monday morning saw elie’s translation skills establishing that we could make ourselves packed lunches without depriving any morris dancers of much-needed (if not deserved) sustenance.
we set off almost on schedule. the first part of the day was beautiful; quiet country lanes followed by canalside paths. the sun was shining and life was good. mike was nearly taken out by a low-flying pheasant! we made good time until stopping to see the yser tower in diksmuide. we had lunch in the german war cemetery at vladso which is a touching memorial against the madness of war. every flat tile bears the name of 20 soldiers. 25,644 soldiers are buried here. ‘the grieving parents’ by käthe kollwitz is a tribute to her youngest son who was killed in this region.
we decided that there would be two routes into bruges, one slightly longer than the other. we parted company in torhout after waiting for a party of about 100 pensioners cycle past. the ride into bruges was beautiful. wind in our faces for the first hour but the last 20km were along the canal with a following wind. we had agreed to meet up in bruges at 6pm so we had time for coffee, beer, ice cream, waffles and pancakes along the canalside before our triumphant entrance into the city. sadly jack got a puncture approximately 1 minute after our restart so it wasn’t quite the champagne-sipping moment we had hoped for.
finally we arrived and met up with the second group who had thoroughly enjoyed their ride into the city. we were reunited with bags and everyone went off to find accommodation before the celebration meal that evening. thanks to richard we were booked into cambrinus where we enjoyed great food and drink. the beer menu was astonishing and many a new variety was sampled. after a great meal, a few speeches and many backslaps we all headed to the main square where we spent some time together sitting on the church steps full of food, beer, good times and the satisfaction of knowing we’d had a great few days together. everyone seemed reluctant to get up and go (although this might have been due to the ale) as if the magic would be broken. however, the bonds that hold the amosroadclub together are strong and although we parted sad that we wouldn’t see each other for a while we were all optimistic that we would ride together again in the future.
check out the gallery for links to photos from the ride.