Alps - Day 1 : A nice start
Last night I (Bart) hadn't slept much and gotten a cold. I arrived at Bram around 8:30. Jorien and her dad came a little later; they would join us for the first part. It was sunny and dry. The four of us cycled via the Achelse Kluis monastery to Budel, near Belgium. There I lost my glasses but later found them again on my head. The cycling went well. Meanwhile, Jorien's dad told us about his cycling trip to the Northern Cape. He could also tell us what every mountain was like along the route he had made for us. Jorien and he didn't carry much food and drinks, especially considering it was Sunday, and most stores would be closed. They had already cycled 10 km to reach Bram. Her dad started to feel like cycling and went 25 km/h, making it hard for Jorien to keep up. We took a break after 30 km. Jorien didn't feel that well, 'but it would get better after eating and drinking a bit'. The first sip came out faster than it went in. They called home to have her mom pick her up 10 kilometers farther. Meanwhile, Bram and I would continue at a faster pace.
Na Maaseik volgden we het kanaal naar het zuiden.
At the canal
It was locked
From Visé onwards the hills in the Ardennes started. Last night Bram had gone out until 00:30, so he was pretty tired. Just after Visé we heard people shouting. It was Jorien with her parents and sisters. They had been waiting for over an hour to see us one last time. Luckily Jorien felt better. She hadn't dared to tell her boyfriend, Bas, that she had quit after only 40 kilometers because Bas had survived three days of cycling with Bram on their trip to Groningen. We learned that her dad had gotten a flat tire shortly after we had said goodbye.
At the end of the afternoon the weather got worse. For dinner we ate fries and took a campsite in Malmedy. The route description continuously mentioned how many kilometers we cycled. However, this didn't include taking wrong turns, searching for stores and campsites, roadblocks, etc. To finish the entire loop in 22 days, we needed to advance 142 km per day excluding all the extra kilometers. We had cycled 170 kilometers, took a shortcut that saved us 40, and still only advanced 140 kilometers according to the route descriptions. Apparently there were some errors in the map. We hoped it wouldn't continue like that, otherwise we would never make it home.
We arrived at the campsite at eight, but the front desk was still open. We quickly pitched everything and wanted to go for a shower. Of course they required tokens. That is usually already annoying, but by now the front desk had closed, so that we couldn't buy any. Fortunately, we found one left behind in one of the machines. By showering fast, we both got a rinse using only one token.
Distance cycled : 170 km.