Well actually I am writing this from Spa but we arrived here by devious and diverse means.
First to finish with the final twist from last night – having finally arrived our host presented us with a bottle of wine which was much appreciated, but we then remembered that today was All Saints Day – a holiday in all good catholic countries and thus both the Coci petit supermarche in the town and the Lidl 5km down the road would have shut early and we had no food.
This is often happening to me when cycling – get to the night’s roost and find no grub for miles around. We had actually passed a van selling frites a couple of km back, so I volunteered to go back and score some. Out again in the cold to join the long slow moving queue. Eventually got to the front after about a hour to find much sold out. Still 3 big portions of chips and some assorted brochettes (small skewers of meaty stuff) filled the gap.
All went well at first. Down through Doische village all closed up, brief run on a main road before hitting an excellent surface railway cycle path down to the Meuse, then along the river through the gorge lined with decaying spa hotels from late 19th Century. Empty newly surfaced road to Dinant at 30km for the much needed by then second breakfast.
A nasty climb on the main road out of Dinant to the East, very steep to start then a neverending 8% drag up to the retail parks at the top which at least provided lunch materials. Left the main road at the top to pass through rolling countryside, mostly pasture with Belgian Blue cows grazing and occasional piles of sugar beet.
Couple of steep climbs before reaching Ciney. By now 50km down but less than half way to a 120km total.
Ate our lunch and looked at the profile for the rest of the route to Spa. Hilly and increasingly nasty towards the end, already 1:30 there was no way we would make it before nightfall.
On the other hand there was a railway cycle path heading 50km bop North to Huy where we could pick up a train…
So we headed North. Fantastic cycle infrastructure. Smooth tarmac surface. Gentle downward gradient. Interesting scenery, occasional dog walkers, old stations, sometimes with bits of track remaining. A coffee stop. Sunshine, but not hot.
A Huy found a station just in time to get a train at 16:40, then got fined on the train because we hadn’t been able to buy a cycle ticket from the platform machine. The person ticket was €9.40 each from the machine, but we then got charged €12 for each donkey.
Anyway we got to Spa in time to change and walk back to the station and sample Belgian beer in the bar opposite whilst waiting for Ewan to arrive. Which he did on the next train having started 2 hrs after us and ridden the same distance approximately.
For Euan and I (the red line below) it was 89km at an average of 16.1km/hr – even though much of the day was flat we did dawdle a bit. Ewan started 2 hrs later and did about 96km before bailing out when it got dark at 5:30. Had he not been delayed he would certainly have made the final 30km. Had Euan and I not dawdled I am not so sure.