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Niamh & Matthew - We are teachers working internationally. We met in Togo, West Africa and most recently lived in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We both love to travel and visit new places - especially by bike.

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A collection of tales from the road #7 - Belgium

October 30, 2018

 

 

Belgium was the penultimate country of 9 cycled across in 6 days as part of the World Record Attempt (see post #4 Austria).

 

I’ve not much to say about cycling in the country, but I think that is more to do with the short time frame of the visit than anything else.

 

This post has an F1 theme, a strange coincidence as the last country I wrote about; Azerbaijan did too. Our route in Belgium from Luxembourg to the Netherlands took us past the hilly Spa Grand Prix circuit that I had dreamed about as a kid. Seeing it in the flesh was like something from a fairytale, the place where heroes and villains came to blows, usually in the blinding rain as per the day we cycled through. It was a particularly tough ride that day as we had put in five long days prior to it, so the four of us began to tire in the afternoon and were exhausted arriving in a racing themed hotel, thankfully it served a multitude of fine beers.

 

We soon unwound from the day and began to come around to planning the challenge at hand and for the next day.

It’s only dawned on me whilst writing this post, that we were sat there having just set a new world record.  Belgium was our 8th country this week, and as the current record stood at 7 countries, we had done it. But we had a day in-hand and could push on to the Netherlands to make it an emphatic 9 countries. I excitedly raised this topic and the dinner table. Big mistake. One of the team, a personal trainer (though I am not sure what for exactly) and the boyfriend of one of my school colleagues, almost knocked the table over as he stood up in protest. “What do you think this is? Why are you so set on getting to the Netherlands tomorrow? It’s not like we are trying to set a world record or anything”, he exclaimed. Puzzled, I looked around at another more clued-in team member. He looked back at me, with just as puzzled a face, but our mystified chuckles stopped to respond in harmony “Errr… YES it is”.

 

To me, the fact that this whole trip had been a record attempt helped to raise interest from the press, and money for Children With Cancer. This guy was part of those press releases, actually in the newspaper photos, and clearly it had gone over his head.

 

He stormed off to his room and avoided me all of the next morning, until we saddled up. We all then pedalled at a nice leisurely pace, for team dynamics of course. Things remained civil for much of the morning, but my mind kept looking and thinking 'All the Gear, No idea,' as he clipped in to his carbon pedals, on his carbon frame, with his carbon brain.  Then I forgot where I was as we approached a T-Junction, and saw him slowly come to a stop, and topple over, still clipped in, I burst into hysterical laughter. I'm not bad at heart and anyway, he was fine.

 

 

 

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