Three countries ... One day.
Let the hills begin

July 13, 2011
Antwerp, Belgium – Diegem, Belgium (Brussels)
100.1 km
5:50 in the saddle

Amanda writes:

Woke up dry and slept very well. Andrew had a coffee at dinner last night and stayed up very late reading so I let him sleep while I packed up. I’m glad we camped a couple of weeks before we left so that we learned the tent was in need of some waterproofing. It did very well overnight. It rained so hard last night but we were dry – yahoo! We left the campsite and road back into Antwerp where we bought breakfast and lunch at a small grocery store as we knew we had a long day ahead of us.

It rained on and off all day but never super hard like last night. We were dressed appropriately and were comfortable. The LF2 on this day was hard to follow. Usually if we went with our instincts we knew when we were off the route. It did however add a lot of extra time and mileage. I look forward to downloading the GPX file from the GPS to see how much time we wasted. I do like the fact that the LF2 route takes you right through city centers which is where it can be hard to follow. It also takes you through the outlying suburban areas which are very pretty. It’s like going through the Beverly Hills of Hollywood; very pretty properties. And then you go through farm country. There really is no better way to see the world – I’m convinced again.

We stopped for lunch about 30k outside Brussels. We knew the LF2 took a very indirect route and maybe that is why we went against our better judgement and against our own rule – never ask a local. Locals live in the community and ride, but they only ride their routes. Long story short, what was supposed to be a shortcut ended up being longer and on city streets. I’ve become so accustomed to designated bike lanes and farm fields that I didn’t much enjoy it.

We got a hotel near Brussels airport in a very similar area to the airport Executive park in Richmond by the Vancouver airport. Deloitte, McDonalds and Bayer head offices. We took a local train to downtown Brussels after washing some essentials and hanging the tent to dry. Brussels is much like any North American city with cars in gridlock, poverty and homelessness. Downtown was a ghost town. Not my favorite place yet. You could certainly feel the recession here. We read in the paper that Cisco was laying off 10,000 people. They also have a head office near the hotel.

Over dinner we agreed to take a train tomorrow. With the rain and 100k, we acquired some saddle sores. For anyone who is unfamiliar with them you just need to know that they can ruin a trip if you’re not careful. It’s a lesson learned that we should have taken off the wet clothes after the ride yesterday. That combined with Andrew’s flu (he won’t admit it) it’s a good plan. We need to be in Dijon to see our friends by Sunday.

Today was a long hard day and the first sign of route tension, but still good. Thumbs up.

P.s. The town of Boom caused us grief.

Andrew writes:

We are being pursued by pigeons, I am certain. Every time we set up our campsite there is a “coo, coo” from a nearby tree. I first became aware of this bird when we were camping in Gouda. Again at Markdal, he was there in a copse of trees nearby. When I woke up this morning in Antwerp, I would Iike to say that it was to the sound of birds singing and the wind rustling in the trees – but all I could hear was the stalking pigeon, “coo, coo”.

Actually, it was quite pleasurable to awake to overcast skies and a tailwind. We struck camp quickly and then rode through the fietstunnel into Antwerp Centrum (downtown). I had spotted a grocery store last night while we were eating dinner. We bought some yoghurt and sandwiches for breakfast, croquet monsieur they are called here; back home it would be a grilled cheese & ham sandwich. We also bought some fruit and sandwiches to eat later in the day.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Diegem, BE
Three countries ... One day.
Let the hills begin