Bike Trip Report
3-daagse van de Voerstreek
September 2020 for us would be all about racing in Traka Girona. This is an annual 2 day gravel race, in which a few hundred people participate. We would participate in this event with a team from Maats and stay with our friends from Equipe in Girona. Unfortunately, Covid-19 determined otherwise. Spain became orange (forbidden to travel) and we were forced to cancel our participation, so DNS and DNF for Traka.
Because we were really looking forward to this event and had trained a bit for this, we were looking for an alternative. Like Traka, this had to be on gravel and we were looking for a challenge but a little closer to home. We organized our own 3-days stage race in the Belgian Voerstreek region (just across the border), rented a large house with a big garden, invited our friends, stocked up with food and beers, and off we went for a long weekend gravel adventure. Theme: good company, good fun, seriously good riding!
We were very lucky with the beautiful weather we had. It could just be that we had chosen the last summer weekend of the year.
Stage 1 was definitely more than just a warmup! No surprise when you invite Jeroen van Schelven of Le Coffee Ride. He lives in the region and knows this area like the back of his hand. Jeroen designed a beautiful gravel route of approximately 80 km with 800 meters of climbing, taking us from the Voeren plateau down to the Maas Valley, in the direction of Maastricht.
We were crossing the Maas on the border of NL and Bel and a few minutes later we faced a steep gravel climb towards Sint-Pietersberg.
Around Maastricht and Eben Emael, we encountered some challenging single tracks with steep and technical descents, before heading back along the river Maas to Belgium, before returning to the gravel hills of Voeren. Our first stage ended with an epic hill climb finale on the Ulvend slopes to Sint-Martens-Voeren (6% average). The finish line was carefully chosen at Het Bakhuis where we enjoyed well deserved ice creams and cold beers (paid for by our first stage winner, who had also taken the GC lead).
Check here the video of the final section of stage 1
Check here our Favorite Gravel Items
On day two our Queen Stage was on the program. The Limburg edition of Pathfinder Giro x had been on our list for a long time and now we finally had the chance to ride this incredible route everyone was talking about since a long time. From our riders’ home in Voeren, we could easily pick up the route at Sint Geertruid, just across the border. If you think you have seen cycling in Zuid-Limburg: just try this one! An amazing route, offering you the best off road and gravel sections of the area (110 km, 1.250 climbing meters). Twisting and turning through the Mergelland, and doing the renowned climbs like Kruisberg, Eyserbosweg, Keutenberg and Cauberg in the alternative way via steep off road tracks.
As it had been dry for some weeks, the terrain was dusty and rocky – glad we brought our tubeless set up. All of us? Well, one of our friends did not. Five flats were clearly the end of his GC ambitions. We refueled halfway at Fixed Gear Coffee for a nice coffee and a glimpse of the Tour de France time trial to La Planche de Belles Filles.
Even more steep gravel climbs were to come after the break, and due to the challenging parcours, the battle for the stage win and the GC positions unfolded in a rather dramatic way, with breakaways, chasse patates, more flats, grupetto’s and abandons. BBQ and drinks at night smoothened the teambuilding process.
We had planned a coffee stop at Fixed Gear Coffee in Valkenburg and could get a glimpse of the decisive time trial of the TdF 2020.
Stage 3 was designed by Maats C.R.O (Chief Route Officer) Ewout and inspired by his the Servatius bikepacking event that he co-organizes every year.
Due to some technical issues, several riders had to let go the GC and we were left with a small group within no time. Where we had done a lot of technical single tracks in the days before, this route consisted more of wider gravel sections. Especially the gravel climb to the Drielandenpunt in Vaals was very cool (segment: Rue d’Aix; 3 km uphill from Monesnet; average 4,5%). We did this climb multiple times on the road but had not done the gravel climb before. According to us, the gravel version is certainly the best of the two, and it was for sure decisive for our Best Climber classification.
After a delicious lunch on the Gulperberg, the top GC contenders made their winning strikes on the rolling hills back to De Plank and Veurs. After a last beer and packing our things we said goodbye and go to Amsterdam. And so our fantastic 3-days in this beautiful area came to an end. This region, which is known for its challenging routes on the road, is more than perfect for a gravel trip. Must-go for all gravel fans! If you ever have plans to go towards the region and need some advice or tips? Let us know!
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