Poperinge to Mons
31 August 2011 | Mons, Belgium
by Jeff, sunny and cool today
We ride to the east now, often times with a nice tailwind. We weave through farm fields plump with late summer agricultural bounty: corn, hops, beets, cabbage, and much more. Farm activity is also vibrant, we dodge massive modern tractors working the fields, pulling trailers of harvest or spreading manure. These roads are usually paved "cow paths" or simple one lane roads that give local access to the farms. Without the paving these paths would be deep rutted mud pits from the heavy tractor activity, with it they are the most delightful cycling roads imaginable, smooth pavement with endless pastoral views, tidy gardens, fat and happy livestock. Navigating these farm roads with a paper map would be frustrating and slow, as most intersections are unmarked. Experience Plus! has recorded these routes on GPS and the lead guide can navigate easily while chalk marking the course. Also quite abundant these days are rooftop solar panels on houses and farms.
Our most interesting spontaneous experience happened today. We came around a corner and could hear a brass horn in the distance. We stopped to listen to two guys from a road construction crew who were on a break, playing coiled long brass horns, an ancient instrument without valves, all of the notes are by mouth manipulation. Their sound echoed off of the forest walls as we stood in front of a magnificent castle, the moment was magically medieval.
Over the last 2 days we given a wave to the breweries Dubuisson and Brasserie a Vapeur and had a brief stop at the quintessential farm-brewery Dupont. Tonight we are in Mons, a large city south of Brussels that is off of the typical tourist routes, however it has a beautiful and vibrant central market square and a welcome density of high quality restaurants.