We got going from our roadside camp and headed back to Zwalm. The next day was rainy and cold – we did some more laundry, then walked into the town planning to get some more of the tasty fries. No luck – fries shop was closed, as was the nice bar, so we picked up a few things from the grocery store.
On the way back to the campervan we passed a store that sold books and toys, and in the window was a vintage game with superstar racer Eddy Merckx, with a ‘no bicycles’ sticker in front of it – it struck me as very funny in cycling-mad Belgium.
The next morning we left before noon back to Brussels so Colin could pick up his camera – now with a complete new shutter assembly courtesy of Nikon. We decided to go north to near Antwerp to see the Scheldeprijs since we were so near.
We were following the Wayz GPS rather than the campervan’s, and it turned out to be fortunate – we were detoured at one point due to roadworks onto a very small side road. We noticed a small group of bicycle riders coming towards us so Colin pulled off as much as possible to let them pass. We were thrilled to see that one of them was van Avermaet in his CCC uni and another was Naesen in his AG2R gear – just out for a nice little ride of likely 150 km or so.
We had keyed a street name into the GPS but were thwarted by closed roads – an early race was happening on the same course. We backtracked a bit to another possible site, and had great luck.
We ended up right on the canal road at the ‘5km to go’ banner, where we parked in the lot of a construction business of some sort – it was perfect. This canal is a major ‘port’ with lots of large tanker-type barges and ferries. Apparently some of the bargemen live on them and travel with their families and everything. Several of them had cars strapped on top- mostly BMW’s – and one even had a playground enclosed by a large cage.
We saw two rounds of an amateur race before the men’s race arrived, also making two passes.
The first time around one of the riders threw a bottle on the road near us – there was a young boy with his mother watching behind the barrier I was at, and I wondered if I could somehow grab it for him but it was soon run over by a team car – it kind of exploded and was totally ruined. After the race had passed the first time we went back to the campervan and Colin asked me to grab one of the many bidons we’d collected from Tirreno-Adriatico and he gave it to the little boy who was just thrilled with it.
Afterwards we headed just a bit north to a campground that turned out to be full – but Colin was told to just park in the parking lot and use the facilities for free. There are some very cute goats, chickens and ducks.
We did go into the bar for a drink, then Colin returned to the campervan. I took my glass outside so I could face-time home without bothering the other customers. After a few minutes I noticed that they were locking up so I downed my wine (which was really very good) and couldn’t get back in to return my glass. Luckily the lady inside noticed and came around the side to collect the glass with a smile. What a nice place!