When I planned the trip I imagined cycling along the bank of the River Schelde in glorious sun, passing an occasional historic harbour.
Instead for the first 10 miles I’m tracking 200m paraellel with the river, through heavy industry and petrochemical works – into a fierce headwind.
No sooner had I cleared the industry and onto the riverbank cycle path than the clouds which had been threatening all morning unleashed a hailstorm.
It was followed by a couple of rainy hours negotiating river crossings and canal locks to Temse where I had a break for lunch.
Taking a more direct route away from the river paid dividends, as I no longer had the wind directly in my face and there was an interesting route through small towns and villages.
I made good time into Gent where I checked into my Congo themed room for the evening.
As one does.
I had plenty of time to enjoy the late afternoon sun (and a couple of beers).
It was another 70km today, and on top of 120km the previous day it’s caught up with me.
I’m feeling grateful that tomorrow is just 45km to Bruges !
I woke not to rain, but a nice sunny blustery day for what will be the longest ride of the trip – 120km to Antwerp.
Time to check out of the boat I stayed on last night.
Initially heading SW I was getting some benefit from the wind, but as my trajectory shifted SE it began working against me – reducing my speed to single figure mpg at times.
It took 5 hours to cover the 48 miles to Roosendaal where I had a rest and some lunch.
It took me another hour to reach the border at Essen, then a further two to make it into Antwerp.
At least there was reward at the end of the journey.
I think you’ll be able to appreciate how it is that I now find myself having left the house for a week wearing odd shoes.
It was still a very nice cycle this morning.
I’ve cycled to/from Hoek van Holland a few times now, but today I picked up the green route; and how different it is.
First woodland, then hundreds of acres of greenhouses followed by the banks of the river punctuated with picturesque harbours.
I was even able to catch up on some barge racing.
It was only 35km but I’d have happily lapped up another 100km with the conditions so good.
However, just as I arrived in Rotterdam it clouded over and the temperature dropped, shortly before it started raining my hands began turning blue with cold.
Weird weather, but a brilliant route that I will use again should I be heading in the same direction some other time.
Speaking of lapping up …
I spent the rest of the day trying out some of the best craft beer in Rotterdam, and mentally preparing for what promises to be a big day of cycling tomorrow.
You can read about the beers here.
Antwerp here we come.