We really didn’t know what to expect. An unfamiliar location, routes we hadn’t ridden before and a group of people we never met in real life. To say excitement levels were high for our first Van Nicholas Adventure Team weekend is one hell of an understatement.
Mixing it up
The format was simple. A weekend getaway for the members of our international adventure team, all experienced adventurers and Van Nicholas ambassadors, mixed with daily social rides open to the public.
For the team it was all about getting to know each other. Share their stories and exchange ideas on their experience with the bikes and what the future could bring. For the public it was a chance to get to know the people behind the brand and get some first hand experience with the bikes. All while getting to know a bunch of new, likeminded, people.
Trying to give everybody something to look forward too, we also mixed up road riding and gravel/adventure riding. A mix to guaranteed to get us both really tired AND really really dirty.
Day 1 - Road ride
Starting at Le Coffee Ride, our basecamp for the weekend, the first day’s ride took us via some of the lesser know roads from Stavelot to Vielsalm and Saint Vith, finishing things of with the Col de Mont le Soie and the Col do Wanne. (You can check our route here; http://www.lecoffeeride.cc/ride/la-belle-route/).
Fuelled up on breakfast bagels and a few delicious espressos and cappuccinos the team headed out as the roads were drying up and the sun breaking through.
The group quickly found its pace and it wasn’t long before the sport of cycling worked its magic and new friendships were born. In the midst of his preparation for an upcoming triathlon one of our guests took to opportunity of the hilly course to throw in some intervals and put the rest of the group to work, trying to keep up with his pace.
A quick halfway coffee stop, replacing sweat lost on the climbs with even more caffeine, and we were back on the bikes heading back to Le Coffee Ride for some well deserved beers and a delicious bbq.
Nothing but smiles on everyone’s face after the ride whilst plans were made for the gravel ride the next day, bikes were tested and badges of honour were handed out to the group.
Day 2 - Gravel ride
After a very wet night, in a region already plagued by some serious downpours in the previous week, we left Le Coffee Ride under threatening skies.
‘You’d better get to used to the thought of walking your bike once in a while’ we were told. Followed by all of us letting some pressure out of our tires.
Via some remote valles, gorges and waterfalls, passing some epic viewpoints over the valleys we climbed our collection of gravel bikes and mountainbikes to Peak Brewery, the highest brewery in Belgium. As it took quite a few hours of dodging rocks, fixing flats and walking up what felt like walls rather than hills, it was definitely beer o’clock by the time we arrived, so we happily said no to more coffee and went for the good stuff instead. Accompanied by some golden brews, pretzels, pancakes and lasagnas we sat through the worst of the day’s rain before getting back on our bikes.
The route was, overall, downhill as from our stop, but it sure didn’t feel like that. After some more river crossing, mud sliding and rock climbing we arrived, caked in mud but happy, back at our basecamp.
Though certainly no walk in the park, the route was really enjoyable and save from a few sections where it was safer to walk you bike, very doable on a gravel bike. (You can check it out here: https://www.lecoffeeride.cc/ride/belgian-groads/).
With so many good new memories made, friendships formed and laughs had, we know we have to do this again. Soon!
So keep your eyes peeled on our website and social channels as a new edition is in the making for Fall 2021.
See you all there!!