With slow internet and long riding days, it seems difficult to keep up. I am writing on Saturday, Oct. 6, from Leuven. We are not riding today as Don now has my cold – and we must disassemble the bike. Later we will wander the city and enjoy the bright sunshine.
Thursday from Mons to Waterloo was probably the hardest biking day, mostly due to hill climbs. Our legs are/were tired and I was still recovering from my cold and Don was starting his. We did have occasion to observe 2 unusual, at least for us, canal systems: a barge elevator, and a barge incline. The incline has been around for 50 years to eliminate numerous lock systems to move barges up and down the Belgian hills. The elevator is newer and serves a similar purpose. We ate lunch beside the incline as it was lowering a barge.
A few miles further we had a blow-out. Not only was it a flat tube but the tire had a cut along the sidewall, a place impossible to boot (put in a temporary patch). We called Steve, the ride manager, and expected to spend maybe several hours waiting for the van to pick us up. In fact, several other teams passed soon and Paul and Jody were carrying a spare tire, so we changed tires and moved on.
Then the hills really began (Steve described it as our lumpiest day) and we found ourselves walking parts of several, arriving at our Waterloo hotel after 5 pm.
We ate a quiet dinner at a nearby restaurant, Don enjoyed bouillabaisse, my plate was delicious scallops, and then I spent a long time uploading our photos from Mons.
44.8 miles, 2600+ ft. ascent
Friday, we didn’t climb on our bike until after visiting the Wellington Museum in Waterloo. Very interesting to learn details out about the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. then we rode about 10 miles down the road to the site of the battle, again lots of information on the political situation prior to Napoleon’s ascent to power, and to the confederation of troops from Holland and England under the direction of Wellington, then the Prussian troops under Blucher who arrived at a decisive moment to ensure victory.
While the entire ride yesterday was less than 30 miles, those last 20 were difficult, gnarly cobblestones, steep uphills, tired legs – and Don feeling poorly. Once we arrived at our hotel in Leuven, he did rally after showers to join 4 other couples for a nice meal recommended on Yelp, then a bit of a walk on the Oude Markt and Grote Markt on our way back to the hotel.
29.34 miles, 1703 ft. ascent