The following beer was drunk on the weekend but is only representative of the two huge ones Karsten bought at the shop before we watched Paris-Roubaix in our aparthotel. No photos were taken, probably because our hands were full with our kebabs.
But long before we dug into our merguez and bike race, we headed out for one last ride; this time straight out from Lille into Flanders again and a bit of Wallonie, too, if the language on the shop signs were any indication.
It was a totally flat ride on a cold, sunny Sunday. Yes, sunny – here’s the proof. Below is one of two German military cemeteries that we passed by, which sort of astonished me, although I suppose it shouldn’t have. They were both from ‘The Great War’, of course.
Once in Belgium we were ready for a coffee and the place below looked like our kind of joint. Actually, when we arrived there were only a handful of bikes outside, but by the time my coffee filter had stopped dripping (it was more of a beer establishment, we quickly found out, and a request for a ‘café crème‘ landed on dead eyes), a full crew of men-of-a-certain-age, pot-bellied and kitted up for their Sunday outing, joined us.
This bar has a really really long cable lock in the back room and the riders immediately beelined for it and efficiently wired it through all their bikes, somehow managing not to lock ours with them (they are hidden in the mess below).
All this was happening at around 11 am or even before and guess what what was already on the tube inside – Paris-Roubaix. Belgium could be a dream place for me if it wasn’t for the weather I keep hearing about…and maybe the omnipresence of potatoes.
After the ride, kebab and race, the three of us walked over to one of Shoko’s hideouts from the drizzle when she was living up here last year – Notting Hill Coffee, a local Lille franchise, named to attract the EuroStar crowd, I’m guessing.
And then it was time for our trains: one to Paris and the other to Le Sud. Notice the smiles and the lack of rain still. Long weekends in Le Nord don’t get much better than this.