Yesterday we organized our second brevet this season in Leuven. I would like to start by thanking Dré from “in Den Vetten Os” for opening the café at 5 AM to serve hot coffee. Arriving back after the ride in Den Vetten Os almost feels like coming home.
So about the ride. It was cold (freezing) when I got outside and took my bike to the start. Erwin and Olivier were already sitting there and even the first randonneurs arrived yet. The forecast wasn’t looking to bad besides the cold in the morning. The route we planned was a classic randonneurs Leuven brevet that was already ridden (and loved) in the past. We tweaked the route a bit and I did a full reconnaissance of the route the past 3 weeks. 41 brave cyclists showed up to tackle the Signal de Botrange. Fun fact: on our previous 200km brevet (aka the stormy one) we joked that we would make sure there was snow on the Botrange … guess what? Yep. After I gave a short briefing about the controls off we went for 300km of glorious roads.
A rather large group quickly formed but I dropped a bit to the back with Olivier and Serge. 35km in the ride I had a rear flat tire. A quick tire change by Olivier and we were off again. We passed Tongeren and after one of the first real climbs we descended towards the first control. A quick stop for a stamp, some food and a coke and we were off again. At the control I also spotted some badass who was riding single speed. My knees were hurting just by the thought of it. When leaving the control it started drizzling a bit. I hooked up with my colleague Yorick who was riding his first brevet 300 today. We ended up riding the rest of the brevet together which was really nice.
After crossing the river Maas we rode in the valley towards the Val-Dieu Abbey. This is just a gentle and beautiful climb. The road surface is also (for Belgian standards) really smooth. In Clermont we would descent towards Dolhain were would face the Mur de Limbourg. I hate this climb but it was the first time I got to ride it on the Noble and it actually went pretty good. Or maybe I just had good legs. Quickly after descending Limbourg the real climb towards the Signal de Botrange starts. The climb via Jalhay is generous on the knees and behold it started snowing. When nearing the summit it was obvious it had snowed quite a lot. We arrived at 12:15 pm and only took a short stop to drink something and started the descend towards Eupen.
We had the plan to eat something in Eupen but weren’t really hungry yet so we set our goal to Kelmis. Arriving in Kelmis I knew it was now only less 10km to go to the next control at the tripoint in Vaals so we talked a bit and decided to ride to Vaals and eat something there (for real!). The climb to the tripoint is beautiful and once on top we rode to the Bokkerijder. The soup of the day and a ham sandwich were perfect to fuel the engine again. We were quickly joined by Hendrik and not so long after Jo and Rudi also joined us. Hendrik, Yorick and I left together at the tripoint and would be riding the rest of the brevet together. I enjoyed their company. The route would now take us through the Voer-region. The only downside here was the fact that we had some headwind but other than that it is sublime to cycle here.
After just about 250km the last control showed up in Borgloon. It was a welcoming stop. We took the time to replenish our energy and set off for the final stretch home. It was a lovely evening with the sunset and we were all very pleased to finally see the Leuven skyline. Days when you get to be on your bike and seeing the sun rise and set are the ones to treasure.
I was very happy to see a lot of smiling faces arriving in Den Vetten Os. Thank you to everyone who showed up. We hope to see you in may for our BRM 400. We promise it will be something special.