Mountain biking in the Flemish Ardennes

The Flemish Ardennes have amazing forests to plough through! | Photo by Kristien Berghs

Escaping the upcoming cold and rain in Finland it was time to visit the home country again for some Autumn mountain biking. One of my biker friends lives in the middle of the Flemish Ardennes region, where the famous Tour of Flanders takes place, an excellent spot to reside for a day or three.

On Friday we started off with a light ride, biking the red MTB-route around the city. Totaling 31 kilometers and 470 height meters in less than two hours of off-road biking was not too bad. Good overall conditions and climbs taking us up to the Hotondberg and into the Muziekbos. My Diesel engine was heating up pretty fast, I blame it on the rain jacket I was wearing, so no record times set here.

So you think we don't jump every now and then?

Second day we went for the real deal. 51 kilometers, 780 height meters and a little over 3 hours on the bike. We started from Ronse with a nice 100 height meter climb to descend 2 kilometers further on some really nice tracks, including some kind of duckboards, in the forest. A little later we entered Ellezelles and climbed most of the “Witches trail” another nice single track/walking path in the forest with a few peaks up to 20%. We continued through the open fields for aroud 5 kilometers and after crossing the N57 close to Flobecq started the longest climb on this track of around 150 height meters.

A nice rain shower topped off the experience – to make sure we did remember this IS Belgium – so we were glad to enter the Bois de la Louvière for some dirt riding improvisation. After playing around a bit we continued direction Brakel, climbing the Foreest Berg and arrived in Schorisse. Here we entered the Rotestraat and completed the second to last climb (100 height meters) of the day, obliging me for the first time today to switch to the baby-ring up front. Then in was back into the forest for some single tracks all the way up to the Muziekbos, a nice descent, and the last 5 kilometers on the road.

If you think you can keep that bike clean... think again.

A pretty nice track for Belgian standards and due to the wind and rain rather demanding. The GPX file is here – please note, that the guys who created it really took every “hole in the fence” to bike through so you really need some imagination every now and then.

On Sunday we’d planned another 75k ride but the rain decided otherwise so we focused on other local products….

An excellent Ellezelles beer.

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By Maarten Patteeuw

Maarten is an avid road and mountain biker who lives and breathes everything rolling on two wheels. You can follow his rantings on Twitter by looking for @maapathel.