Brugge had its hottest day on record, 38 degrees . . . . . they are blaming us for bringing the heat here from Australia!! Ha! . . . . our Belgium chocolate melts, whats left of it! Catastrophe!!
The heatwave follows us as we travel North East to The Netherlands and to amazing Utrecht. We planned our journey to include the start of the Tour de France & Utrecht was abuzz with merriment, excitement & the anticipation of The Race!!
The tree-lined canals have a unique wharf/cellar structure with a lower street on canal level where there were warehouses in 13th century – restaurants & bars and a great spot for our picnic now. The upper level beautiful shops & more cafes!!. . . .all very aesthetically appealing!!
It was intriguing and fun meandering through the many cobblestone lane-ways without getting lost!
The Cathedral Tower, Domtoren, 14th century, is the focal point in the medieval centre! It’s a towering 112 metres high with 50 bells & quite majestic!
Joined the locals for a Dutch barbeque & crepes next to this old windmill !!
There might be 9 million bikes in Beijing, but there are 18 million here in relatively small Netherlands! Kids learn to ride before they are barely able to walk and keep riding until they cant walk anymore! Mark checks out the double layer bike racks! There is also an enormous multi-level bike park undercover as part of Central Station!!
It seems appropriate to have the 1st stage and The Grand Depart of the 2015 Tour de France in such a bike friendly city! Only the 6th time it has started outside of France!
This year the presentation of the tour riders included each team taking a canal boat parade to the stage!! It was an interesting spectacle and the riders chilled out before the Tour!!
We took this photo of Australian Rohan Dennis from BMC and wished him good luck as he walked past us!! Little did we know he would be the winner of Stage 1 on Saturday & also make history with the fastest time trial in history with 55.4km/hr average speed!! He won the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia earlier this year so he is obviously in great form. That is Rohan on the left smiling at Bev as we wave the Aussie Flag.
Trees are decorated with yellow (leader-yellow jersey) and red& white spots (king of the mountain)!!
Our picnic rug is being put to good use again as we rest our weary legs and watch the world go by!
Trendy ice-cream bikes.
Babies sit happily on the front of bikes with some having a clear windshield.
They were also catered for in the fashion stakes for the Tour de France!
On Saturday, appropriately attired in as much Aussie paraphernalia we could think of, we jump on our “kangaroo bikes” and peddle excitedly into the old city for the 1st stage. The Individual Time Trials!!
Crowds everywhere but we manage to wiggle into a spot right on the road barrier!! The sponsors drive past first with elaborate floats, throwing stuff out to the crowd – caps, lollies, key-rings. The famous Miffy was invented here in Utrecht and is celebrating its 60th anniversary – so it was a fitting mascot.
Giant chickens, promoting chicken crisps, I think!
The Time Trial begins! 198 riders racing against the clock covering 13.8km through streets of Utrecht! We rode the course earlier & it took us 1 1/4 hours to complete – they clocked about 15 minutes . . . we did have to stop for traffic lights!!
If you blinked you missed the cyclist passing!! Rohan Dennis, from Australia, was sooo fast that my camera missed him!! Ugh! No-one was able to beat his time and he average 55.4 km/hr which included some tight turns. The 25 yr old from Adelaide set the fastest average time ever in the Individual Time Trial!! Our dutch mates in the crowd even helped us celebrate with the Aussie Flag!
Riding back to Bruce afterwards took many hours because everyone wanted to congratulate us & shout us a beer or 2!! Bev was draped in the Australian Flag & Aussie sunglasses of course!! What a brilliant day!!