top of page

DAY 43: from Abbaye de Scourmont to Leuven via Thuin, 150 km

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Out of bed at 5:45 am because I want to be ready in time to go to church around 6:15 am for the Lauds, the morning hymns. 14 monks thank God for a new day before they start their daily tasks. Monks meet 7 to 8 times a day for communal prayer. Cistercian monks (a religious order developed by Saint Bernardus 12th century) follow the rule of Benedict (5th century): ORA et LABORA or PRAY and WORK. About 8 lay people also sit in the church section reserved for them. The Scourmont Abbey was founded in 1850 by some monks from the West Vleteren Abbey. The abbey of West-Vleteren was in its turn founded by monks from the north of France in 1831. The abbey of Scourmont is located about 9 kilometers from the town of CHIMAY, world famous for its Trappist beer. It is really located a few kilometers from the French border. They found that the soil in the area was quite poor to produce enough and decided to brew beer as some had learned to do so in West Vleteren. Now, in addition to delicious beer, they also produce great cheese from milk from cows that they raise at the abbey. In this way they give work to many people in the region.

Leaving the abbey of Scourmont

After Lauds, which last for about half an hour, there is breakfast from 7:15 am to 8 am. Bread, butter, jam, four types of fresh cheese or cheese spread, tea or coffee and apple juice made from home-grown apples and the same apples as fruit. In the dining room there is a Douwe Egberts coffee machine that automatically makes all types of coffee or chocolate milk to your liking. A nice breakfast that tastes delicious in complete silence. My bike is already ready to go and I leave at 8 o'clock sharp. I especially thank the old gentleman for his hospitality and for offering free accommodation, dinner and breakfast. He simply answers by saying that he is happy that I chose to visit them and he adds: the bike ride you took with your two grandchildren proves that life is stronger than death. A firm handshake and I wipe away a tear. Rientje in heaven will be happy that we visited Scourmont and cycled those kilometers for him and with him.

Chapel in Chimay and the Ravel 109/2

From the Abbey you first drive to the town of Chimay, which is an easy 9 kilometers because it is downhill almost the entire time. Google Maps, this time, takes me flawlessly to the Ravel 109/2 that runs from Chimay to Beaumont over 28 kilometers. That network of bicycle highways is fantastic. In Beaumont I follow the next section of the Ravel for 15 km until the end of a second section so that I reach Thuin, a beautiful town on the Sambre. Its belfry is the remaining part of a church that was pulled down late 18th century. In fact, I had to turn right before Thuin, but I decided to enjoy the green Ravel route a little longer. Once again Google maps is useful as it takes me along the Meuse on another greenway that leads along the Sambre past the ruins of Aulne Abbey. The remains of a large Cistercian abbey that was almost completely destroyed by the gilets bleu blanc rouge of the revolution in 1794. You cannot miss them because one of the locks is called Ecluse (lock) de l'Abbaye d'Aulne. From there I xycle further towards Marchiennes-au-Pont where I stop at the Intermarché to do some shopping for my last lunch on this journey. Then I can continue along one of the many canals near Charleroi towards Brussels and then turn towards Ottignies and then on to Wavre.

The town of Thuin with the belfry along the idyllic Sambre

Thanks to all those beautiful stretches of Ravel bicycle highways, I don't have to go through (ugly) Charleroi, even though I see several (good) examples of industrial heritage along the canal. On the last part of Ravel, completely in the greenery, I eat my lunch for the last time of this pilgrim's journey, some wraps that I bought in the Intermarché together with a non-alcoholic 0.0 beer and an apple. In fact, thanks to the Ravels I was able to drive on quiet and beautiful green roads for at least three quarters of the day. Now I'll stop taking pictures because I want to get to Leuven as quickly as possible. It has become warm and my legs are tired from the many kilometers.

Ruïns of Aulne abdij and surroundings; not far away more industrial areas of Charleroi

From Waver I drive via Sint-Joris-Weert to Leuven where I arrive around 4:30 pm: tired but happy. Eli and grandma welcome me very warmly and about ten minutes later Moses also comes home from school. He hugs me warmly, but tells me that I should take a shower first. When the smell of sweat is gone, he promises to hug me even more intimately. We quickly take some pictures of the return home, but I am quite tired and so I look a bit miserable. An hour later, Floris comes home. Moses quickly drafts a text in Dutch and translates it into English, which he posts on social media to proudly proclaim that his grandfather has successfully completed his pilgrimage cycle tours and is home safely. To my great surprise, about 60 responses come in that evening with congratulations and bravos.

opi or granddad warmly welcomed by the grandchildren and Magda

Thanks to all friends and sympathizers for their support. Thanks also to all who supported the project financially and who may still support it. Without the support of everyone, this journey would not have been possible. The Rinus Pini Fund and the King Baudouin Foundation are extremely grateful to all these friends and sympathizers. Rientje is also very grateful to them, especially because with the money raised we can support projects for children in intensive care or terminal children and psychological support for parents who lose a child due to a tragic accident or serious illness. Part of the money will also go to the conservation of the cheetahs, Rientje's favorite animal. I left on July 16th and today is September 6th. A journey of approximately 3750 kilometers. During the outward journey I was accompanied by Floky for almost 1900 km: in fact he led me because he showed the way and drove ahead. That was the Via Turonensis and a part of the Camino Aragones to Spain, Jaca, with two cols, one of 1600 meters and one of 1800 meters. Then I rested for a week in Serviès-en-Val in our house where we had to work hard every day because Peter's B & B was running at full speed. Grandma and Opi's extra hands were very welcome.

Together with Floky, Peter Magda and Bruno

On the way back I was accompanied by Bruno (leading me) who cycled with me down the Via Podiensis to Le Puy-en-Velay. Together we conquered the many hills of the Gers and especially the Massif Central. I had nice conversations with both Floky and Bruno and they consciously participated in the trip because they knew that they were contributing something very concrete and very meaningful to the Rinus Pini fund. I am very grateful to them that they wanted to hang out with grumpy granddad. Thanks also for the support I received from all the children-in-law and friends: Fre, Tim, Ann, Peter, Vero, Yasmine, Chris(+je) and also the support from the other grandchildren: Robin, Moses, Eli, Leo , Niel, Lucy and Jacobje's encouragement. Finally, thanks to my brothers and sisters-in-law: Litje and John, Eric and Nicole and Alain and Annie. I would also like to thank Christian and Christiane Roger who welcomed us so generously in Bordeaux.

A special thanks to my wife Magda for all the logistical support and for her final editing and posting of the blog for 43 days and also for distributing information via Facebook. Thanks to Floky, Moses and Bruno for their work on Instagram. Also a big thank you to the sponsors who made this tour possible, Dédé, Lucien-bikes and others and of course all the generous donors. Thanks to the support of all these people and all friends and sympathizers, I completed this journey successfully. In the meantime, Robin, Rinus' sister, organised; an Easter egg sale with the scouts of Sint Paulus Leuven and Yasmine, Rinus' mother, sold clothing, pottery, Pini hoodies and T-shirts to donate the profit to the Rinus-Pini Fund. Together we try to draw strength from these actions.

Easter egg sale , tthe journey on the different French Via's to Santiago and sale at Yasmine's place

The responses received today also include references to other actions that will take place for the Rinus Pini Fund in 2023, such as the Eindhoven marathon organized by Hans, Rientje's godfather and the Leuven corrida on December 30. There were also suggestions or questions about the possible next pilgrim cycle tour for next year's Rinus Pini Fund in 2024 on the Via Francigena or the tour over Canterubury, Dover, Arras, Laon, Reims, Pontarlier, the Great Saint Bernard pass, Pavia Lucca to ROME… I will then carry Rientje back with me in my heart and on my bicycle as I used to take him with me in my cargo bike.

Jacob and Rientje (with glasses) in grandpa's cargo bike

One thing is certain, we will NEVER forget RIENTJE! First some rest and then we'll see...THANKS TO

Rememberance of Rientje in De Ark , with his classmates, Rientje's resting place in Leuven, remebering Rientje at his favourite spot in Serviès-en-Val

12 views0 comments


bottom of page