July 14th to 20th, 2018

$2600

Difficulty: Difficult

Scenic beauty awaits! - Ardennes Challenge Tour
Scenic beauty awaits! - Ardennes Challenge Tour

Highlights

Looking for a challenging ride with the best liquid rewards?

This tour takes place in the southeastern portion of Belgium, in French-speaking Wallonia. We’ll visit at least 7 breweries, two Trappist monasteries, and a WWII history site.

  • Wallonia is much more rural than Flanders. We’ll be staying primarily in smaller towns, with lots of peace and quiet to assure you are well-rested for the next day’s adventure.
  • This tour features road bikes! You’ll fly over those hills on our Giant brand bicycles. See FAQs for photos.
  • This tour covers around 350 km / 250 miles in 7 biking days, averaging 60 km / 37 miles a day in very hilly terrain. Flat stretches are rare here!
  • Trappist beer lovers, this tour is for you! We’ll visit Rochefort and Orval! The Trappist breweries themselves are open to the public. In addition to visiting the abbeys and their gardens, we’ll taste the beers and, for those who are interested, attend a church service with the monks.
  • 7-nights hotel, bike rental, breakfast, lunch, snacks, brewery tours, and beer samples are included. Vehicle support provided for groups of at least 8. Optional group dinners are organized each evening, with everyone paying for their own meals and drinks.
  • Make new friends and visit a different brewery every day as you explore the country at a speed allowing you to absorb your surroundings.

Breweries

From Saisons to Wits, Trappist styles, and Belgian IPAs, this tour has something for everyone’s beer palette.

Typical breweries we visit on most tour include:

  • Brasserie C – Liege’s new city brewery. Our private tour will be followed by a beer-tasting accompanied by tapas!
  • Brasserie Fantome – The small “ghost” brewery with a worldwide cult following. After a private tour, we’ll stick around for lunch at the brewery.
  • Interpol – The smallest brewery in Wallonia! We’ll get a tour from the owner Pol, a home-cooked dinner from his wife Tine, and spend the night at the brewey’s B&B.
  • Brasserie A’Chouffe – The largest brewery in Wallonia is just down the street from Inter-pol! Try their refreshing blond beer right from the source.
  • Brasserie de Bastogne – Maker of some of the most impressive beers in Belgium. We’ll get a tour and a “taste” of Belgian humor.
  • Brasserie Caracole – The most unique brewery of this tour, as they still brew using a wood fire! See if you can taste the smoke as you sample their delicious ales.
  • Trappist – We’ll visit the cafe of Orval and the Rochefort Monastery. Orval’s cafe is unique in that it is the only place in the world where you can try their “Orval Green!”
Some of the brewery visits can get pretty "hands on"
Some of the brewery visits can get pretty "hands on"
  • Stops at other breweries change based upon availability and time of year. Breweries we have visited on previous tours include:  La Rulles, L’Arogante, Brasserie Saint Monon, and Brasserie Les Trois Fourquets.
Fun times with friends in La Roche
Fun times with friends in La Roche

Total Mileage: 260 miles / 418 km

Itinerary / Stats

Locations and distances vary from tour to tour but are generally as follows:

  • Day 1 – Our tour meets today in the lively city of Liege, the 2nd largest city in Wallonia. It’s only an hour and half by train from Brussels, so there is plenty of time for the group to meet up for lunch. We’ll have our bikes delivered to the hotel and, after they are fitted, do a warm-up ride to nearby Brasserie C… and of course try Liege’s famous waffles.
  • Days 2 to 3 – Long hills and expansive views await us as we cycle south. We’ll spend one night in La-Roche-en-Ardenne and the next in Achouffe, including meeting up with a few of the locals for a “mystery event.” We sleep at the B&B of the famous Inter-pol  brewery, where we are sure you will appreciate the home-cooked Belgian meal.
  • Days 4 to 5 – The cycling continues south, taking further advantage  of the Ravel network, bike paths that were formerly rail lines. We will visit a few of the World War II memorials around Bastogne. This area is famous for the 1944 battle of Allied forces (led by US troops), who attempted to go from Normandy through the Ardennes to Germany. Further south, in Orval, we will attend a church service at the Trappist monastery, a very special event.
  • Days 6 to 7 – Onwards towards the towns of Rochefort, home of our favorite Trappist quad, and Dinant, birthplace of the saxophone.
  • Day 8 (morning only) – All tours officially end on day 7 in picturesque Dinant, but we would hate for you to leave without having explored the town by night, especially along the river, and have included the 7th-night hotel in your tour fees. So our tour actually ends in the morning on day 8. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading off to further adventures!

Markers show start/end + overnight hotel and B&B locations…

Photos from this tour

Tour FAQ's

What is included in the trip cost?

  • 7-nights hotel and B&B accommodation; typically 3 stars, and when possible, near/at the brewery we visit each day. All rooms include a private bathroom. One B&B is located at the Inter-pol brewery!
  • Daily breakfast and lunch, and lots of snacks each day.
  • All tours are led by either Evan or Henk, Beercycling’s veteran guides. A 2nd guide is available typically only for groups of eight or more.
  • Daily route planning, including daily itineraries and suggestions about where to eat / what to do in each town / maps / etc.
  • A multi-speed touring-compatible bicycle, helmet, and lock. (More about the bikes in the section below)
  • Vehicle support for groups of 8 or more. For smaller groups, you will receive two rear panniers to carry personal belongings, plus luggage storage to hold belongings you do not wish to carry on the bikes.
  • Entrance fees to all brewery visits, including lots of free beer tastings!
  • A welcome package that includes a T-shirt plus other goodies.
  • Email / phone contact with your guides prior to the trip. You get to ask as many questions as you like, talking directly to your tour guides.

What is not included?

  • Airfare to and from the trip.
  • Transportation to the trip meet-up location. (Although we do offer an airport pickup service)
  • Lodging before and after the trip.
  • Gratuities for Beercycling tour guides.
  • Personal items purchased during the trip.
  • Alcoholic Beverages. (Although lots of beer is included at each brewery)
  • Dinner is not included which allows you the opportunity to explore regional cuisine on your own, or with the group as you see fit. There will be options for both. Your guides are happy to give you recommendations.

Let's talk weather

Our #1 question… what is it “typically” like each summer?

Unfortunately, the weather and weather forecasts in Belgium are unpredictable. In the summer it can be pleasant, it can be wet, it can be very hot. In the Spring and Fall it can get very cold. So riders need to plan for any situation. The number one thing that will ensure you have a comfortable tour is a good rain jacket that you have tested is fully waterproof. We will be riding each day rain or shine.

Wind is normal in Belgium as it is close by the ocean. So even though the routes are flat we can occasionally get a strong headwind which will make the cycling more challenging.

Tell me more about the bikes

On our Ardennes tours we use newer road bikes (the brand varies). They have 27 gears, disk brakes, and drop bars. The bikes can be delivered with your choice of flat or clip-in pedal.

What about the bike paths / difficulty of riding?

The landscape is Ardennes is extremely hilly. Flat stretches are rare! Proper training for this tour is required.

We will be on smaller roads, some low-traffic highways, and, when possible, on the dedicated Ravel bike paths. Our guides have all the routes planned out ahead of time in order to ensure everyone’s safety, minimize riding in areas of high vehicle traffic, and to make the ride as pleasant as possible.

The daily riding mileage averages out to be 37 miles (60 km) per day; the longest day is 55 miles. Expect about 5 hours a day on the bikes (not including stops). Our cycling pace greatly depends on the condition of the group but in general we will be cycling at a leisurely pace. For tours with two guides we can always split into two groups if necessary during the tour. We will stop for taking photos and/or a break every 45-60 minutes.

I’m not a strong cyclist. What do I need to do to prepare for the ride?

This is a challenging tour but a realistic one to train for. If you are looking for a motivational tool to get into cycling, this trip could provide it! We recommend at least 2 months of cycling, with a focus on doing longer rides each time and including as many hill climbs as possible. It’s also a good idea to practice being on your bicycle multiple days in a row to build your “saddle strength.” Please keep in mind that we cannot control the elements. A possible windy, wet day will make for much harder riding, so please take that into account with your training plan.

If you are looking for a motivational tool to get into cycling, this trip could provide it!

What are the maximum / minimum number of riders on this trip?

In order to keep the trip organized and give every rider individual attention, most trips will be limited to 14-16 people (including guides). The minimum for most tours is 5. We will notify you when the minimum has been met for your tour.

What if we don't have enough people to include vehicle support?

We will email the group once we confirm departure, and then again when we have enough to confirm the support vehicle. If we are not able to provide a support vehicle you will have the option to join us on a self-supported tour, or a full refund. We try to make these decisions at least 2 months prior to the start of a tour.

How do I reserve my spot?

Simply follow the link below to our registration page. You’ll need to fill in all of your information, including your 500 USD deposit per person now. We will send you a link to pay the remaining balance, which we must receive no later than 6 weeks before the start of the tour.

What if I change my mind or change my travel plans. Can I get a refund?

We can issue a partial refund if necessary as follows:

  • 90 days or more before departure date = 100% refund minus bank / credit card feeds.
  • 60 to 89 days before departure date = You will incur a 50 USD cancellation fee plus bank / credit card feeds.
  • 45 to 59 days before departure date = Will will incur a 100 USD cancellation fee minus bank / credit card feeds.
  • Shorter than 45 days notice = We cannot issue a refund after this time due to lodging, bicycle, and tour reservations already being placed..

If I select a “shared room”, who will I be sharing with?

If you are traveling with another person, we will place you together in a room. (there are 2 people and 2 beds per room). If you are traveling by yourself (or with an odd number of people) then we will do our best to match you up with another rider on our tour of the same gender.

If you are in a room by yourself you will need to pay a single supplement fee.

We cannot currently offer a triple room discount as not all hotels offer triples.

What ages are allowed to attend?

21 and over.

What about drinking and driving? Isn’t it illegal to ride a bicycle intoxicated?

Yes, it is illegal to ride a bike intoxicated. And because Belgian beer can include a lot more alcohol then an average beer, the follow items are put in place for this tour:

  • When possible, our beer / brewery / biercafe visits will be at the end of the day.

  • There are several days where the brewery visit is mid-day. Riders will be expected to use moderation when drinking beers during the daily rides. There will be several occasions where we will stop for lunch and have a beer, however, this does not mean we will accept or tolerate over-drinking when additional riding is necessary.

  • On most occasions our riders tend to share beers with each other. This helps everyone a sample a larger variety of beers, limit their intake, and also save money. We encourage this method when possible.

  • All riders are required to sign a waiver at the beginning of the tour removing us from liability if over drinking cases any damage of any kind. This is non-negotiable.

  • Due to each rider’s size / weight / body type, we cannot easily put a hard limit on the amount of drinks one consumes before becoming intoxicated. Since we’re all adults everyone will need to make these decisions on their own. (Although our guides won’t hesitate to let you know if we think you’ve had too much)

Can I bring my own bike?

Yes, you are more than welcome to bring your own bike with the following conditions:

  • In must be in good enough condition to support you and your equipment for the length of the tour.

  • You also bring your own lock.

  • You bring your own spare tubes.

  • We have plenty of extra helmets if you need to borrow one.

  • Beercycling will not be liable for damages made to your personal bike on the trip, although we will help when possible with mechanical issues or questions.

What languages do they speak in Belgium?

There are three official languages spoken in Belgium! The northern half (Flanders) speaks Flemish, which is very similar to Dutch (the national language of The Netherlands which is directly north of Belgium). In Brussels and southern Belgium French is the most common (where this tour takes place). In the very far East of Belgium (near Luxembourg) German is more commonly spoken. English is also widely used and recognized throughout the country, but more so in the north than in the south.

Our brewery tours on the Ardennes Challenge tours will always be in English.

What are the average prices for beer / food / etc in Belgium?

  • Bottle of beer = 3 to 4 Euros at a cafe (rare and speciality beers will be more)

  • Dinner = Expect about 15 to 30 Euros for a good-sized quality meal.

  • Tipping is not obligatory as this is service is included in VAT (Value Added Tax) at all restaurants. That said, a small tip 5% or leaving behind extra change is appreciated.

What kind of food will be served?

  • Breakfasts are mostly  typical “continental style,” which will vary but usually include breads and bread rolls, jams, cereal, milk, juice, coffee, fruit, cheese, yogurt, meats, and pastries. Every hotel we use on our tours provides breakfast, so in the morning you can eat whenever you wish before our departure time.
  • Snacks – Along the ride the guides will carry snacks that can be shared by the entire group. These will include candy, energy bars, fruit, extra water, etc. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own snacks or buy them along the way as well.
  • Lunches – We will enjoy either a picnic lunch or stop at a bicycle-friendly cafe. For the picnic lunches we will have spreads of meat, cheeses, breads, fruit, chips, and other tasty foods. A vegetarian option will be offered each day. If you prefer to buy or carry your own lunch you are more than welcome to. If you have any special dietary restrictions please make a note of this on your registration form. We will do our best to accommodate your requests.
  • Dinner – You on your own for dinner each night. Some nights we will go as a group to a beer cafe / restaurant, but participation is optional. Typical Belgian cuisine is delicious and can include pasta, sandwiches, salads, steaks, seafood, soups, and our favorites: mussels and fries.

What do I need to pack for the tour?

We recommend packing light. (More room to take beer home!) For self supported tours, the bags on the bikes are fairly large and should accommodate all necessary clothing for a 9 day tour. If you run out of room in your bags we can either help you mount another bag on the top of your rear rack, or place some equipment on one of the guides bikes if available. Please keep in mind that you will have use of a storage facility at the bike shop on Day #1 you can use and reclaim your items once the tour is over. A typical packlist for this trip is as follows:

  • Lightweight shirts = 3 or 4

  • Underwear = 3 or 4 pairs

  • Socks = 3 or 4 pairs

  • Pants = 1 pair

  • Shorts = 1 pair (Padded cycling shorts are recommended if you haven’t spent much time on a bike seat)

  • Waterproof lightweight rain shell

  • Lightweight jacket

  • 1 pair of shoes for on the bike (cycling shoes or running/gym shoes is fine)

  • 1 pair of shoes for off the bike (hiking sandals or flip flops, or just skip this and use your on-bike shoes)

  • Sunglasses

  • Gloves (for cycling, should be lightweight)

  • Water bottles are included with bicycle rental (or you can bring a camelbak which can double for extra storage)

  • Camera + batteries + charger

  • Personal documents (passport, credit cards)

  • Hygiene products / Sunscreen / Chapstick

  • Bungee cord (to strap extra items to your bike rack)

  • A couple zip lock bags (helps on rainy days to extra waterproof your phone or other items)

  • We do not recommend carrying a laptop computer due to space constraints. Several hotels will have computers you can use, or if you have a smartphone you can connect it to WiFi in order to get internet access. Some past riders have brought small netbooks which squeeze in nicely with luggage.

What kind of ID / documentation / visas / vaccinations will I need?

Depending on the country you are traveling from, please consult your embassy for visa information prior to arrival. In general, one does not need a special visa to enter/exit Belgium. Please remember to bring a passport to show identification when necessary along the trip. Sometimes hotels will ask for copies of your passport when we check in.

No special vaccinations are necessary for travel to Belgium or the Netherlands.

Is Belgium / Europe safe to travel in?

There has been a lot of discussion about Belgium and Europe and terrorism on the news recently. As a result, there is heightened security at the airport and main train stations. Belgians remains resilient and optimistic for the future. Life goes on as normal, the beer flows, and they make bad jokes with their strange senses humor. The majority of our tours take place in very rural areas away from large crowds. It’s now a great time to visit as tourism is important to their economy. If you have any other specific questions about travel safety, please do not hesitate to ask us.

Do I need travel insurance?

It is not required, but it is recommended. This can be used for lost luggage, medical expenses, etc. Each person is on their own for this, we do not offer an insurance policy. Also check with your credit card company, sometimes they offer included travel insurance.

What if Beercycling needs to cancel the trip?

In the very unlikely event that we need to cancel a trip each person will be issued a 100% refund. We cannot, unfortunately, provide a refund for your other expenses like airfare. In all cases Beercycling has backup tour guides waiting should something happen to your primary guide.

Am I required to tip my guides?

Nope. But tipping is very much appreciated and helps ensure the ability of our guides to run more and more tours each year!

Any other questions?

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are happy to answer even the silliest of questions!

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1.805.794.0300

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Welcome aboard!

2018/07/14 10:00:00
July 14th to 20th, 2018
2018/07/14 10:00:00