French Cycling Saunter – July 2022

Day 8

Haynes, France to Visé, Belgium 106 miles & 470 metres climbing

The proximity of my little tent to other campers meant late night chatting delayed my sleep and then some nearby 4am rustling woke me up with a start. However, On waking I had a leisurely start at 9am and fortified by porridge and croissants I continued north along the river. After my decision to return to Yorkshire early I had to switch my ferry sailing date and needed to contact the operator (whilst cycling.) P&O Ferries were perfect, they switched my date with no administration charge. I sorted it all on my mobile in Givet.

Goodbye Haybes
Beautiful vistas

To add to my fortunes I had, at long last, a tailwind and it was mainly overcast to start. This meant going faster without the energy sapping heat. As it was Sunday it seemed that Belgium was out and about dining. For my lunch I came away from the river in Namur and found something to eat before heading north again. It was all about calorie intake and getting it quickly.

I’m sorry, I let standards slip again.

Again there were few other cyclists. As I progressed further north the scenery became more industrial and the river got wider. However there were some sports on the Meuse, namely, water skiing, jet skiing, rowing and fishing.

Only near Huy I saw a working barge, it must have been close to its destination as the river got less navigable, for large crafts, the further south you went.

(You get plenty of time to reflect on things as you pedal for hours and it seemed that only low cost materials were carried on the barges ie. it was too expensive to ship these aggregates, building materials or cheap bulk chemicals by road. In an age rightly concerned about fossil fuels and congestion then water seems a good option.

Around Liege the path stopped and I had a difficult job finding a route and ended up heading north on major roads. Liege was very unlovely and offered no camping option. The time was now past 6pm and I’d clocked a high mileage for the day. So I stopped and conferred with Booking.com to pick a town and hotel I could reach. I randomly chose the town of Visé, still on the Meuse and the only hotel there.

The hotel was clean and smart but the ‘patron’ was a complete ‘buttock’. I asked where I could store the bike and I got a shrug of the shoulders and the nonsense explanation of ‘space restrictions’. (Remember Belgians love bicycles!) Anyway after a short plead she allowed me to bring the bike up to the first floor. Further joy arose at discovering my toilet seat was broken and beside the pan, the air con remote control was missing (I stood on a chair to activate overcoming the cost saving initiative) and the milk was sour at breakfast. My feedback on Booking.com was brutal. On a more positive note England Women won their Euro semi final and were all set for the Germans in the final. It’d been a long day but all cyclists feel that doing a century is a day we’ll spent.

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