Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Nice weather... for snails.

Today, our luck with the weather finally ran out. We set off nice and dry at 10:15 but within 15 minutes it had started to rain, and within half an hour, it was coming down hard. Alas, our home-made booties didn't pass their first real test, because our feet were wet almost immediately.

Then about 10 km into our ride, Sonia's rear brakes started rubbing, so we stopped and had a crash course on brake adjustment in the rain. It took us 10 minutes to figure it out, but we eventually got it sorted. Then a little farther on, her front brakes started rubbing too. However, seasoned brake mechanics that we now were, we where back in the saddle in just a few minutes. If this is the only mechanical trouble we encounter, we'll count ourselves lucky!

We were also lucky that it wasn't overly cold or windy, so we weren't actually unhappy... just a little moist. But with all the stopping our progress was slow, and by 12:30, we were barely half way to our goal of Tienen. We rolled into Sint-Truiden and decided to have lunch at a little cafe in the main square, where Sonia could also change her clothes so as not to get too chilled.

By then, the rain had slowed to a mere drizzle, but the wind had picked up a little. For today and tomorrow, we had decided to forego the LF6 and navigate by number, which makes a somewhat more direct route, if theoretically less scenic. To explain: In Belgium and Holland, there are two ways to navigate. You can take the well marked LF routes, or you can follow the numbers. The countries are dotted with numbered waypoints, and there are always signs directing you to the various local waypoints. To get from point A to point B, you just identify the various waypoints along the way and follow them. So today went something like 117 > 132 > 156 > 155 > 151... and so on. It's all incredibly well organized and civilized.

And in fact, if it hadn't been for the rain, today would have been one of the nicer days of cycling on this trip. The roads/paths were well-maintained and the scenery was lovely. I'm pretty sure that for a chunk of the day were were riding on an old Roman road, locally called Romainse kassei. Google translate says this means "Roman cashier," but my translator's instincts kicked in and, with a little digging, I found that "kassei" also means "cobble(stone)." Certainly, it seemed like a Roman road, cutting straight across the countryside. We eventually turned off it, but looking at the maps, I think we could have taken it all the way into Tienen.

Needless to say, I didn't take any pictures on the road today (Sonia got one of some snails "rushing" across the bike path as we played snail slalom). We rolled into Tienen about 3 p.m., checked into our hotel and made a beeline for the shower.

Nothing much to report about Tienen. Nice 13th-century church on a hill and apparently an oldish train station (thanks wikipedia). For us, it is memorable mostly as the next-to-last stop on our journey and the place where a bird is striving valiantly to sing the Spiderman theme outside the window (Eb-Eb-Cb-Ab ... E-Eb). Tomorrow we ride into Brussels for our final night of #cycletour2017.

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