Day 13, 30th May 2011, Ypres to Veurne

This was about as good as a day’s touring can get.  It started as a bright sunny day, for a change, and the wind was not against us, also a nice change.  As the map shows, the Flanders route, LF6 loops to the south before continuing its counter-clockwise direction. 

This means we were taken back into some hillier country.  The countryside is exquisitely beautiful on a day like today, which makes the frequent military memorials and cemeteries even more poignant.

We left the hills not long after Kemmel, descending into gently rolling country and by the time we came to the pretty city of Poperinge, we were back to canal country.  Poperinge is where the British in World War 1 lined up and shot bewildered and traumatised soldiers who could no longer face the horrors of the front line.  British soldiers that is.  They also wanted to shoot Australians, but in an unusual rejection of the usual sycophantic quasi-colonial attitudes of that time, the Australian command would not accede to this slaughter.

This was a day when our gradually building riding stamina made the ride so enjoyable.  We have found that it takes a little while before your body gets used to the longer days of exercise and responds positively.  The sensation of limitless stamina is absolutely delightful and difficult to describe.  You have to be there.

We have found on the last couple of days that our tour guide, purchased some 6 years, ago is occasionally out of date.  We had to follow TomTom into Veurne due to such a change.

Most of the day was spent on the wonderful sealed farm paths.  I had wondered about the cost of sealing these tracks, but after seeing in the World War 1 photos how impassable these tracks were then, it makes more sense.  It is these sealed byways that make bike touring such a pleasure in this part of the world.

This was another shorter day, just 79km.  The issue is that we decided to stop in Ypres last night, which meant that the ride to the ferry port at Zeebrugge was too long for one day, and a little short for two days.  We could have just made a beeline for Zeebrugge and made it in a day, but this tour has taken us to some great places, and today was no exception, so we made the right decision to continue the tour route.

For example, the route took us past a Trappist abbey, reputed to make the finest beer in Belgium, a country that arguably makes the world’s finest beers.  We tried a sample, which was excellent, but I think I have had the equal here at other times.

While I think it is wonderful that the Trappists are dedicated to making fine beer, I wonder at the motivation to serve God by making fine beer.

View 30 5 2011 Ypres to Veurne in a larger map


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