Europe by Bike & BargeRichard Oliver
The cycling through the hill-less lands of Belgium and the Netherlands was also exhilarating. The old cities of Burges, Ghent and Antwerp were magnificent, as were the rides through the blissful canal side bikeways with views of both old windmills and new wind turbines.
For both trips, our cycle forays usually pedaled off about 9 am, and traversed some 25-35 miles, before rendezvousing around 3-4ish with the barge for "happy hour and fellowshipping" followed by a sumptuous feast.
The barges typically have a crew of 5-6, which includes a gourmet chef. Every morning you enjoy a full, hot breakfast, and also make a sack lunch to take along. Of course, you can also opt to eat lunch locally as you traverse the countryside pubs and villages. On both B&B trips, one evening was reserved for dining in a fine local bistro of your choice.
On both cruises we had excellent English-speaking guides, who provided superb briefings on the many historic sites, and also carried an array of bike support equipment. Special treats were visits to celebrated Roman fortresses, ancient castles and stained-glass cathedrals, plus the innumerable beer taverns, wineries and cheese farms.
We chose to follow the bike guide each day, which was always at a leisurely pace, with frequent stops for coffee, food and "Loo" breaks. Folks also had the option of using daily detailed maps to break-away from the pack and set their own tempo; or, just remain on board to relax and bask on the sun deck (sometimes a cloud deck).
B&B's are a marvelously wonderful way to do multi-day bike rides -- without the need for heavy panniers or a tag-along luggage truck. And of course, you only have to unpack and pack once -- it's like having your own personal hotel and restaurant that follows along with you!
It should be well-noted, that as awesome as the magnificent eye-candy bike rides were, equally priceless was the close bonding that took place amongst the riders. The fellowship of bikers sharing the happy trails and the happy hours was a captivating experience. Many friendships blossomed, with heartfelt promises of future joint cycling excursions to come!