The Legend of the Ardennes Monster
From a 4-wheels bikes to ultra experiences
Hi ! My name is Olivier, I am a passionate cyclist since 2003, from Namur.
In my opinion, cycling is the most beautiful sport. It inspires respect, pushes you to your limits, and reconnects you with Mother Nature. You can practice it alone, or with your mates. The scope of possibilities is so wide.
Giving my first pedal pushes more than 20 years ago, I quickly realized my affinities mainly concerned hard, hilly, and adventurous rides. Staying on the beaten track is boring, isn't it ? I have always loved big rides with important elevation gain, steep slopes, because they are more impressive, more tiring, and more pleasant for my eyes of course. Very quickly, I was overcome by a mad desire to discover unknown areas, literally, and figuratively.
Ces dernières années j’ai pu découvrir une discipline qui pouvait répondre à ces envies de liberté avec un brin de folie : les randos ultra-distance. En 2017, je découvre le Raid des 7 Majeurs de Patrick Gilles, un parcours grandiose dans les Alpes avec 7 sommets qui tutoient les cieux. En 2018, je participe au BikingMan Corsica, une boucle de 700 km et 13 000 D+ sur l’île de beauté.
My love for ultra distance and my affection for crazy challenges lead me to create the Conquest of the Ardennes, at the beginning of 2021. A hike of 460k and 9000 meters of elevation gain. Throughout the 2021 season, you brought the Conquest of the Ardennes to life with your hearts, your legs, your lungs.
In the summer 2021, I am competing again in an event of the Axel Carion's circuit, the BikingMan X : a crazy adventure of 1000 km and 26,000 EG. A delight, a revelation, an incredible chance. Memories and desires increased tenfold. It's the kind of journey that changes you, teaches you, grows you.
Shortly after returning to Belgium, the desire comes to me, the need to realize a crazy idea that has haunted me for several months, several years: to create a great, emblematic, unprecedented event in Belgium, the homeland of Cycling. The sport discipline of ultra-cycling being in full evolution, I could not leave Belgium without an event worthy of the name. The playing field was too fertile, too wide, too fun, not to have an authentic, real, palpable, and of course, epic.
Discovery of the Ardennes Monster
During one of my occasional rides last summer in the Ardennes, the destiny and my thoughts meet each other. Weakened by a 160km hilly route undertaken after a break of more than a month without any sport, I am seized with a f**** craving. Worst moment and worst circumstances to experience what I am going to experience… and especially to hear. Not far from Givet, I am stuck and “parked” in the middle of the hill in the heart of the forest. I have nothing left to eat or drink. Twilight begins to invade the place and the breeze is heard, piercing the trunks and thorns of the conifers.
Suddenly, the oddity of the moment is brutally struck. Cries. Horrible. This horror gave me chills. I have to get out of this cursed place.
I finally manage to climb over the ascension and reach the next village before nightfall, and get back to my car. Afraid of what just happened, my thoughts still bruised, I feel in need to tell the grocer where I will get my supplies. As I explain what I heard, he stops me sharply:
“Malheureux, qu’avez-vous été faire dans la forêt à cette heure tardive ! Le Monstre y rôde à la recherche des hommes. N’y allez plus, partez !”.
“Mais que diable, que se passe-t-il ici ?!”, poursuivis-je.
“Le Monstre des Ardennes… vous n’en avez jamais entendu parler ? Il rôde… il hante nos forêts, nos villages, nos familles. Il y a plusieurs siècles, l’un des nôtres s’était aventuré dans la forêt qui borde le village, à la recherche de gibier pour nourrir les siens. C’était un soir d’hiver, alors que la noirceur de la nuit envahissait les lieux, nous entendîmes des cris abominables retentir au loin… notre valeureux compagnon n’est jamais revenu. Nos ancêtres n’ont retrouvé que des os à l’orée du bois. Plus jamais, plus jamais nous n’y sommes retournés ! N’y allez plus !”, me rétorque-t-il.
On full moon nights, rumors say that the shadow of this monster can be seen, defending its territory, on the edge of the woods. Thats is how was born ... the Legend of the Huglier, half man, half boar. The Legend of the Ardennes Monster.
The birth of the Ardennes Monster route.
After learning about this frightening legend, I decide to pursue the idea of a crazy adventure through the Belgian Ardennes. From targeted reconnaissance to reckless rides, I identify places where the Monster could be found, where we could hunt him in turn, defeat him. This is how the course of the Monster of the Ardennes has been imagined, and was made concrete. Over the 1000 km, and the countless hills and forests, we will have the opportunity to pay tribute to the peasant of yesteryear, forever gone.
But will we have the courage to go into the Monster's Den ?