It was another very fast ride, from Gand to Anvers (or Gent to Antwerp). But I was worried about the path offered by google maps : I was to follow the N70 all the way. In France, following such a busy and large road on a bike is a death sentence. There is no shoulder, cars and trucks drive fast, close to you, and generally don’t leave you any space (although actually most did after leaving Paris). You just avoid such roads in France, even if that means ending up in mud bloated fields of potatoes.
But you have to trust Belgium. There was a large, protected and clear bike lane all the way between the two cities. All the way! Unheard of in France. Even in the countryside, in villages and smaller cities, bike lane. And one that was designed by people who had really used a bike : smooth transition between roads, no potholes, no detour at each crossroad, clear signs on the road… That was a real pleasure to use, and I reached Antwerp in less than three hours. Not a really picturesque road though, but that’s ok.
Arriving in Antwerp, the path was going over a river (l’Escaut), and I was looking for a bridge. But it was a pedestrian tunnel! Antique wooden escalators, where you have to keep your bike balanced, then maybe a kilometer of a small tunnel, and you end up in the city center. A unique experience.
I aimed for another bike shop first, to leave the bike until tomorrow and have the chain replaced. At this rythm the bike will be brand new before Germany! The guy in Paris said the chain was almost dead but it should be ok for the trip. With his overall attitude I didn’t feel like pushing him to change it, but I’d rather have it done. Then I wandered a bit in the city, where I was reminded that this is the world center stage for diamonds, and for Orthodox Jews that go with the trade.