A long day

Trip Start Aug 18, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Zutendal campsite

Flag of Belgium  ,
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I left Brussels a little late, but surprised by how easy everything felt. I'd obviously recharged over the last few days. This, as it turned out, was fortunate. I had, that morning formulated a cunning plan. I would ride the 25km to Tienen, a small town with, though I didn't know this at the time, a beautiful square, cobbled streets and very impressive town hall. There I would have lunch, before covering the next 25km to St. Truidan, where I would have dinner and find the nearest campsite. The plan was flawless. Almost.

I reached Tienen in good time. I made a point of having a look around the centre and taking some photos, as I have, up until now, allowed myself to be guided around ring-roads and bypasses, and thus not actually managed to see many of the larger towns I've passed 'through'. This resulted in me not only not seeing, but not even knowing about Tournai's rich history of tapestry before I reached Brussels! Never again will I be guilty of such a failing. I had a crepe, which is something of a Belgian thing, so can chalk up another palatable local speciality.

I got to St. Truidan after 66km ride at 6pm. There was a festival going on in the main square, a festival of the clearly-unsafe-and-uninsured-thirty-year-old-travelling-fairground kind that we all know and love. The tourist office was closed, so I asked around for an internet cafe. After a couple of mistakes/miscommunications/downright lies, I was directed to the library, where I used the internet (for free-bargain). The internet, bless its little heart, tried hard, really hard, to find the nearest campsite. I know it did, I trust it. This campsite was, precisely, 41.5km further on.

Several firsts were achieved this day. First 100km ride - hopefully the second won't be too soon; first night ride - fortunately, I am a clever boy and among the things I bought in Lille and Brussels were a headlamp and a compass; first worrying twinge in my left knee - this has reappeared a couple of times, but so far not escallated to anything serious.

I arrived at around 10pm, after only asking 2 people where it was and backtracking once. There was a bar there. By 11pm I was washed, changed, and in it, telling the freindly locals what I'd done and how great I felt and how I could do it again. I did feel great, and at that moment, I could have done it again. The next morning, however, I could barely move.

I should mention, at this point, in case any of you should find it useful, that telling people you're cycling to Australia gets you free beer. I wish someone had told me before now.
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