Anybody who knows anything about Belgian mountain biking knows that, well, it’s no Oakridge. Trails are straight and flat, or, if in historically famous mtb locations like Houffalize, they are run straight up and down the hillsides. Yawn…. Yep, it’s a racer’s world here, and there is no carbon Bronto with bar ends coming any time soon.
Still, we keep hope. We continue to ride in new places…there MUST be something out there. And last Sunday we found it. Alex and I hit an organized ride down just south of Liege. I had done this event 4 years ago and was not impressed. But this time…HOLY CRAP…absolutely fantastic.
In fact, easily the best mtb ride I’ve done in Belgium, and an epic ride in any country. I was too lazy to remove the 20T freewheel from my Bronto, but that would prove to be a good thing – hugemongous climbs that were steep, rocky, and technical. Yes!!!
And what goes up…you know how it goes. I’ve done rides here where you climb up a brutal little beast, only to end up riding down a paved road (so sad…). Not this time. The first gambit was a steep, rocky section that was tricky…and then turned steeper and ran down a running stream. The Bronto Willy was spot-on all day long. Climbing like a machine, and man-handling whatever descent got in its way.
This was the mountain biking of old, that I remember from the 80s. The whole day was like this – big gnarly climbs, and tricky descents, dotted with fantastic views. And like all Belgian events, there were food tents with drink and waffles. All for 4 euros.
Yes, riding like in the 80s in the US…and some of our fellow riders were actually stuck in the past, there was no shortage of v-brakes, canitlevers, hydraulic rim brakes, and 63mm suspension forks…one guy even had a kickstand on, never know when it might come in handy I suppose. But run what you brung, these guys were out there mixing it up.