When you get a call about a rather unique night time gravel ride we couldn’t pack the car and drive over to Belgium quick enough. The Night Patrol Gravel Ride was the brain child of Philippe Michiels and it is thanks to him we had an absolute blast.
The ride started at Manuvel which is a rather lovely coffee shop in Sint- Niklaas. Situated between Gent and Antwerp, the Belgian city and municipality is located in the Flemish province of East Flanders. Setting of at what I would call a rather fast pace it turned out that 34km an hour is just the warm up for Belgium cyclists.
Soon we had darted through a little urban cyclo-cross section and into the open fields. The route takes you through various formats from tarmac (which was very welcome) to single track, gravel paths and forest roads. I would say that this is more of a 90km cyclo-cross ride than a full on gravel ride but that doesn’t detract from how amazing it was. It is such a exceptional event and I don’t know of any others except Yorkshire True Grit’s night ride.
As the sun began to set it was time for shits and giggles baby! Crushing it with the usual misfits I like to meet up with in Belgium, we were all having a blast even if half the time we could hardly see where we were going. This made the ride even more special as the sense of camaraderie, helping each other along and making sure no one was lost brought out what I love about some of these smaller rides.
Pushing on through various woodland sections the route became more and more muddier and this became of slip ‘n’ slide just like the weekend before in Bristol.
With the recent changes to the weather I was rather happy to have mud tyres on which did the trick most of the time. That being said I still managed to come off within the last 15km and I wasn’t the only one. Whether or not it was due to the lack of sleep or the Belgium beer at the stop, I guess we’ll never know?
As we rolled back into Sint-Niklaas covered in mud the vibe couldn’t have been better. We all had an absolute blast and even the one guy who had three punchers said how great it had been.
If you are thinking of going to next years Night Patrol Gravel Ride then head over to their Facebook page.