Last Saturday I rode La Chouffe Classic in the Belgian Ardennes. It turned out to be a great day with Kaiserwetter, a particularly beautiful route, tough climbing and beer.
La Chouffe Classic is a sportive that has been high on my to-do list for years, but it never came. The long distance counts 166 kilometers and 2740m+. A perfect warm-up for the gran fondoslater this year. Nice to know fact: this is the most visited event page on CycloWorld.
I have seen a lot of the Belgian Ardennes, but not Houffalize yet. Except for the Côte Saint-Roch, but that doesn't really cheer you up. The little town is located in the southern Ardennes. The first sight in the early morning sun is more than pleasant.
The start procedure of Golazo is called scan & ride and goes smoothly. When you register you will receive a QR code. Show this code and you will receive your start number. Just put it on and start riding. This system is not only fast, it is also very safe. You do not have to leave your bike behind to retrieve your number. Everyone knows that's when most bikes get stolen. Moreover, there is a guarded bicycle parking. The price is more than fair, € 19 for such a high-quality event is a bargain.
Today there is no one who wanted to or who could, so it is a solo adventure. The first hills run fine, the legs do feel good. In La Roche-en-Ardenne there are road works and we have to wait. No one gets excited for a moment. What a difference with the nervous behavior in gran fondos. The Col d'Haussire is unfortunately climbed from the easy side, although the last 1500 meters are always tough.
I meet Yda, follower of CycloWorld. Together we ride up much of the ride. I always find company. The Côte de Beffe is notorious as the last tough climb in the Velomediane, but today it runs a lot better. The Col de Rideux from the south side is a bitch and also the Roche-a-Frene remains a brutal climb. Then follows the fall flat climb to Grandmenil on pre-war road surface. What a drama! But well, everyone knows that this is part of cycling in the Ardennes.
Then the feed stations, they are a lot better. Those who have participated in these Belgian Golazo events before know that you come back with more food than you left with. There are plenty of sports drinks and water, excellent sanitary facilities, every supply has a bike mechanic and there are plenty of racks for bikes. Insanely good actually. This also applies to the signalmen at the intersections. Small downside are the blue route arrows that are sometimes less visible in the shade. Luckily I don't miss one.
Via Oneux the route goes towards Baraque de Fraiture, the second highest point of Belgium. It's been 120 kilometers now and the advantage is that the rest of the ride is mainly downhill. Fortunately, the legs are still doing well and I manage to find a group that has a decent pace.
In Achouffe is the unique highlight of this event. Because the sportive is sponsored by the local brewery La Chouffe, you can even get a beer at the last supply. Where do you find something like that? It shows the atmospheric nature of the event.
Two more hills follow. Directly after the feed station, La Longue Virée starts. Although not extremely difficult, this one lives up to its name, there's no end to it. From the top, Houffalize is still 4 kilometers away. For those who still feel like it, the Côte Saint-Roch lies ahead. A steep wall with sections up to 20%. But it's part of the job, so I have to do it. I struggle to the top and console myself with the thought that after that it is only a matter of rolling out. The view on the village is breathtaking.
The finish location is more than atmospheric. I receive a T-shirt, a pair of cycling socks and of course a bottle of La Chouffe beer. Even the taste you get to choose. The beer in the afternoon sun couldn't taste better.
La Chouffe Classic is a great sportive in the Ardennes with some serious climbing to do. You'll encounter slopes which belong to the most difficult category of Belgium, but also beautiful gradual climbs.
The report figures: