Belgium – gravel heaven?
Belgians love cycling, whatever ‘flavour’ it comes in. Belgium is synonymous with CX, and riding off road with curly bars seems to be part of the national DNA. Factor this in with the countless miles of gravel tracks and quiet country roads, and it is no surprise that the Belgian cycling community were early adopters of the gravel scene. The country hosts more than its fair share of gravel events and is quickly becoming the “go to’ place for European gravel riding.
The latest event to be announced is Smugglers Path, a 150km gravel ride that crosses the border between Belgium and the Netherlands. No sooner had the event been announced, than gravel hungry riders had snapped up entries and Smugglers Path sold out in record time.
ADVNTR will be there in May to cover the event. But for now, lets find out a little more about the Smugglers…
Who are the Smugglers?
Smugglers Path is the brainchild of Erwin Vaesen and five friends who love riding gravel. The Smugglers Path started off as a bit of fun but they soon decided to share their riding patch with, like minded, gravel fans.
We did some gravel events and thought to ourselves we can make one also, but on our terms! Smugglers Path will be a whole day of fun on the bike… Yes there will be some tarmac, yes there will be some cobbles and yes there will be some dusty sand roads but be sure, there will be a whole lot of pretty fine gravel !
Located close to the border with the Nethlerands in the town of Hamont Achel, Smugglers Path crosses prime Belgian countryside taking in a mix of farmland and forests – perfect for gravel adventures.
Whats in a name?
The event takes place a long way from the sea so what’s all this smuggling about?
Erwin explains “Smuggling was a big thing throughout history here, locals would smuggle goods back and forth over the border due to the fact import duties need to be payed [sic] on various products. The famous Bokkenrijders had their base camp here between 1740-1790, the legend says that they had a pact with the devil and rode on flying goats!”
While still getting our heads around the idea of flying goats, Erwin continued “Most Famous was Nolleke van Geleen. We followed historic accounts of his tracks and we found a lot of gravel! Later on the people kept on smuggling between the Dutch and Belgian border. Butter, beer, cows and much, much more.”
The black market was a big thing around our borders for many years, and if you search a bit you can still find it!
Opening on the evening of Friday 24th May, participants will be welcomed to the event HQ in Witteberg.
There will be plenty of good food and beers and our event partners will be present at the ‘Smugglers Market’, along with a campfire to make sure we have a good vibe and a relaxing evening.
On Saturday morning we open up from 7:30 with coffee for all our Smugglers!
We start riding the Smugglers Path 2019 at 9:00.
Smugglers Path offers two routes: +/- 80 Km and +/- 150 Km
There are 1 or 2 stops (depending on the distance you choose)so you can fill up bottles and grab a bite to eat in some really special places.
Finishers can relax with a cold beer and a real burger plus a goody bag. Again, the Smugglers wish to ensure that there’s a relaxing atmosphere at the end and a chance for everyone to share their memories of the day.
Smugglers Instagram challenge #ridelikeasmuggler
The Smugglers parted with news of their Instagram challenge. Even if you’re not attending Smugglers Path in 2019, you can still take part and be in with a chance of winning some booty (The Smugglers assure us none of the prizes were smuggled from over the border).
Hello smugglers, we have a little challenge for you!
Just follow our Instagram page: @Smugglerspath
When you post a photo use our #ridelikeasmuggler and tag @Smugglerspath in it.
Simple as that and you could win a JBL Clips 2 Soundbox. We have three of these awesome sound systems to give away to the best photos on Instagram.
Tip: Follow the Smugglers themselves (@mr_nwyfre , @voaske74 , @boseind911 and @willemvos86) they are the jury and very susceptible to bribery! (Once a smuggler, always a smuggler)
Winners will be picked on the following dates so keep your eyes peeled:
- 1st winner 15 November
- 2nd winner 15 January
- 3rd winner 15 March
Meanwhile keep riding your gravel bike !
Last modified: 23rd October 2018