What more could you ask for from a group of friends getting together on a Thursday national holiday and creating an awesome gravel ride that takes in cobbles, gravel tracks and farmers fields……probably nothing.
Although the 666 gravel is not a race, with a mass start you cannot help but be swept up in all the excitement as you roll out of the local football clubs grounds in Bierbeek. With the gpx route on our devices we set out at pace covering the first kilometers of tarmac before we soon came across the first cobbled section. Despite the rain in recent days, the gravel tracks and cobbled sections were bone dry and wonderfully dusty as cyclists pushed through the flat 99.9km course.
Having been lucky to have ridden cobbles in Flanders and Roubaix I have come to love them. Having a little extra weight and the power to push through them is a huge advantage I have come to learn when riding over cobbles. Add the 40mm Schwalbe tyres into the mix and they soaked up any lumps or bumps that came my way.
Throughout the ride we came across many riders all of whom had suffered punchers and snake bites as they weaved their way over the cobbles and farm tracks. The course definitely changed frequently as we cycled around the area. The 666 Gravel Ride was going to be a fast and furious day in the saddle and if it wasn’t for stopping to photograph I think we would have been finished in a very tasty time.
While we stopped it was great to fuel up on the waffles, wine gums and other unhealthy snacks we had with us. The chance to pee was a welcome relief as I have a bladder like a walnut in my old age.
Soon we were back off and tackling the gravel descents at such a pace I almost lost my camera on several occasions. For those that want a shortish gravel ride that is relatively flat then you couldn’t ask for a better ride. If you are not too keen on cobbles or have never experienced them then you might want to think twice but I would encourage you to try.
Throughout the 666 Gravel Ride we were welcomed with two feed stations. One of which was at an amazing windmill and allowed us to stock up on more waffles, wine gums and other snacks. The second stop stocked what I can only describe as the best fuel for a gravel ride going…….pancakes! Yes you heard me, they made fresh cooked pancakes with your choice of filling. Now for someone that has a sweet tooth I will admit that I might of had more than my fare share of them but when you are on an eight day bike-packing trip with various gravel events you feed up when you can.
Anyway back to the ride…….
Soon after that point we were back darting through farmers fields, country lanes and pushing towards the end of the ride. The weather was still looking rather cloudy and the last woodland section which was more of a mud-fest due to the recent rain I was rather happy to ride the final cobble section and race Tom to the finish line.
At the end of a fantastic day sitting round a fire and drinking a beer we all agreed that the 666 Gravel Ride was simply outstanding. The mixture of terrain made sure that it was never dull. Next year I will be there for sure as I have to say this is one of the best 99.9km gravel rides I have ever ridden.