I initially wasn't planning on doing much this sunday. I stayed in bed late and after that made my ride report on yesterdays ride. Around noon my friend Roger passed by. He was very enthusiastic about the Loonbeek ride so I decided to ride out anyway and try to pick up on this ride. The weather was dry but with menacing clouds and quite a fierce westerly wind. The first 12K took me up and down through Meerdael forest. I was on the Merlin again and none of the trails proved to be a real challenge for this bike. When I climbed out of Nethen towards Pecrot I saw an arrow which I knew belonged to the Loonbeek ride. It was nearly 2pm so I was a bit surprised the de-arrowing team had not yet passed. Anyway, I followed the arrows and before long I rode through Sint Agatha Rode and the Margijsbos into Loonbeek were the official start was. The ride then made a loop around Huldenberg. Check the GPS map I have included below for the exact route. It proved to be a very nice loop but they left some challenging bits out. Probably didn't want to make the ride too difficult. The arrowing was sparse but sufficient. Obviously no feed zones but that didn't bother me, I always carry enough food and drink and not having paid any entrance I wasn't going to stop even if they had still been there. But all was gone, except the arrows and some danger signs. I didn't see any distance splits which was peculiar but since I was aiming for the longest distance anyway I didn't really care.
Roger had mentioned a steep climb and when the route looped back towards Sint Agatha Rode Bos I instinctively knew which climb it was going to be. Indeed, the 25% gradient climbing up into that forest proved quite a workout. But I know this climb very well and it proved no difficulty for the Merlin or me. But I can imagine a lot of people walking here. The trails then continued towards Archennes for a big loop into Brabant Walloon. Bossut, Gottechain, just shy of Grez Doiceau and then Hamme Mille before going back towards Nethen and the point where I picked up on the lap. I had around 62K and 750 heightmeters here, the Loonbeek ride was 50K and some 540 heightmeters. I looped back into Meerdael forest for a final stretch before arriving home.
Ride Stats : 71K and 845/942 heightmeters (Polar/Garmin) in 3h39mins Loonbeek TT : 50K and 534 heightmeters (Polar) MAP : PROFILE : (click)
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