I've returned from Belgium. And if I had to sum up the trip in one word, it would be "go."
We spent five minutes in Belgium falling in love, and added nearly two weeks to wander. It is painfully beautiful, and shockingly wondrous. It is an epicurean center and a trove of history. It is a perfect place to both find and lose yourself. And it is, of course, a perfect place to be on a bicycle with a few honorable mentions.
Wind. . . the one constant in the weather of Belgium. These massive currents plow overland with a sincerity I have not seen since the alter. Expect it. Believe in it. Be ready for it. Wear glasses to keep your eyes from being shredded by your hair and anything else swept into the fray. It will be always present, blowing layers of clouds before the sun throughout the day like a conscience. Expect to be wet. Not a torrential rain, just enough to make a white skirt the bad choice for the day. And then it dries and lightly rains again. I welcome slight precipitation with the temperature hovering in the pleasantly warm and comfortable range of short sleeves, occasionally sweater and lightweight Barbour waxed cotton jacket. It is my ideal riding weather, even careening headlong into the wind and gulping on the mist.
Direction . . . Belgium is a haven for cyclists, with endless miles of perfectly marked roads to perambulate. The cycling routes, overhauled in April of 2016, have signs at every intersection to pinpoint where you are and literally send you in the right direction. We rode about 350 kilometers with our €8 map and were lost only once in Roeselare, with the entire city seemingly under construction. Additionally, you are two shakes of a lamb's tail from the heart of Bruges to countryside so remote you feel as if you were airdropped. Compared to the heart of say Boston, you would be saddle sore before you arrived at a place so seasoned with solitude. You can literally decide over a warm croissant at breakfast whether you are hungry for buildings or bovines and head out in any direction.
Elevation . . . our routes were flat, dead flat.The views in any direction, at any time of day or night are endless. I felt like I was looking across time zones finding my way through Flanders.
Culture. . . go for Belgium. Go for the people, the history, the beauty. Go for a vacation that can blend together the best beer and chocolate in the world. Go for memories that you can suck the marrow from for an eternity.
Go for the wind, the rain, the landscape, the ability to see your grandfather's poppies. Go for the gastronomic delights and the beauty of the ride. In one word…go.