Bourges, France -> Brussels, Belgium
610 km dep: 07:55 arr: 19:50
Weather: cloudy with localized rain
Woke-up rested from a good but short night of sleep, packed everything in record time, had a coffee and then left my camping spot. The road almost all the way up to Belgium had a lot in common with what we usually find in Canada: straight and bordered with fields and forests; and I tought I would be passing through a lot of population … Quite boring but on the other hand faster; I rode more than 600 kilometers that day but it did not felt like it.
Near Reims, I encountered a few spots of heavy rain. I had rode through light rain before, but never in that scenario and believe me, it is as shitty as it is dangerous. My helmet was fogging up all the time and even if I had rain gear, I could feel the wind forcing water through every zipper and exposed area in my equipment. On to top of that I had to double up on attention because a wet road, as we all know, is more slippery and balanced on two wheels, aquaplaning is a serious threat.
In Picardie (Montcornet), I ran out of gas because I overestimated my tank’s reserve. The yellow light had been on for a while – I tought there was a good 100 k left in the tank – but while going downhill to the village, the engine stopped. Luckily, that was the village with a gas station in. Unlike North-America, France does not have gas station everywhere and in some cases, they can be as most as 50 kilometers apart (which was the case here).
Not looking forward to pushing my motorcycle to the gas bar, I managed to restart the engine at the bottom of the slope. It turns out there was a bit of gas left, but because of the incline, it could not get to the injectors. Lesson learned!
Since there are no border controls in Europe, it is always a surprise when you cross from one country to the other. I hit Belgium all of a sudden and was pleased to discover they had no tolls on highways, which because of an already long day of riding, I decided to take.
In Brussels, I quickly found myself stuck in heavy traffic and having absolutely no idea of how the city was layed out nor where my hostel was, I decided to leave my motorcycle in a covered parking, packed my bag and continued on foot. I knew the hostel was at the Grand place (its not named Grand place hostel for no reason) but after walking around like an headless chicken for an hour, I set my pride aside and asked a few locals. One even let me surf on her iphone (that earned her a beer later), but it was the pub-crawl guide that finally pointed me to the right spot and even gave a map of the city (called USE-IT, very good and resourceful map/tourist-guide).
Tomorrow, I will be giving my ass a break and putting my legs to work visiting Brussels.