Got out of bed this morning and the sun was shining bright.I had decided to do the organised ride in Wavre. Starting in the Institut Careme - a school - and having a good reputation for being a solid ride through beautiful landscapes just south of the language border in Brabant Walloon. I set out on the Moots YBB and 17K and some 55mins later I parked my bike in the guarded bike-zone. Someone called my name, and I recognized Benno W. He had some trouble with his rear disc brake, apparently the brake pads just fell out . I left my bike with him whilst going to the inscription.
The Ride :
Paid 4 Euros, made a picture of the ride map and went back to the bike park, where Benno had come to the conclusion that a Shimano brake pad doesn't fit in a non-Shimano brake, and decided to ride the TT without a rear brake. We decided to start together and I quickly snapped a picture of the two titanium bikes whilst he went to the inscription. There were rides of 15K (guided kids tour), 35, 40 and 55K on offer. The 55K is good for a solid 1000 heightmeters.
When he came back we started, but on an uphill just 20m into the ride he had a lot of trouble shifting and I noticed with a shock one of his jockey wheels fell out of the rear derailleur. "Game Over" it would seem and I left him there. Perhaps he was able to find a replacement and could still start, I hope so.
The 55K ride was in the opposite direction from last year, which meant we first went towards the Bois des Neulettes before dropping down into Dion and then made our way towards Gastuche. Here we had to climb - steep - towards Ottenburg. A very nice section this, very well known to me so I thoroughly enjoyed it. Before long I was riding down into a section of the Bois de Laurensart, a famous mudhole, but this time there was nearly any mud to be seen. Care had to be taken with the deep ruts which were hard and dry. A little bit later the first rest stop announced itself. Lots of calories to eat and a good-tasting mix of water and grenadine. There were no big biker masses on this ride, we were on a loop that was reserved for the 40 and 55K riders.
Riding uphill now towards the Noire Epine where we would turn into the direction of Wavre again. A very technical downhill, I remember some steps where I had to avoid bikers standing still and then a nice singletrack section along the Terrain de Golf . After that we crossed the N4 and started making our way towards Rosieres. Some nice GR trails here before we undercrossed the E411 and started moving south towards Bierges. Here the second rest stop was situated and I had another good eat and drink.
Now followed a special loop for the 55K riders with lots of climbing and descending which brought us through Limelette and then back to Limal. The arrowing had been fine so far, a bit sparse at times but more than sufficient. I could see by the people that were walking their bikes on the uphills that things were becoming tough. A last extra loop for the 55K and all of a sudden I was riding alone. I suspect a lot of people to have cut short here. Another great downhill and I was nearing the 1000 heightmeters marker when another climb announced itself. This must surely be the last one? A the top I followed another biker and missed an arrow. After a while I became suspect and turned around. At that time I was already on the N4 descending into Wavre.
So I turned back and quickly found the arrow I missed and another tricky descent followed, this time the last one for sure. We were now in Bierges with the Walibi parc on our left. A trail next to the railroad and we were back on the Avenue des Mesanges where the Institut Careme is situated. Very pleased with the ride which once again proved why I like it so much. A succession of nice tracks, steep uphills, tricky descents and very now and then a part where you can recuperate on some flatter trails. The amount of tarmac is kept to a minimum, obviously getting out of Wavre and entering it again is mostly tarmac. It is a big city but even here the organisers found some trails leading through parcs or small backroads.
The Lowdown :
Not much can be added. This remains one of my favorite rides in this area. Well thought out trail succession, making the most of the area. Technical every now and then, steep hills, tricky descents, some sandy patches, one uphill that had everyone walking because it was simply to steep to ride. And for 2 years in a row the weather was sunny and dry, putting the icing on the cake. They had added an extra rest stop on the 55K , where only water could be had , but which proved to be a great idea with this sunny weather. A big word of thanks has to go out to all the volunteers who helped us cross the busy roads around Wavre. And of course everyone who helped - once again - to make this ride such a success. I hope they had a good attendance to help them cover the costs.
What I liked :
+Great Trails, with attention to lesser visited tracks
+the region and the use they make of what is offered.
+dangerous downhills and road crossing well marked
+big road crossings staffed by volunteers.
+distance splits well marked before the split.
+2 big rest stops and an extra drink stop on the 55K
+all this for only 4 Euros.
+Emergency number on cards handed out at the start.
+bike park with surveillance
What I did not like:
-arrowing sometimes a bit sparse. Care had to be taken.
Ride Stats : 94K and 1150/1275 heightmeters (Polar/Garmin) in 5h9mins
TT Stats : 58K and 975 heightmeters (Garmin)
Hill factor : 16,8