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Day 1 on the Via Turonesis. From Leuven to Scourmont, 130 km

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Got up at 4:15 am to get the last things ready for our first day. Floky, my grandson and Rinus’ brother, is already there at 5 o'clock. He checks the luggage on the bike and I make cheese and ham sandwiches for him so that he can have a bite whenever he is hungry. In addition, I have crunchy muesli and milk and also a box of Sushi for lunch as well as apples. We also take four cans of water and some other drinks with us. At 6:10 a.m. we close the door behind us after a quick breakfast. Pieter comes to wave us off. Rientje, our guardian angel, flies with us. In one of the bags on my bike I take the statuette of an angel that Rinus' mom gave me last year.

We leave along the road to Wavre with 135 km ahead towards the Abbey of Scourmont near Chimay. It is the abbey where the Cistercian monks brew their famous Chimay beer. However, the name refers to the town of Chimay, 9 km from their monastery.

The road we follow is the cycle route that takes us largely through beautiful nature. The bad part is the part where we drive around Charleroi, no cycling tracks and a dodgy neighbourhood. Fortunately, we have three beautiful parts of the way on as many RAVELs, Reseau Auroroutes Vélo. Two on old train beds and a third along a canal. The last part from just before Beaumont to Chimay is about 50 km and is extremely beautiful. Many trees on both sides of the way and lots of shade.

We ride for six hours in the morning, until around noon and after 82 km of cycling we have lunch at a picnic area along one of the Ravels. Floky is busy taking photos and videos all the time and putting them on Instagram. He thoroughly enjoys it.

Around 4 pm we reach, tired, I very tired, the abbey of Scourmont, on top of a hill. A final effort is needed but we make it. We have driven a lot without electric support to save our battery which can assist between 120 to 150 km when you drive ECO but sometimes you have to use more.

We are kindly welcomed by the brother hotelier who offers us a capuccino and a home-made apple soup. We are accommodated in two simple rooms with shared showers and toilets. Complete silence because one must be silent in the abbey. Even during dinner, which is sober, we must remain silent. Everyone is a bit petrified and that is not to Floky's taste. But he has eaten enough. For dessert there is cheese from the abbey and of course as much Chimay Gold (the famous abbey beer) as we want. Floky has only just tasted it. I drink the rest of his bottle, as a sacrifice.

At 8.30 p.m. I fall asleep and I don't know when Floky does. He did tell me that tomorrow at 6.30 am he will not go to the Lauds, the first prayer of the monks. Silent and rigid eating is sufficient for him as an act of austerity.

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