DESTINATION: Watou, Belgium, Home of St Bernardus and among the hop fields of the Poperinge region
For the complete trip itinerary click here.
DISTANCE: 73 Miles (117 Kilometers)
GETTING THERE: I recommend that most people either split this into two days or take a day off before attempting this route. It’s not difficult or grueling, but we were struggling since we hadn’t taken a break. The route is mostly flat, and very straightforward.
OUR ADVENTURE (from Casey):
The day we’ve dreaded…73 miles! Normally, 73 miles on a bike wouldn’t be a problem, but we just cycled over 50 miles for 3 consecutive days. And one of those days was awful hills. Our legs are dead and our butts are already a little raw.
The ride didn’t start well. The bike trails in the French/Belgian borderlands are TERRIBLE. We were bumped around for most of the ride, which only exacerbates an already chaffed ass. The ride was actually pretty uneventful, and would have been a breeze without the ass chaffing.
Eventually, we arrived in Poperinge. The town is about 5 miles from the St. Bernardus Brewery. While attempting to get out of the way of a passing vehicle, I tried to get onto the sidewalk and out of the way. The curbs in Poperinge seem harmless, but they’re at a strange angle and lined with metal. As I aimed toward the sidewalk, the curb repelled my tire. The bike immediately shot back towards the road; I continued towards the sidewalk. Spandex-it makes any sidewalk a waterless slip and slide! Luckily, I only sustained a few bruises and the bike was unharmed. I quickly forgot about my chaffed ass!
Minutes later, Nathan had a similar mishap with the curb. Luckily, he broke his fall by flying into a concrete pillar. Now we have matching bruises! Lesson learned, do not try to jump the curbs in Poperinge!
Despite our mishaps, we made it to the St Bernardus Brewery just in time for the last tour of the day! The tour is like any typical brewery tour, but for €25 you get 2 full beer samples and a gift pack of 4 beers and a St Bernardus chalice!
We stayed at the St Bernardus Bed and Breakfast for the night. The B&B is in the middle of nowhere, but you have unlimited access to the beer fridge (with every type of St Bernardus beer ever made). There’s also a nice restaurant within biking distance to the hotel. We met up with our fellow B&B lodgers and biked to the local restaurant for dinner. After almost a week of talking to non-English speakers, it was nice to have a conversation in English again!
I’m not going to talk about the beers here because I think they deserve their own future post.
On to the next post: Day 9 – Westvleteren and Poperinge