Annie Bananie en Europe

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24 Heures Velo 2011

I always seem to neglect Louvain-la-Neuve in my blog. Well, there’s no excuse to ignore it this week as it was time for…24 Heures Velo!

As the name implies, it is literally a 24-hour bike race. With beer. Lots of beer. And people.

This year, the race happened on October 26th and 27th. Some sources say that this is the second largest beer event in Europe after Oktoberfest, which surprises me because it’s happening in a small place like Louvain-la-Neuve. In any case, I’m pretty sure it’s the largest beer event of the year in Belgium, and definitely THE festival of the year at Louvain-la-Neuve. Some 40000+ people are said to attend each year, many from cities all over Belgium. Beer and bikes – a good combo or not? You be the judge.

So how does this race thing work? I actually didn’t quite figure it out myself, but I know there are three types of races: normal bikes, “folkloric” bikes, and charity bikes. I think it works like a relay race where teams have racers that rotate amongst each other and go around the circuit x times in y amount of time. I can’t imagine one person biking non-stop for 24 hours – that would take endurance, heck of a lot of endurance.

Aside from the races that take place through circuits designed around the city (I still hesitate using the word “city” to describe Louvain-la-Neuve, but heck, it makes things easier here), there were a plethora of concerts and activities happening concurrently. As far as I know they lasted all night, and yes, there were beer stands. Lots of beer stands for your drinking pleasure.

Let’s see how it went down.

Some colleagues told me that a few people in our lab were racing in the normal circuit, so I decided to join the team…as a spectator, and part of the cheering squad! Here’s Remi in blue, heading off for his turn. It was my first time trying to shoot fast moving action with Mr.Nikon, and I really have to practise more and learn how to do it properly, especially in the dark! A tripod would probably help, but with 40000 people in a crowded place, I felt in danger even with Mr.Nikon around my neck that day, not to mention a tripod…

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