Day 10 - Luxembourg City to Marche-en-Femenne - Reach Out and Touch Faith*

Updated: Sep 10, 2019

I've got this. I don’t need faith. I know it. I've got this. Belgium threw everything it has at me and I won. 1600m of climbing, road works, diversions, terrible, terrible roads, torrential rain and more gravel and dirt. And I coped with it all. When I look back on today, it may be that I see today as the day I cracked it. Today could have finished me, but in fact I finished strongly. It also took me over the 1,000km mark for the trip which tells me that baring disaster I am going to make it London in 14 days and arrive at Rapha on Monday evening. (Or Tuesday morning depending on getting the ferry on Sunday evening). Last night when I reached my host in Luxembourg, I showered, wrote the blog (in time for the demanding commuter audience) ordered take away pizza and stayed in my room. Unlike other evenings I had no desire to engage in conversation with the host and frankly neither did he. I spent the night looking at maps and wondering how I am going to get up in the morning to do it all again five more times. Every day now will be over 100km, but it's hard to be exact when following a combination of the official route, the one on my Garmin and the changes I make on the fly. In short I was feeling sorry for myself. But at that low point I got some text messages of encouragement from a friend who is away in Barcelona, but he took the time to send some Depeche Mode related jokes, which proved he had been reading the blog (thanks Tom). But it reminded me I am doing this for fun. So I started today in the right frame of mind. I was rewarded through the opening 65km through Luxembourg with forests and fields and it was so so easy. My legs felt great, easily coping with the first long climb of the day before reaching the border at Martelange. I stopped to reflect and refuel. This was country number 6 and I couldn't quite believe I made here from Italy. I was excited to be riding in Belgium. Quite why I don't know, because within 5km I was faced with a choice of off road for an unspecified distance or a 1km 11% climb to join the route further north. Based on previous decisions I opted for the climb. It was a mistake. At the top, the road was blocked, so I had to come back down and go on the country path. There is clearly a reason why Belgium is a country full of cyclo-crossers: it's not by preference, but by necessity. THE FOLLOWING SECTION CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE OF A SEXUAL NATURE AND READERS OF A SENSITIVE NATURE SHOULD LOOK AWAY. WHAT THE FUCK BELGIUM?! I MEAN WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? How can this stretch of disused farm track be your part of EuroVelo 5? Unless you had a mountain bike with full suspension you are not making it through here. It was a fucking joke and I was seriously pissed off. I was neither willing nor able to get my beautiful Bianchi through this shit, so I was forced to walk for twenty minutes, all the time getting more and more mad with Belgium. No way was I going to be beaten by this though. Once I found my way back to a road I decided that I was no longer going to trust the Belgian route, even though it meant working my way around and adding kilometres to my day. Even the main roads are in a shocking state. There is a joke in the Netherlands that once you cross the border into Belgium, you drop 50cm because of the state of the roads. Fuck you Belgium. I will cope with extra kilometres. 'Oh yeah' says Belgium 'let's see how you like this' and a thunderstorm with torrential rain starts from out of the blue. The rain is bouncing off the roads, filling potholes and making it even harder to ride. I was forced off the road and couldn't record the moment I passed 1,000km for the trip, because my fingers were so wet I couldn't open the screen. After 10 minutes in a bus shelter, I decided to act. I was going to go for the most direct route over the upcoming hills which inevitably would mean more off road. I was right, but fueled by anger, I smashed my way up a gravel hill that I would never previously have considered trying. Once over the top I had cut out a big loop towards my end destination, a small village called Gurne and was only 12km away. Belgium took a final swing at me with a 6km 5% hill. I'm was having none of it and power up in the big ring, Jens Voight style. Once over the top I pushed like a lone escapee terrified of being caught just before the end of a stage. I've got this. 135km covered. My longest distance to date on this trip. I feel like I took everything Belgium has and won. I'm not fooling myself though. The rematch will be tomorrow as I try to reach Brussels. Today's numbers that count; Total distance covered - 1,045km Time in the saddle - 8:21 *OK I cheated, but you know the track 

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