The second 50km was definitely tougher, taking in the majority of the climbing and some muddy, rooty singletrack that was slower to ride. Even taking it easier I was struggling towards the end. After wading through a river, walking several steep rocky climbs and scooting down loose dusty descents with my bum on my tyre I finally saw the 10km to go sign. Internally cheering (definitely no energy for actual whooping) I figured that we’d now just bash down the valley and be done. Not quite. Several more climbs later I came down the last descent having taken 6 hours 50 or so to ride the 100km. I can’t remember the last time I was so relieved to see a cold can of coke.
Interestingly, I pretty much finished in exactly the same position as the previous days despite having had a day as randonneur. Perhaps there is a lesson for us all there…
Thanks to the BeMC organisers for a really tough but very rewarding race. The Ardennes certainly lives up to its cycling reputation.
After some fantastically fun riding around the old world cup course at Houffalize, we struck back out towards La Roche en Ardenne and the finish line. The sting in the tail proved to be just that, with the last 40km or so providing some properly steep climbing and some seriously nadgery (technical term) descending! Add to that the fact that the group I was with decided that 2950m of climbing wasn’t quite enough, as they headed up a different forest road to the one the organisers had in mind to bag an extra peak and take us over 3000m… bonus climbing, yay! The toughness of the day was most easily measured by the length of the bike wash queue; when I got there as about 100th person across the line, there wasn’t a soul in it, they were all lying exhausted in the sunshine!
A properly tough event, and proof if ever you needed it that it’s not all about the altitude. Just remember to smile!