On a lazy Sunday morning we made our way to Eindhoven for the Pathfinder/Sputnik Cycles Gravel Ride. This our first adventure in the Netherlands wouldn’t let us down and after much needed coffee, removing the bike-packing bags we set of for a fast ‘n’ furious spin around the area.
After leaving the workshop where St. Joris Cycles and Sputnik bikes are created we headed out towards one of the many canals that are dotted around the area. What I wasn’t expecting was to cycle over the Gulbergen area which is a former garbage dump on the border of Nuenen and Geldrop-Mierlo. Originally this site was used for dumping waste and soil but in 1990, part of the area has been in use by Golfclub de Gulbergen. Furthermore, a mountain bike route has been laid through and over the terrain. This includes the ascent of what is called the roof of Brabant .The top of the dump is located 60 meters above sea level (40 meters above ground level) and offers a surprising view of the Eindhoven skyline, while in clear weather you can even see the stone mountains of the Kempen coal basin.
From there the route zig-zaged around the local area and through woods where it became rather technical single track. You can clearly see why some of the folks I happened to be cycling with are fantastic at cyclo-cross.
As the ride went towards Groote Heide the woods became thick and the sandy tracks between sections of forest single track were rather fun if a little deep at times. This is where I stopped too long to photograph and ended up loosing some of the folks I was riding with. But as with any adventure it is always great to explore and seeing as this was my first time cycling in the area I decided to step back and chill-out.
One thing that I love about cycling in Belgium and The Netherlands is the amount of cycle paths that are made up of gravel. It is easy to hit long sections where you can push hard and cover ground if you wish to do so. They are wide enough to past people without having issues and it is nice that you get a friendly hello as you smile and wave. One of these sections was close to the A2 highway and the mixture of roots, sand and bumps made for a hell of a lot of fun.
As I came closer to the end of the ride the route still had more to offer and after crossing over a major highway we were soon greeted by country lanes, reed-beds which looked like it passed some kind of swamp land and then close to twisting single track and sandy gravel paths. By this point several riders had passed me allowing me to photograph and then as I headed back into Eindhoven along the canal I bumped into yet another couple of riders.
The contrast between two rides back to back couldn’t have been more dissimilar in style even though they are almost next door to each other. I have to admit that I probably didn’t have a full bag of beans for the ride but boy did I enjoy it! It is hard to believe that 99.1km could offer so much fun, technical dexterity and interesting sights.
Later this year they host other rides in and around the area so we aim to head back and test out more of what they have to offer……watch this space!