True Flanders but just a little different
Put a dot in the middle of Belgian Limburg and you have a perfect point to start exploring a landscape with its own character in whatever wind direction you ride. And before you know it, you'll be riding into the province of Liège or Namur.
The starting point of this Places to Ride is Sint-Truiden, the capital of the fruit region Haspengouw. Sint-Truiden is just 40 kilometers away from the city of Leuven where the European Gravel Championships were held just a few days before this 4-day trip.
If you're crossing the rolling landscape it will nowhere be the same. Between fields with a piece of forest here and there you ride from one village to another. Almost every village has its own unique look and feel with beautiful old churches and chapels.
Something you can hardly miss are the characteristic fruit orchards. Many miles you can drive between the fruit trees. Especially during the blossom season in the month of April, this is a unique experience.
Asphalt, cobblestones and gravel
As already mentioned, in terms of surface you can certainly have your fun. And especially if you adapt the material (wheels and tires) of your bike to the terrain you can make your miles without having to turn around.
The paved roads with asphalt and characteristic concrete slab roads take you to the terrain where it really gets fun. Between the fruit trees you will find mostly gravel roads. These are quite rideable without too many large boulders. Ideal if you choose tires with an all-round profile. And when the legs start to ache a little it's time for the real thing: the Belgian cobblestones!
4 days of touring
Four days, four rides, four times maximum fun. That's what you get when choose a short trip to Belgian Limburg.
From the central location in Sint-Truiden you are just in the middel of some beautiful and different areas, so it's reccomended to choose a different direction each day. This allowes to take in the most beautiful memories and pictures in 4 days while riding your bike.
Day 1: The warm-up
Day 1 was all about a little warming-up for the legs. Exploring the area around Sint-Truiden was the goal and by passing the towns of Zoutleeuw, Linter and Landen we soaked up the atmosphere to determine the routes for the following days.
Day 2: In search of the European Championship gravel course
The first real ride headed west and ended up near Hoegaarden and Bierbeek just below Leuven. The area where the European Gravel Championship took place a few days before. The first idea was to look up part of the course but during the ride this plan was changed.
After a pleasant surprise with beautiful cobblestone lanes and fantastic gravel roads the DRIFT wheels with 35mm tires proved their sublime charateristics.
One of the great features of Flanders is the great variety of terrain. And if you choose your wheels and tires for all-round use, you will never get bored.
Day 3: Tapping Liège briefly
If you are so close to Liège and you know how to tickle the legs over there then a short flash visit to the Walloon capital is something you don't wanna miss. So the third ride went east and despite a punishing wind, the area around Liege was reached after just under 40 kilometers.
After some tough climbs without major designations, the ride continued down through Amay in the direction of Huy. For a moment "the Mur" was considered but because of time Jasper and Malou decided to skip it. In the end this turned out to be no bad choice because there were still a number of climbs on the way that had not been ridden before and were certainly to his liking.
Day 4: The Citadel of Namur
The final stage was one towards the historic city of Namur. Okay, this is also (just) outside of Belgian Limburg, but climbing the Citadel of Namur is something you can't get enough of.
The strong wind from the day before turned into the other direction so the legs were tested again in the nearly 60 kilometers to Namur. This also had a big advantage on the way back, they literally blew back to Sint-Truiden.