Dolly's Bike Blog

Musings about fun between my legs

Mons: October 2 & 3

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Yesterday was not our very best day… it started with rain, not a torrential downpour but cold and constant for the first 20 miles of the route.  We just put our heads down and followed the cues.

We arrived at the Chateau de Beloeil in time for our noon tour.  Regretfully, the chateau was not all nice and warm as we would have liked, but it was interesting to hear about the de Ligne family, who still have a Prince and Princess (some of our group met and spoke with the Prince after our visit). At 1 pm we retired to the chateau’s dining hall for a nice warm meal, four courses, though soup might have been preferred.  At least the rain stopped and some of our clothes had dried out.

Our route to Mons was mostly along a canal….though we encountered bridge construction and had to wander through the construction site to get back on the route.  Don’s and my wandering took us farther afield and with difficulties negotiating into the city, we didn’t arrive at the Hotel Dream until after 5 pm.  The hotel was once a church; many of the rooms have arches left from the church interior, ours has 6 stairs down from the bathroom to the bedroom area (see photos later).  After finding a close-by laundry, we ended up with salads, a sandwich and rose wine from the local mini-mart for dinner.  46 miles

We slept in this morning, then realized that the loop ride today included a tour at the site of the Grand-Hornu, a colliery built between 1810 and 1830 by Henri De Gorge.  In addition to mechanical workshops, he built houses for the workers and included a health care and child education system.  The facility has since been restored and includes offices, a museum and several exhibition areas.  Rather than continue the planned 25 mile loop, we reversed our route and stopped at the Van Gogh house on the way back into town.  Van Gogh lived in the area for a little over a year while he was serving as a minister to the coal miners before deciding to dedicate his life to art.

Back in town,  we  looked into the huge Gothic church, Collegiate Saint-Waudru, then walked past the Belfroi, the Grand-Place, and the Hotel de Ville, before returning to our hotel.

Dinner tonight was a group four course, three wine meal in the hotel – outstanding!  (see photos)

18 miles

As the dinner ran quite long, photos will be reserved for tomorrow…

 

Rest Day in Tournai: October 1

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While there was a riding loop today, Don and I did not consider it: threat of intermittent rain and my delightful head cold.

We listened to the ride briefing then headed to the Museum of Folklore, filled with all manner of artifacts of times gone by.  No English translations, but my French seems to get us the general information.  Somewhere in the coming and going to the museum I lost a lens in my glasses – looks like I’ll be using sunglasses whenever I am not wearing my contact lenses.

That hour-long visit took my strength away so we went back to the hotel to rest.  We then walked to a large bike store we had passed as we entered the town and Don bought some warmer gloves, as there is the threat of rain for tomorrow.

We discovered that kitchens close at 3 pm, so our lunch consisted of waffles, his with fruit, mine with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce – we actually shared.  This was enough to give us strength for a walking tour of the town, though we bailed before the tour ended.

Basically, I have been in bed since 5:30 pm, Sleeping some – and dear Don brought me minestrone soup and pasta for dinner.  Hoping that medication and sleep will be the cure.

Ypres to Tournai: Sept. 30

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The early miles this morning were fast, few turns and rolling countryside.  Our first stop was in Kortrijk on the Leie River with canals.  We were encouraged to visit the Beguinage, built near the end of the 13th century.  This area is described as an architectural complex which was created to house lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world.  While walking in the Grote Markt we came upon a community band and dedication of a memorial wreath.  According to Siri, Sept 30 is observed due to the Third Battle of Ypres in West Flanders. We also visited Our Lady’s Church in Gothic style. built to celebrate the Counts of Flanders.  All morning we saw many cyclists enjoying the sunny Sunday and smooth roads.

Not far from Kortrijk, we entered Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium – no borderline but the signage changed suddenly.

We stopped briefly at a Medieval Festival in St Leger, but did not wait for the combat exhibition.  I did take photos of swords and shields for my grandson Yoseph.  Also posed with a Templar, plus a King and Queen.

While riding along one of the canals, we passed several large piles of sugar beets.  We also saw harvested potatoes and fields of cabbage and more leeks.

We are staying tonight and tomorrow in Tournai at the Hotel d’Alcantara.

39.2 miles

 

 

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