Saturday, 9.9.00 – Givet, France to Bouillon, Belgium
Today was all hills - close to 4,000 feet in elevation gain cumulatively over all of the climbs (our favorite kind of riding). We had at least six major climbs of more than 5km each in length. The longest was 23 km - all uphill and fairly steep in most places. Of course, we were rewarded with some nice downhills, too. As I said, we love this kind of riding, and it reminded us of home.
The region we traveled through is Ardennes, which includes the Ardennes Forest, the site of many historic battles in both World Wars. It’s a beautiful area and we loved biking through it.
We left the Meuse River with our longest climb, and then for the rest of the day we followed the Semois River as it wound its way to Bouillon. Even though we followed it, the road didn't because we'd leave it for a while, climb another hill and then see the river again.
The Semois is a very popular vacation site and we saw many campgrounds along its banks. The Europeans set up some very elaborate campsites with trailers that have all of the comforts of home. Most of them have large covered porches and patios for entertaining, and just lounging. The campgrounds are all electrically wired and have satellite dishes. They looked more like summer homes than campsites!
On the last descent we encountered some mountain bikers that we chased into Bouillon. It turned out that there were mountain bike races the whole weekend and these guys were out practicing. It was a pretty big event with riders and major teams from all over the world.
After changing clothes, we walked up to the castle of Godefroy de Bouillon, defender of the Holy Sepulcher. It’s quite a large place, and we hope we have good pictures of it. After the walk down, we toured the town, walked through the market area, and ate another Belgian waffle. The castle was lighted at night and we had a great view of it from our hotel window.
The weather was similar to yesterday - overcast, but the temperature was a little warmer - maybe in the mid-60's. We're eating well, sleeping well, and feeling well, except we can feel our leg muscles a little when we climb the stairs to our room in the hotels. It must be hunger – where’s dinner?