Record number of visitors for cycling – walking and outdoor events in Ghent
The combination of the ‘Fiets en Wandelbeurs’, E-bike Challenge and Mount Expo in Ghent drew a record number of 16,605 visitors. For a full two days, Flanders Expo was the focus for cycling-, walking- and outdoor loving Flanders.
Right from the opening on Saturday, the walkways were so filled up with visitors, they practically formed a human bridge you could have walked over. The destinations participating in the Fiets en Wandelbeurs were attracting plenty of interest. The ‘Cycling Routes in France’ stand drew heavy footfall and soon got through its supply of brochures. While exhibitors from Austria, Spain and other countries had a busy time with visitors too, responding to all manner of questions whizzing round their ears.
The walking Info Market hosted by ‘Grote Route Paden’ on major walking trails, as well as the cycling Info Market of the cycling holiday specialist the ‘Vakantiefietser’ proved highly popular with visitors. Dozens of enthusiastic volunteers from these organisations provided advice about destinations, routes, clothing and equipment. The chairs at the info-tables were almost continuously occupied. The pictorial and video reportages, including the presentations of Tom Langmans (walking in the UK), Trien Pauwels (bike-packing from Ghent to Taiwan), Janneke Klop (mountain trails in the Carpathians in Romania) and Kristien Hansebout (cycling on the flat in Wallonia), attracted a great number of interested visitors.
Thirty brands presented their latest models at the E-bike Challenge. Every opportunity was provided to try these out in test rides on the large tracks, and enthusiastic use was made of these. The speed pedelec riders had their own track where they could reach top speeds of 45 km/ph. It was busy on the mountain bike track too: young and old tested their skills on the obstacles and the bike bridge. Cycling icon Eddy Planckaert was the special guest of the Challenge on the Saturday: scores of visitors grasped the opportunity to have a selfie made with their cycling hero.
Mount Expo, the event of the KBF – Belgian climbing and mountain sports federation, had one of its best ever editions. The Workshop Square was filled to the gunnels with interested visitors and the stands of outdoor equipment suppliers and brands attracted plenty of footfall and interest in their wares. Waterproof bags, clothing, climbing boots, sleeping bags, and tent pegs; were among a wide range of outdoor items, often available at a particularly favourable price.
The three events had a combined programme for children under the Hicle Family umbrella. There was a remarkable amount of young families on the move around Flanders Expo to try out all kinds of activities like face painting for children, children’s play area, children’s bike track, and children’s climbing wall. For those children tired out from playing, cycling and climbing, there were plenty of terraces to catch their breath on.