Day 7: Leuven - Antwerp

Leuven - Antwerpen2

We pick up the same route on which we started this journey a week ago, the Art Cities Route. We can now spot the direction signs from miles away. The last stage of our seven-day journey takes us from Leuven to Antwerp. We have left the hills behind; the hardest cycling has been done. Today it’s just under a hundred kilometres of flat riding, back to the starting point of our trip. From the Beguinage in Leuven, over the bumpy cobblestones, through the medieval streets, via the imposing city hall, we cycle out of the city and have plenty of time to look back on a week of bikepacking.

The wonderful rhythm of being outside, having little else on your mind except the route you are following and what you see along the way. We eat dust on the unpaved path along the Dyle, drink a cup of coffee on a terrace in Mechelen right opposite St. Rumbold’s Cathedral and, in Lier, for the last time, we fetch our lunch at a supermarket that we come across along the way - bread, toppings, fruit and cold water. As a cyclist, you don’t need much more than that on the road. On a bench on the edge of the Vest, we eat our sandwiches and stare out in front of us. It’s almost over. Another thirty kilometres or so and we are back in Antwerp. A feeling of satisfaction and melancholy at the same time. This is how cycling trips often end. We’ve made it. And we might have wanted to keep it going for a while longer.

Leuven - Antwerpen5
Leuven - Antwerpen3
Leuven - Antwerpen4

The dust and sand on the bikes also satisfy bike renter Thomas. The gravel bikes have been well used. We cannot help but agree. They have seen asphalt, beach, dirt tracks, cobblestones, stones and gravel. Climbed forest trails and descended hills. And that over almost seven hundred kilometres. Proof that you don’t have to be far from home for a great cycling adventure.