OK, my first post, apologies in advance for URL hieroglyphics, small pix, jpg encriptions and whatever else ???.....
Last month my wife was in a week long conference in Brussels, my mom was visiting from PA, and with a few phone calls to some hockey parents I was able to align my schedule with the cosmos to create a three day window to ride up to and around Brussels. Most of my riding up to this point has been in the Alps, Italy, France and Spain so I was happy to go somewhere new. After checking the maps, I decided that on my way up, I'd follow the Meuse river. It felt odd removing the stove, cookware and all camping gear from the bag liners as my plan was to stay with my wife at her hotel. I liked traveling light and will continue to pare down what I bring. I ecspecially liked the increased visibility in my mirrors with no trunk case or tents/sleeping bags. I left my house near Nyon, Switzerland and took a beautiful road 1km from my house that goes up and over the Jura mountains, entering France at La Cure. Continuing along N5 through Morez, Champagnole, Poligny, and on to D75 and then on to D67 where I made my first stop. Yes, from this picture you can tell I'm a map guy and not a GPS guy as my path was blocked by a river
At Montigny-le-Roi I took D74 north and eventually found the Meuse River near St. Thiebaut
view to the north
view to the south
yes, it was really that beautiful and I could've broke out the easel, paints, and canvas but I had about 10 more hours to ride so I settled for a few pix.
later on I came through a small town with this great statue of Joan of Arc
Here's a shot from inside a walled city... tight streets, and yes, trucks and buses use these same roads.
I rarely eat in restaurants when touring because the restuarant culture of Europe is WAY different and if you sit down to eat, you can expect to be there for an hour. With nice roads and new things to do, see, eat, and drink, it's hard for me to sit that long unless it's hailing. So, typically, this is the way I stop at mealtime.
I continued along the Meuse eventually passing through Verdun. Near Douzy I stopped for a map break as I was running out of daylight and would have to hook up with the autoroute before long. This is near the France/Belgium frontier (as they call it). It really reminded me of the terrain where I grew up, in Lancaster, PA. Rolling hills, farmland, and deciduous forest.
I hooked up with the autoroute and made my way through a cool city called Charleville. I would have liked to stop but I still had at least two hours to go so on I pushed.
My last stop before Brussels.
End of day one>840km.
The next day my wife had a team dinner so I was free until about 9:00 pm. I was really undecided about where to go. If I went east, I could go to Dunkirk and see where the largest(?) military evacuation ever took place during WWII. If I went north west, I could get to Holland and ride around some cool islands and peninsulas that jut into the north sea. Both directions had their advantages and I didn't know which way to go, yes, it was the Belgian Waffle. So, from the title of this post, you know that Holland won out. In 04 I met some hockey players from Holland on line and we made a team that played in a tourney in Vancouver. The next year the captain organized a tourney in Holland and I flew over with some teammates and we had a blast. So, I left the hotel with empty panniers and a tankbag. It was incredibly foggy and I got out of the city traffic, which is quite bad near the airport where the hotel is, and meandered through one small Belgian town after another, basically heading in a north east direction. The fog never really cleared until I got into Holland. My goal, like every other tourist, was to find some real windmills. My map had windmill icons so north of Antwerp I headed out A58 onto a peninsula. These pictures were taken near Wemeldinge
and then there were these ferocious antlered beasts guarding the grounds
I rode along the levee roads and then I came across the last thing anyone would expect to see in someones backyard in Holland
as I was leaving, I saw that there was a 7 foot tall ostrich in the next pen...... the next town had some nice neighborhoods on the water.
According to my map, there was a ferry at the end of the peninsula that would save me about two hours of riding. It turns out the ferry was for people and bicycles. I stopped for a break at the waters edge.