|We’re always on the lookout for new events to do and while we were racing at Gulbergen 24 in the Netherlands last year, we were handed a flyer for a new event – T24 in Torhout, Belgium.
Belgium … bikes …beer …Oh yes!!
And so we headed through the tunnel with the On-One Fattys, Cupcake & Fatso, on the last Friday in April for the short drive into Belgium for the event. It was a quicker drive than we do to Twentyfour12!
We arrived in Torhout and quickly located signing on. We were then directed to the campground which was in a small grass field in one of the local farms. The smell was well .. er ‘nose clearing’ but luckily the poor weather had meant the field hadn’t been used for the cows!! We pitched the tent and emptied the car as we had to park it elsewhere.
We had a quiet evening of socialising, drinking beer, fuelling and keeping warm. It was a cold, but dry night. The cold could potentially play havoc with our intention of riding through the night. A heavy frost formed in the early hours but at least it didn’t snow.
We had a race plan – ride for around 1 hour then exchange, and then through the night, ride for 2 hour stints.
It was a short, but interesting lap which consisted of some wooded single track, bumpy field edges, a disused railway line and a really fun section of ups & downs through the local park. The fat bikes weren’t the easiest (or quickest) to ride for most of the lap, but through the park, they came into their own. The momentum gained round the berms and through the drops could be carried through on the climbs back out. I was surprised at how nimble Cupcake felt underneath me.
And it was great freaking the locals out! There was a lot of open mouths, pointing and “big bomba” going on.
As the event progressed, our race strategy was biting us on the bum. It was hard work, really hard and riding as an unsupported pair didn’t help things. There was no respite. We were either riding or getting ready to ride (refuelling and checking the bike).
As the night closed in and the temperature dropped, we decided to change to single laps in an attempt to keep going. Eventually the cold got the better of us and we retired into the tent for a few hours’ sleep and to get warm. We started again shortly after dawn running single laps.
We rode our final lap together which gave us a chance to take a few photos.
The finish line was in the park and it was packed with people cheering the teams as they completed the race. We got hero status for riding the Fattys.
I was pooped and in need of a beer. We were rewarded with a great selection of Belgium beers in the bar. We settled for a La Chouffe – which tasted wonderful. We also got to enjoy the local beer Thouroutenaere at 8.5%!
The event organisers did a fabulous job and I really hope that it will run next year as it provided the opportunity to see how the winter training had gone. Everyone made us feel so welcome – the ice was definitely broken by our choice of race bike. That crazy English couple!! But I don’t think that they will accept our entry for next year if we didn’t return on the fat bikes.
I have to saw a huge thanks to the farmer who allowed us to camp in his farm, & who owned a lot of the land we raced on. He had broken his foot shortly before the event and was hobbling around on crutches, always with a smile on his face.