I’m cycling around 2000 kilometers through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. All without paper maps, GPS or digital maps. Only a compass and own drawn maps should lead me to the highest mountain in France. And back to the Netherlands again.
Dave and mirte gave me a touristic route trough Maastricht before letting me go towards the south. They drew me a map how to get to Belgium and from there on I was on my own. It was quite easy because I did a simular trip last year. The kilometers went fast and before I knew it I was in the beautiful Belgium ardennes, where the real adventure started.
Cycling trough rain I made my first mistake. Making crappy, non detailled maps. It made me cycle 10 kilometers uphill before I realized I had to go back down. This also made me very insecure about the way I found my way down south. Also the constant rain didn’t help but when I finally was on the right road my eye spotted 4 cans of perfectly good food in a trashcan! My spirits where up again!
I’ve learned the food was there for a reason. The company who makes this food is helping on the downfall of humanity. Beans ‘n sauce that tastes of dogfood… White cabbage ‘n saussage with the taste of stale pudding. Aweful! Why do they make this trash?? But the food didn’t change my mood too bad. Or my maps. They got a little better, but it was still hard to find nice and not too buisy roads. Every time I’ve made a map it seemed I went wrong and this frustrated me time and time again. I had to trust my own mapping skills.
The more I made maps, the more I’ve trusted myself. My maps where getting more detailled but at some point my map ended. All the maps I came across stopped at the border of belgium, so when I entered France I had to ride on my compass. From village to village I went, without knowing where I actually whas or went. It made me a bit nervous, not knowing if I was on the right way, but I’ve learnt to trust my compass and the sun. It should he on the right side. And hopefully I would find a tiny map somewhere.
Of course I came across a map a day later. It was a huge woldmap! But it kinda helped me, since I knew around what area the Mt Blanc was. If I knew the big cities around it, for sure I could get there. Next to this I found a detailled map, so I was good for at least 100 kilometers. I just had to follow the meuse rivers, giving me nice oppertunities to swim, cool down and perfect places to set my tarp.
When sleeping under a tarp I’ve encountered the nature around me way more intense. I felt the wind blowing, heared tiny critters and other animals crawl trough the leaves and even had a nightly encounter with a wild pig.
But also the change in weather was more appearent. It became hot. Like sauna hot, and I was dripping of sweat. By now I was quite on my way towards this big mountain and a day of rest sounded good to me. A day full of fishing, reading, writing and chilling. It was good to do this because it prepared me for the next couple of sauna days where it would be 44 dagrees in the shade. I’ve never cycled uphill in such hot weather and it would be a good but energy-eating exerience…
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