Gardens of Aywiers – Capturing the colours (and tastes) of autumn

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This gallery contains 16 photos.

Among the most popular events where we live are the twice yearly open days at the former Abbey of Aywiers at Couture St Germain, just a couple of kilometres down the valley from Lasne. Today the former abbey buildings are … Continue reading

Arnhem to Aarschot cycle tour. Netherlands and Flanders – just because it’s flat doesn’t make it easy!

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This gallery contains 5 photos.

A few weeks ago I found myself in the Netherlands for the opening of the new Gazelle factory in Dieren.. As this event went into the evening it required an overnight in nearby Arnhem which in turn left me wondering … Continue reading

Celebrating cycling in Bruges

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This gallery contains 18 photos.

This post is a photo gallery of cyclists and cycling taken while I was wandering the streets on our recent visit to the lovely city of Bruges. My wife calls this sort of behaviour “stalking” and seems permanently worried that … Continue reading

When I am warned that my bag is falling off my bicycle I do not despair for the future of the human race

When you live in a foreign country one of the subjects that often comes up is “how to break the ice with the locals”, especially where language is a barrier.

I have found an unexpected source of conversation that lets me meet someone new almost every week.

My briefcase.

I use an Altura Urban 17 bike briefcase, a design that suit me because it is a big baggy number that can absorb laptop, papers, lunch, waterproofs and even a change of clothes.

To allow for its size it has one particularly distinctive feature – it is mounted on the pannier rack at 45 degrees to horizontal to give heel clearance. That is a really sensible adaption.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

I think it must be my second or third version of the bag and until I came here the angle hadn’t really crossed my mind. But it seems to have a really unsettling effect on passing Belgians, whether they be cyclists, pedestrians or even car drivers.

Hardly a day goes by in Brussels without someone approaching me with a look of real concern on their face and saying “your bag is coming unhooked”.  This includes behaviour like chasing me down the road even when I am thrashing along in my lycra and pedestrians rushing off the pavement waving.

Perhaps most unnerving of all for me is to be shadowed by cars and vans who hover just off my back wheel until they can pull up beside me, wide down the widow and gesticulate furiously until I recognise the magic words “sac” and “décroche” over the noise and realise I have found another good Samaritan, not a nutter.

Initially I was really surprised and slightly thrown because I don’t recall a single comment in the many years I rode with a similar bag in the UK and I really do not expect to be approached when riding. Perhaps us Brits don’t do that sort of thing, there are legends of two Englishmen castaway on a desert island who didn’t speak to each other for forty years because they hadn’t been introduced.

Now I have got used to it I am really rather charmed by the concern of the Belgians for my safety, and even the fact that they could look at a passing stranger in enough detail to notice the angle of my bag. It is a nice feeling that they care enough to make a real effort to look out for my welfare.

My alternative title for this post “Invisible cyclist? Get yourself a wonky bicycle bag.”

Long day. Tour de France viewing at Mur de Huy, and back!

Photo Kevin Mayne Photo Kevin Mayne Photo Kevin MayneThat’s a long hard day under our belts. or rather our wheels.

160 km for me and nearer 200km for Thomas and we got to see an amazing, eventful stage that ended in Huy

There will not be much blogging tonight. It has been a 2 beer ride, and I don’t say that very often with Belgian beer on offer.