One of my favorite things to do while living my spring and summers in Belgium is bike riding. I usually take a bike ride each morning for an hour or so. It is easy where we live because it is very flat with no big hills to climb like in Colorado. Another great thing that was incorporated in Belgium is a bike riding route system. An ingenious system that makes bike riding here a real enjoyable experience.
Here is how it works. Each town has mapped out the best bike routes that take you through quiet neighborhoods or nature areas in their area so you do not have ride in traffic. Most of the routes are paved just for the cyclist. There is a map system of points with numbers that you can access on the computer. You navigate to a general area where so you can build a route you in the area you would like to discover. Then on the computer you click on the different numbers to create a route which shows the distance between each point. If you find the route is to long then you can change it until you have something you feel comfortable doing.
We usually pick a town or area that we are not to familiar with that is close to nature areas and start clicking on the numbers to come up with a full circle route. Here is an example of what I am talking about.
As you can see the route is in Yellow and over on the side is how far the distance is between each point. With the total distant of the trip at the end. It is added in Kilometers. You can also look at the area with the satellite view so you can see what type of environment you will experience. On the satellite view you can see the towns or nature areas or any lakes or ponds that you may ride through which can make the trip more interesting, Most routes take you away from busy roads when possible which makes for an enjoyable ride.
Many small restaurants and cafe's have signs pointing to them along the way so you can stop for lunch or a drink. They are indicated on the map with coffee cups. Sometimes we pack a lunch, but mostly we just bring a snack and water to stop at the many park benches available along the different routes. We usually plan where we will stop for lunch in one of the outdoor cafés. The food is always amazing and is another one of the pleasures of living in Belgium.
After you have your route you can print it out or have it on your phone for easy access. We usually attach it to your handle bars with a rubber band around the small plastic route holders to put on you bike so you can see it easily.
When you begin your route you will need to watch for the number signs guiding you from point to point on your designated route. It is important to follow the numbers on your map or you will loose your way and get lost. On occasion we get so distracted by the scenery we have missed the next number and have to go back to find it so we can stay on our route which brings us back to the starting point. An example of one of the signs is pictured below. Translation(You are approaching point 82)
It is so much fun and similar to being on a scavenger hunt. We try to go on these bike rides a few times during the season.
Last week we decided to go to Holland for a bike route. You do not have to know anything about the area just find it on the map and begin designing your route. The ride in Holland was one of the best rides we have experienced. Most of the way was in a nature area and it was so peaceful and quiet, with only the song birds to keep you company. I always bring my camera along of course, so although this route was about 20 miles it took the whole day with all the stopping I did to take photos.
Every year more towns and areas add routes so you can go almost any where in Belgium or Holland and create a nice ride through the back roads. Many towns in tourist areas have designed routes that highlight certain attractions you may want to see in that area. It is so much fun.
Here are some of the images I captured along our route.
Here is a short iPhone video I took as we peddled through this quaint farm town looking for our next point number.
So if you ever get a chance to visit Holland or Belgium you should really try this amazing bike route system they have. You will see places that you would never experience by only visiting the tourist areas.
See you at my next blog post. If there is anything you would like to see or know while I am in Belgium please leave the suggestion in the comments. I want to write and photograph things that interest you my reader.
Comments are always welcomed.