My first trip to belgium was about five years ago. I came here to race two World Cups (Wetzikon, SUI and Heerlen, NED) and be ready for the World Championships just in case the US National Team needed me (I was 1st alternate - that year they only filled 4 of the 5 spots allocated to USA for Worlds.)
That trip was the farthest I'd ever been from home - in fact, it was the first time I had ever been to Europe! I read the brochures and travel books but I really had no idea what to expect.
The moment I arrived, i put my bike together and headed out for my first Belgian ride. The first street I hit was called N253 - it connects Leuven (where i stayed) to Tervuren. Even though this simple, winding, undulating road was filled with bad pavement, no real room for cyclists and lots of blind turns which made it a bit of a safety hazard, I was overjoyed to come across it!!! It reminded me of home - of Paradise Drive in Tiburon, CA to be precise.
At least once or twice a week, when training in California, I'd ride along Paradise Drive - a small undulating road that overlooks the San Francisco Bay . I'd use it mainly for tranquil recovery rides . As goofy as it seems, finding that stretch of road in Belgium was a sign to me that everything was going to be okay. And it was! I didn't get to race the World Champs that year, but I did place top 10 in the two World Cups!
The photo is of N253. I have since ridden it about 100 times. And just like Paradise Drive in California, every time i ride it I discover something new. On this ride, I discovered a beautiful little pond.
Coincidentally I now LIVE on the road, but on the other side of the highway from where I took this photo.