The Belgie was a mixed surface ride put on by Curve Cycling in honor of the Melbourne Spring classics. Close to one hundred riders turned out at the Rapha Club house for what turned out to be a great ride. I still was unsure as to what the Belgie was. I knew that it was a mixed surface ride, but what was I in for? There were two groups to choose from. The Belgie (full gas) and the Dutchie (we will wait), and if you fall off the Belgie train, the Dutchie can pick you up. I opted on riding the Dutchie train which was being led by one of the world’s best enduro riders, Sarah Hammond.
There were over 40 riders in the Dutchie group and we set-off and headed through an urban maze of back streets. After weeks of rain we were finally treated to perfect riding conditions. I was rolling along with ease and foolishly wondered whether I would be getting much of a workout. We rolled along to a bike path which took us up to the Yarra Boulevard, near Walmer Street. The group went straight across the road, over the curb and onto this narrow scrappy steep walking trail that was clearly not suitable to ride on. WTF!
I was heading up the rear, and there was carnage in front of me as rider after rider struggled to get up this steep hill. I had to dodge and weave, jumping over roots, rocks and ruts, and dancing over the grass when I ran out of road. I could hear the clank as chains were jumping off and riders were running out of gears, and jumping off their bikes. Game on! The path ahead offered little in the way of traction, and a tree had fallen over near the top and pretty much everyone had to get off to walk over it. It was pretty full-on to the top, and we were just at the start of our ride. Ok so this is what the Belgie was about!
I was lost right from the start. We were darting and weaving in among an urban jungle and would suddenly come out onto this incredible walking track which were clearly not designed to ride a bike on. Every turn seemed to lead to a short-sharp hill that had the word ‘evil’ written all over it. Plenty of egos were shattered as pretty much everyone had to get off and walk their bike uphill at one point or another. If you didn’t like a challenge, then go back to Beach Road.
“the Belgie is a ride where you can expect the unexpected. Every turn offered a new challenge. A new experience”
We’d be riding up a residential street and suddenly turn onto a narrow lane way. You’d be asking “how the hell did you know that was there?”. These paths would be in all manner of disuse. Sometimes dirt, sometimes no path at all, but always mighty fun. I discovered to my delight that in a mixed terrain ride there were no rules. A bike could travel anywhere and everywhere.
There was an allure to this ride. The Belgie seemed an escape from the mundane of everyday riding and challenges you to go well and truly outside your comfort zone. There was no machoism. No pissing contest. We were simply out for a good time.
Nearing the halfway point, we found ourselves on the Main Yarra Trail, and crossed paths with the Belgie group. They were riding like a bat out of hell, and there was some serious firepower in the group and a whole lot of smiles! We picked up a handful of riders that were spat out from the Belgie group, however there was no time for chatting as the clock was against us. We had to be back by 11am, and with the additional firepower the pace stepped up quite a notch. Those that were struggling before on the Dutchie train, would have been digging deep into their happy place. Every time I looked over my shoulder, I would see the riders behind me really strung out, but hanging on. Booyeah!
We made it back to the Rapha Club house and it was a real shame that the ride had to end. Living in the outer south-eastern suburbs I miss out on a number of great group rides in and around the city. The Belgie was a great mixture of roads/bike tracks/walking tracks & hills. I went into this ride completely oblivious of the fun that I was about to have. The Belgie gave me a chance to discover a side of the city that I never knew existed.
A ride like this you’ve got to be willing to throw your bike through all manner of torture. If you’re interested in doing any of their rides in the future head to their website and sign up to Curve Cyclings newsletter for all the latest info:
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Just be prepared to walk……