Our last days of European cycling (for now)

We rugged up again and set off early from Oostende with about 80km ahead of us. We wouldn’t have thought twice about that distance in Asia, but at our European pace it was going to be a long day. The ride along the coast should have been beautiful, but the Belgians have built row upon row of ugly apartments along the beach front and the road usually goes behind these. At one point we were able to ride along the front, but being the shutters were closed on most of the apartments, there was no one around and the “for sale” signs everywhere gave the whole place a lonely, ghostly feel. The moody grey skies and thin wind didn’t help either.

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Cycling in the snow

We set of from Lander’s house in the drizzle, but with a good idea of the route and a shorter day planned to try and accommodate our super slow speeds. Unfortunately the weather really didn’t want to play along. First it was just raining with a very strong headwind, then it started hailing large rocks of ice which smashed into our pink faces. Our gear is not really suitable for winter touring, as we’d planned to get all the things we needed for the Himalayas on the road somewhere to cut down on weight for Asia. Our gloves quickly became wet and froze our fingers, and the wind cut straight through our shoes onto our wet socks. We both had enough layers to keep our core warm, so we knew we weren’t going to die (and anyway, Flanders is so populated that we could find someone to rescue us if it got serious) but it wasn’t much fun.

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Taking trains

After our miserable day biking to Apeldoorn we decided to employ train travel to help us reach our next destination – Lander’s home in Aalst. Without too much hassle we were able to find the right train that would take us from Apeldoorn to Rotterdam where we would switch onto the train to Roosendaal. The train travel was pretty easy. We just purchased an extra ticket for our bikes on the machines at the station and loaded the bikes into a carriage with a bike symbol on it. We had to take all the bags off to jam the bikes into place but with two people the tetris is a lot easier than it would be alone I imagine. The second train was a little more difficult because we had to hold the bikes across the door and move them every time people wanted on or off. We were in the bike carriage again but for some reason a person was sitting in the seats that fold up to give the bikes room and wouldn’t move for us. We aren’t sure if we were getting some kind of train etiquette wrong, or if they were just being obtuse.

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