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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Ethias ‘Hell of Flanders’ gravel ride

Brand new on our program for 2021: the Ethias ‘Hell of Flanders’ Gravel Ride. On Saturday, August 21, unleash the devil in you: on gravel roads, farm tracks, forest paths and the iconic cobblestone sections of the Flemish Ardennes. Choose between two exciting rides of 91 or 58 kilometers.

De Rampe: is there a better starting ramp for a gravel ride through the ‘Hell of Flanders’? We didn’t think so! After this cobbled climb that’s not so widely known, you are greeted by its two iconic brothers: the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg. A tough start to your mini odyssey through Hell, because once you reach the top of the Paterberg you will only have 10 kilometers in your legs! And shortly thereafter you turn onto the Koppenberg!

But of course, the Hell of Flanders Gravel Ride is much more than just famous cobbled climbs. The long off-road sections in between these climbs are also sure to slowly but surely squeeze the energy out of your legs. But don’t fret…you’ll get some reprieve in the form of impressive panoramas and picturesque villages typical of the Flemish Ardennes. Such prime examples are Zulzeke, Etikhove, Mater, and Sint-Kornelis-Horebeke.

Participants opting for the 58-kilometer route will miss some spectacular riding to include the Eikenberg, cobbled sections of Mater and Haaghoek, as well as the long gravel and farm roads in between. But once through the Muziekbos section, you reach the finale, where both ride distances come together again. Be sure to monitor your energy levels carefully, though, because on the long ridge of the Kruisberg and Hotondberg, purgatory can definitively be traded in for the deepest pits of hell. All those altitude meters do not come without a high price to pay!

At this point, you may already be dreaming about the ‘après’. BUT be forewarned…after a quick visit to Hainaut, you can expect your calves to burn one last time on the paths of the Kluisbos. Before you cross the finish line in the Mountain Bike of Flanders village, you’ll have the chance to say a quick prayer at the chapel of the brigand Jan De Lichte. There you can thank the heavens that you survived your journey through Hell!

NOTE: every participant must have a GPS device. We distribute the GPX tracks in the week before the event. There are no physical road markings on the Ethias ‘Hell of Flanders’ Gravel Ride! While there is a mass group start, there is no time registration. Everyone rides at their own pace.

Location: Flemish Ardennes
Date: Saturday, August 21, 2021
Start: 9:30
Distances: 58 or 91 k