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06-05-2024 | Herman Nekkers

Chouffe Classic: climbing, cobblestones and stunning views

When you hear the name Chouffe Classic, images of the Ardennes might come to mind. However, the Netherlands boasts a sportive by the same name, situated in Drenthe. The organizers revealed, "This year, we have crafted three new routes featuring the Col du VAM and the Roof of Drenthe. Come and see for yourself." On the second day of May, Yda, our editor-in-chief, and I set off to Hoogeveen for the official Chouffe Classic course reconnaissance.

Col du VAMPhoto: Photo shoot on the Col du VAM.

The sportive, scheduled for Saturday, June 1, offers three distances: 165, 115, and 65 kilometers. We opted for the longest to fully enjoy the sunny day forecasted at 25 degrees. Drenthe is uncharted territory for me as a cycling region. While I'm familiar with the VAM mountain and the Roof of Drenthe by name, I've never personally cycled there. Yda has, just once during a long weekend at Westerbork. We were eager for surprises that day. If you're up for a surprise too, keep reading; we've got a fantastic offer for you.

Solid climbing

Photo: Roof of Drenthe.

We set out from the official start/finish at Bentinckspark in Hoogeveen. It wasn't long before we left the urban landscape behind and ventured into the scenic countryside. Soon, the Roof of Drenthe emerged on the horizon. This "mountain," a 63-meter tall structure atop a landfill and inaugurated in March, stands 15 meters taller than the Col du VAM. Its stark and barren landscape could evoke a mini-Mont Ventoux for those with a bit of imagination. The 16% gradient tested our legs thoroughly. At the summit, the panoramic views were stunning. After a brief descent, we tackled the climb to the Col du VAM.

Roof of DrenthePhoto: Breathtaking view from the Roof of Drenthe.

Serious cobblestone lanes

Chouffe Classic cobblestonesPhoto: Bouncing over the cobblestones.

Leaving the mountains behind, we continued through the tranquil vast landscape. Soon, a challenging cobblestone path surprised us. Comparable to Ronde van Vlaanderen's, it stretched over two kilometers. We bounced along the cobblestones, and Yda suggested that a gravel bike with 32 mm tires might be ideal. The adventure didn't stop; shortly thereafter, we encountered the lengthy cobblestone road of Schaapstreek. Drenthe is unrivaled in the Netherlands for its extensive and lengthy cobblestone roads, making it a highlight of this sportive.

Photo: Kilometer-long cobblestone lanes.

Reaching Odoorn, a third into our journey, we stopped for a coffee and ice cream sundae. With the wind now at our backs, we enjoyed the expansive views. The vast openness was striking; you could gaze for miles without a single building in sight. Our route took us through forests, farmlands, and heaths, past small fens, thatched-roof farms, and quaint villages like Erm, Oosterhesselen, or Drijber. The middle of nowhere is truly in Drenthe .

One traffic light

A little over a hundred kilometers in, it was time to ascend again. We approached the Col du VAM and the Dak van Drenthe from a different angle before venturing into the peaceful western loop of the route. I hadn't realized such tranquility still existed in the Netherlands. The charming village of Ruinen provided a perfect spot for another break, where we savored pancakes on a sunny terrace.

Photo: Effortlessly look for miles without seeing any buildings.

We resumed riding, navigating farm roads that alternated between paved and cobblestoned surfaces. The sparse traffic was mostly theoretical. Facing a mild headwind, we pushed on toward Hoogeveen. After more than 165 kilometers, our journey concluded. The entire route featured just one traffic light, its location now a distant memory.

Afterparty

Post-ride, a lively afterparty awaited us in the park, complete with a cold Chouffe beer. Drenthe's cycling scene is remarkable, and the Chouffe Classic provides an excellent chance to explore it.

Discount promotion CycloWorld

In celebration of our course reconnaissance, we're offering a limited number of start tickets at a 25% discount. Hurry to our CycloWorld SHOP availability is limited!

Info Chouffe Classic

  • Date: Saturday, June 1
  • Distances: 165 km, 115 km, 65 km
  • Highlights: climbs, cobblestones, car-free roads, vast open spaces
  • Signage + gpx
  • Three aid stations (longest distance)
  • Supervised bicycle parking at start/finish
  • Photo service
  • Technical assistance and emergency number
  • Finish party with music, secure bicycle parking, socializing, and a cold Chouffe beer
  • Ample parking space
  • Discounted start tickets available at the CycloWorld SHOP
  • Sold out? Register via the official website

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