Alarm bells, Belgium and church bells.

AlaWe had agreed to set our alarms for 5:30 on Tuesday and morning, but somehow in the excitement Rob set his for 6:30. He eventually twigged something was up as he heard people moving around the house, and and just before 6:30 we had the immense relief of rolling off the drive and down the road. No more route planning, kit checking or other authors faffing; just us and a few thousand kms of tarmac.We flew down to Dover in a mild state of panic, and not wanting to miss the ferry and already disheartened by the heavy laden panniers. Greeted by cloudy Calais we headed on towards Belgium, eventually crossing the border and tentatively selecting the first wild camping and spot of the trip.

The next morning we spotted an OPQS pro rider zooming along as we sipped turkish coffees roadside. On then to the monstrously steep cobbled ascent of the Koppenberg. Somehow we both managed a stop and restart to take photos of each other on the fabled climb. During the course of the day the Belgium cycle pass system passed from being a novelty, then to really useful and finally became extremely annoying.

The following day we took on southern Belgium in real ardennes classics country. The most beautiful scenery so far took us over 500m on several occasions before we descended to the Luxembourg border in Martelange. By some chance of fate we ended up camping in the garden of a beautiful french woman and her husband in the tiny village of Ospern. There was beer, water, and bolognese and we had a stunning evening with them and another English and couple with dogs and kids thrown in for good measure. We slept well but for the church bells every hour, and if you guys are reading this, thanks again!

We were up early and headed south, passing back into France and battered by the sun all afternoon heading towards Phalsbourg. Small setbacks and the need to find 9 or 10 riding hours each day are making for long days, and we only found lunch after 3pm yesterday. It was tough and we need to be more efficient off the bike or it will only get harder.

Currently in macdonalds just north of Strasbourg, and preparing for a climb to over 1000m to Freiburg in the black forest this afternoon.  Thanks for reading and more to come in the next few days, time to hit the road!

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