I’m thinking of riding to Belgium on my CG125. Sounds silly, but I passed my test around 2 and half years ago and am still happy on it and have been around a lot of the south/south-west/south-wales so 4+ hours in the saddle is not unusual now.
I have looked at this and will be making a packing list too. This is my first trip on my bike abroad, I am going for 2 days, so I have 3 questions:
Is there is a similar thing to the “Services” we have on our motorways here? - and if so, do they have showers? I’m thinking of keeping this zero-budget so camping is in order :w00t:
What are motorways in Belgium like? I ask this for 2 reasons - First, what speeds to the lorries plod along at? I have followed lorries at 55-60mph on the M1, M3, M4, M5, M25 here and it’s alright, although a little unpractical. The second reason: is it actually legal for a 125cc to go on the Motorways there? What about France, is it legal there too? I will be using the Eurotunnel and riding through France so would like to use the A16/E40 to Dunkerque, then the A25/E42 to Lille and onto Tournai and Brussels which I believe don’t have tolls?
On a 125 on motorways with a speed limit of 130kmh you will be stuck between lorries in the rightmost lane - very dangerous with the very short entry slips they have there. I would not go anywhere near the motorways. Don’t remember seeing showers at the motorway service stations (which tend to be very basic compared with UK ones. I would do some research on truck stops.
ALL services have showers but they are for truckers usually, when they buy fuel they get a free shower token but they can be used by others for around 2/3 euros but they are not always the best showers you will find.
There’s only tolls on some of the tunnels.
Avoid Brussels, stop by Gent and/or Antwerp and then move onto the Ardenne. Area around Geraardsbergen is nice too.
People in Gent and Antwerp are friendly. Hang around in a cafe/pub/bar and you may get offered a spare bed and shower in return for an exchange of stories and some beer.
Go easy on the beer if you’re riding the next day! And remember, only tourist drink pints, so stick with what the locals drink.
Don’t eat muscles before the new season starts (end of August usually).
If you’re on a budget, chip shops have usually decent and cheap food.
The pubs/cafes often do decent simple food too.
Thanks everyone for the advice! I will plan another route that takes in the country then. I’ve not visited Belgium much - in fact, I have only visited Brussels twice (not on a bike).
But have seen pictures from friends of other nice cities to visit, and although I might give the most touristy stuff in Brussels a miss, I was initially thinking of stopping by. There is a brewery that does fruit beers just outside Brussels that I want to check out though.
I am not after twisties, but if I’m not bumming down the motorways to do distance then ideally I’d like some nice country roads with scenery. I like old buildings, villages and towns so I was also thinking of checking out Bruges/Brugge as I’ve seen some lovely pictures of it, which I’ve been told is crap, touristy and there’s nothing there to see!? :hehe: That said, there is also a museum on Fries, which I’m quite interested in.
That looks like a good route, and will make a note of it. I might visit Geraardsbergen+area too, just looked it up on Wikipedia and they have an older Manekin Pis! I might visit Antwerp or Gent instead of Brussels then, in that case. Which would you visit and why?
I probably won’t visit Brussels, but why would you avoid it, out of curiosity? I guess I had an experience with pickpockets there on the subway 3 years ago and the traffic is a bit busy, but is there any other reason?
I was hoping to try some lambic beers, I presure they serve in half litres or something? (not had a tipple in Europe ever as I was not a drinker last time I went!)
Also, any parking arrangements I need to be aware of? Can I just park on pavements and make sure it’s not blocking the way, or will I get fined for this? Are there motorbike bays at all in the big cities?
Everybody I know that lived in Brussels love the place, but most other Belgians hate it. It’s one of those places you need to know a bit. There’s some nice things like that Grand Place, and the museum of fine arts, but you really need to know where to go for food and drink or you’ll likely be ripped off. And because it’s touristy, people aren’t as friendly and things aren’t as “cozy” like they are in the other “cities”.
Antwerp and Gent are the 2 other main “cities” in the country, but they’re towns really. But that makes them great. Because they’re important places, there’s a lot to do, but you can still walk everywhere.
If I had to choose I would choose Antwerp, but then I lived there for a while, so it’s not fair. If you like the charm of Brugge but are worried that you’ll be bored after an hour (you will be), go to Gent.
Everything in Belgium is close, so if you don’t like a place, ride for an hour and you’ll end up somewhere else.
If you ask for “pintje” (in Flanders anyway), you’ll get the lager on tap (they will only have one), and you’ll get instant respect
Just ask for the beer by it’s name and you’ll get it served in its appropriate glass (25cl or 33cl depending on the beer, never bigger!!). Remember, pubs generally don’t close as long as there’s visitors, so don’t hurry. And there’s no shame in ordering a coffee if you want a brake from the beer
Also try some of the genevers. This place is pretty good if you end up in Antwerp: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/3039
Sorry, don’t really know as I only started riding since I got here. It probably depends on the city/town.
Sounds a bit like London! albeit much smaller! I do like Brussels but think I may save it for another time.
At the moment it’s looking like we’re going to be visiting Antwerp instead of Brussels and Brugge too. It’s looking likely that we’ll do Antwerp first, and we’ll hit Brugge the next day and take our time getting there and take some backroads instead!
I know some German and as a result I can gist-read Flemish/Dutch and know a few words for getting by. The pronounciation is a bit hard but I managed to order drinks last time I had to speak Dutch
One more question - is it easy to get a Belgium/Antwerp sticker in touristy shops like it is in Brussels? Would really like one to slap onto my bike! :w00t:
I’ve ridden a 125 to Belgium, and as mentioned, you will get tangled up in the truck traffic if you take the motorways. I was in Brussels recently and observed motorbikes parked on the pavement, like much of the continent. Whether there is regulation around that I’m not sure, though I suspect it will be clear from looking at the other bikes for tickets/stickers/etc.
Yes euros and cards widely accepted, just like here. A credit card can work out cheaper than cash after bank cash charges / fees abroad… I’m registered on ADV but there’s so much content it just washes over me, so I just lurk
Just got back not long ago, and am very tired!! …but we had a fab time despite the long ride back… (7h30 excluding breaks from Brussels)
There should be some pictures attached to this post. One of the pics is Brussel’s Grand Place, another picture is the bodge job we had to do when I managed to drop the bike smashing the mirror, and the third pic is a bit of Oudenaarde.
We went through France on the quiet roads and through some quiet bits of Belgium too. Then we managed to do Brussels the next day and have dinner at Bruges! Will get a ride report written up soon, but thank you to EVERYONE who helped!! Me and my sister had a great time and we couldn’t have done without the advice!