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.
After its winter break the Belgian cycle touring season kicked off again on the first weekend of March. Unlike the UK where I have done most of my cycling the clubs here don’t ride through the winter.
So this means that the March rides are a bit if a “get to know you” and find out who spent the winter doing the kilometres and who were doing the kilogrammes. And it brings a little trepidation, a slight return of cyclingclubaphobia until I have checked that that I can fit in to the club.
I missed the first two weeks in Taipei so this was my first ride of the year with my ambition to drop into group 2 and hide quietly in the slipstream. With the hazy sunshine I was optimistic that there might be a good few riders out so I could chose my level. And wow – 75 starters resplendent in the new club kit.
There were about 35 in group 2 and my hopes worked out quite well, because in a stiff breeze the enthusiasts that had been riding regularly were happy to take the lead, and the big lads provided what might less politely be called a solid wall of Belgian beef that provided excellent shelter!.
Wonderful spring day, I could have stopped and taken hundreds of views of blossom and open fields as we skimmed the open countryside. In Nivelles the splendid Church of St Gertrude was ringing out its bells with great energy as if to welcome us, or just to celebrate the day.
Good to have the first club ride under my wheels.
Sunday was almost “one of those days”.
I promised myself 2-3 hours road bike cycle touring ride, not too heavy on the legs and taking advantage of a reasonable forecast.
First look out of the window took care of that – no way an I risking the icy minor roads round here on 25mm of rubber. So mountain bike it is.
Some fettling needed because of the hammering the bikes took over Christmas in the mud. Another 30 minutes lost.
And then that most infuriating of seconds. I look down at the wheel, and I flick at a piece of debris. Which resists for a second and then hisses at me vigorously – a horrible thorn. Good news it didn’t happen ten minutes into the ride, bad news I am loosing the will to ride fast.
But then I am restored. Unwilling as I am to exert any mental energy into the process I let the local route network take over and guide me round one of the many routes in the area. It is so nice to feel welcomed and valued.
It took me over to Ohain, which is one of the five settlements that make up our commune (municipality) but not one I have particularly featured in the blog as I tend to go in other directions. But it is one of the few villages in Belgium to have retained its traditional village tree lined green and this one is especially nice because it slopes down a hillside.
The white-washed cottages were almost painful to the eyes as the sun began to glare and the church sits attractively in a network of cobbled streets which livened me up and sent me happily away on the farm tracks and lanes that made up my route for the day.
Two hours later I am a much better human being. Ahhhh.