It is a cycling challenge where the goal is to conquer 59 Strava segments within 72 hours. The segments group the most famous segments out of several one day races in Flanders. The most famous races are the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem. It’s a combination of iconic berg and cobble segments. The challenge is free and you can ride it whenever you want. The only rule is the time limit of 72 hours you have to respect.
I rode the Flandrien Challenge together with Stefan and Kristof. It made it a much better experience to do it with some friends. On the second day we had a few friend guest riders that joined us. It was very much welcome, and brought some extra fun and joy during the ride. So a big thank you to Tom, Mario and Peter.
When you are ready for the challenge you really have to take the time to plan everything properly. When you find a slot in your agenda it’s waiting to see if the weather conditions are good. Yes, flandriens ride in all kinds of weathers, but still, we think it’s nicer to ride our bikes when there is no rain. Next thing is to explore local websites to find out if there are no local activities. For our first day we learned that the Lotto Belgium Tour for ladies finished on the wall of Geraardsbergen. We decided to start earlier so we would have passed the top on time, before they close it for the race.
Our second day was without too much trouble, but the evening of the second day we learned that the next day there was the Monteberg rally where they closed the Monteberg and several other parts in the area. A phone call with the organisation revealed all roads were closed as of 7:30 am. As we already conquered 50 of 59 segments, there was no way back for us. We had to finish this challenge, so we decided to get up in the middle of the night and leave very early.
The organisation provides several gpx files which you can use to make sure you ride all segments in the right direction. They have an option to ride them in 3 rides, but recently they also have an option with 4 rides. It doesn’t mean you an do it in 4 days. The 72 hour time limit stays! You are also allowed to make your own variant of the route.
We decided to start with the longest ride and reduce the distance over the days. Mentally we preferred this approach and in the end we think it was the best choice.
The longest ride with 190 km and most of the cobblestone segments to conquer. Longer distance to ride to the wall of Geraardsbergen and back. The difficulty is towards the end. With 40 km to ride, you come back to Oudenaarde, but don’t think you are done yet. We still had to conquer around 800 altitude meters. The weather gods were at our side. While almost full Flanders got rain, we only got 4 to 5 drops of rain. When we arrived at our car and were putting away our gear, it started to rain.
The second day we started dry but after 30 minutes it started to rain a bit. It lasted for 2 hours and then we got better weather. Luckly it was not cold, so we survived that part without too much trouble. The first day was hard because the distance was longer, but there were moments where there was some flat kilometers in between segments. The second day was really riding from segment to segment, from climb to climb. Once again, the most difficult part was near the end. In the last 25 km we still had to conquer Koppenberg, Mariaborrestraat, Steenbeekdries, Taaienberg and Ladeuze.
The last day West Flanders was our biking region. Due to the Monte rally we had to adjust our track and start very early. I would really like to thank the organisation to help us to achieve our goal. First with good information at the phone and also in the morning, where they helped us to cross the track so we could leave the zone around the Kemmelberg and go conquer the other segments. We extended our ride with a few plug streets and a visit to the tombstone of Frank Vandenbroucke.
Wall of fame
There is both a virtual and physical wall of fame. Once you finish the challenge the organisation is automatically informed. Your name will be engraved in stone and the personalised stone will be ready at the Tour of Flanders Center. You have one month of time to go there and hang it up yourself. You can also buy an extra copy for 5 €. On Friday 23rd of July we rode with our bike to the Center and attached it ourselves. The moment where we closed this challenge officially.