery then when I rode alone 2 days ago. Due to the many tyres that passed before me, the trail became icy and very treacherous. It would snow throughout the entire ride and this new snow added to the icy conditions. Best was to ride in new snow, but this was not always possible. When I reached the first serious downhill in Nethen it proved near to impossible to brake without locking up the wheels. And of course, when the downhill is steep, you simply HAVE to brake. I tried but I slided on my left side. From then I was a bit more cautious and chose to walk the steepest parts of the downhills. Even walking down was difficult. Some bikers tried to ride but many would abandon soon and choose to walk or ride with one foot grazing the ground. When you had a good view of where you were going, you could choose to let the bike go, not touching the brakes except the rear one. And then - with a lot of luck and perhaps a bit of skill - you would make the downhill with the rubber side down. Luckily, when the 55K and later the 65K trails split off from the lesser distances, there were less bikers which meant less trails and less icyness. Except for the tarmac roads, and the cobbles, where care had to be taken. The field roads near to Bossut were covered with deep snow .
Most of the tarmac trails were full of snow as well , there was no salt used here, and your best bet is to ride in the middle of the road, between the car trails, where the snow would be looser and thus offering more traction. Luckily the very steep tarmac roads were clear of snow, it would have been very dangerous otherwise. When I reached Gastuche and got set for the long climb towards Ottenburg, I knew the most difficult part of the 65K trail was coming now. The Zoenkers have conceived a very nice succession of climbs and downhills here. The track was the same as last years' - which I had done a couple of times with my GPS - so there were no surprises for me. I knew the trails intimately which helped a lot to anticipate where the slippery parts would be. Still, sometimes even on flat trails all of a sudden my front wheel would start to slide. Lightning fast reactions were needed. I saw some evidence of fallen bikers, some skid marks here and there and I also saw bikers crashing in front of me. I hope that all went well and the damage was limited to some bruises and hurt pride. The section in Nethen, after the second rest stop , was also a very nice one, with the Pecrot singletrack taking on a new dimension of difficult. Trying not to look down into the abyss on the left, trying not to let your wheels slip. Very demanding biking. The temperatures were mostly just below zero but sometimes the tracks were close to muddy. On these parts of course there was no danger of sliding. When I reached Nethen again the lesser distances were joining the longer ones again and the icyness of the trails increased. Upon reaching the Vaalbeek border I decided to ride in, leaving out the last bit of the ride which was mainly in Heverlee bos. Not a lot of challenges there. I was surprised at the amount of heightmeters my Garmin returned. Perhaps they did add some extras but mostly I believe the track was the same as last years.
When I got home I was very pleased with my ride. The cold didn't bother me, and even though I had some bruises on my left hip and shoulder I could not complain about my physical prowess. I felt tired , both mentally from the concentration and physically from the sheer difficulty of the ride. Thanks to the Zoenkers. Even though I had the track on GPS I was glad that the arrowing was immaculate and I'm sure that for those who payed the insciption fee, the rest stops proved to be well stocked.
Ride Stats : 57K and 840/915 heightmeters (Polar/Garmin) in 3h59mins. -1 degrees C average temp.
14-02-2010, 17:02 geschreven door Big Bad Wolf