Botrange + alleycat = Botreycat! The third and this year’s last bike adventure race by Bikepacking.be. It is something like an alleycat race starting at the highest point in Belgium, Signal de Botrange (694m) in Waimes.
The concept is, again, pretty straight forward. There are six checkpoints in total (see below), spread around the Signal de Botrange. Visit two of them in a random order before heading back to the Signal. That means climbing to the top three times in total.
The route is free, onroad or offroad, and you can join with any bike. There was a great mix of roadies, mountain bikers, cyclocrossers and the organiser himself on a single speed.
After the start at sunrise (8h42) we head north.
Our first checkpoint: the Vesderstuwdam in Eupen. At arrival you have to send a text message to the organiser, who happens to stand in the middle over here. 😉
… And take a selfie to prove you were really there.
From Eupen we ride straight through the Hoge Venen (Hautes Fagnes) towards Monschau. The rising sun in our face, we climb beautiful deserted roads.
Deserted … except fellow participants riding the loop in the other direction of course!
De Hoge Venen are beautiful, even during the winter.
Yes! This is unmistakably Monschau, just across the border in Germany.
Checkpoint 2: the Christmas fair on Monschau’s central square. The booths with Glühwein are just opening their windows. Tasteful and warming but we pass …
… and ride back to Signal de Botrange.
A small stretch of the popular Vennbahn (RAVel) cycle path.
And back at Signal de Botrange! Stuffing ourselves with krentenbollen and filling up our bottles before taking on the second loop.
Third checkpoint: the casino in Spa. Quick stop for a text and on the bike again.
The road to Coo with a couple of hairpins …
… means more climbing ahead!
The views over the villages are pretty nice.
Hey! Isn’t that Gunther Desmedt? It is, riding the same loop, only in the opposite direction.
Checkpoint 4: the Coo waterfalls. Close to Plopsaland amusement park, this is a busy place in summer, now deserted except for one photographer.
After a steep climb. Lesson learned (again): Strava is great for planning routes, but the popular routes aren’t necessarily the easiest ones!
But this road and view were definitely worth it. (Lesson unlearned, again)
Very, very professional. 😉 Back at the start, right before our last and shortest loop.
Checkpoint 5: Reinhardstein castle at the end of a gravel track. (Photo by Johanna Josten. Thanks!)
Right before we jumped on our bikes for our third loop, the first finisher was already in! So, no champagne for us.
Our sixth and last checkpoint: the dam of Bütgenbach lake. It was getting dark now. Better head back soon.
Finished! Exhausted, happy and very hungry.
Many thanks to Gunther Desmedt (bikepacking.be) for another great adventure race. Until the next event.
Thinking about joining the next one? Why not?
Six checkpoint, to be visited in random order:
Our route: northeast (1. Eupen & 2. Monschau), southwest (3. Spa & 4. Coo) and south (5. Reinhardstein & 6. Bütgenbach).