Omaha beach, Normandy, France to Maastricht

Day 146 – Thursday 16/09
Colleville-sur-Mer to Merville – 100kms Total 7788kms

After we said goodbye to Gunther we got on the coastal road and headed East. We visited a few bunkers and other memorials on the way.
All in all it was a good day cycling with a good tailwind.
Camping at Merville is OK

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Panoramic view of Arromanches and whats left of the portable docks that were used for the invasion. Click to view larger.

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Memorial to Charles De Gaulle at Juno Beach.

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One of many bunkers along the coast.

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Stopped for lunch near Benouville and was mobbed by a gang of ducks. The ones on the picture were the first wave.

Day 147 – Friday 17/09
Merville to Pont – Audemer – 96kms Total 7884kms

Last night it rained real hard with a very strong wind but by morning it was calm and because of the strong wind the tent was dry.
Riding along the coast today we had to get over two big hills to get to Villers-sur-Mer were he stopped for lunch and enjoy the Ocean a bit before we turned inland at Deauville and another long hill on the D74.
A bit later while climbing yet another hill (just before Beuzeville) we stopped to catch our breath an Audi station wagon pulls up and out comes Gunter again. Wow what a surprise it was real nice to see him again. He was on the way to Aachen, Germany and just happened to be on the same road. He also gave us a couple of bottles of water, great guy hope he keeps in touch.
Camping here is good.

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One last view of the North sea before heading inland. Click to view larger.

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Looking for directions.

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A new area Departement de l’Eure.

Day 148 – Saturday 18/09
Pont – Audemer to St. Leger du Bourg Denis – 108kms Total 7992kms

What a day again. We started with a longish hill out of one valley and into the Seine valley. The ride was mostly good going through rural roads with hardly any traffic. But soon afterwards we tired of it and we got on the busy D982 at Duclair and rode it into Rouen.
We tried to find the municipal camping at Deville but it was closed so after some searching we found one at St.Leger on the other side of a very busy city.
Camping here is very primitive, but the pizzeria in the village is very good 😉

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Breaking camp on a beautiful September morning.

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One of many picturesque villages we passed today.

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Pont de Brotonne bridge.

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On the La Seine heading to Rouen.

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We were surprised to sea such a huge ship navigating the La Seine.

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Rouen.

Day 149 – Sunday 19/09
St. Leger du Burg Denis to Poix-de-Picardie – 103kms Total 8095kms

We got up to a very cold and misty morning. Our fingers were freezing trying to roll up the tent. Today we knew that it would be another long day on the busy D919, but we smell home now and just want to ride. Another milestone was reached today, this is the first time we’ve ever cycled over 8000kms in one go what an achievement.
Even though the road is almost dead straight it does have quite a few hills and it wore us down. By the time we reached the camping we were pretty tired.
Before we got on the D919 we stopped at a couple of WWI British cemeteries and at one we were really touched to see a note with a wooden cross and picture on one grave from the great great grandson of the man paying his respects.
But along the busy D919 there wasn’t much to see just a long road.
Camping here is OK for a one night stop.

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The nice quiet road early in the morning.

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Our view for most of the day just endless fields.

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Taking a breather.

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Once in a while we came across a nice chateau.

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And more open fields.

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Another Chateau.

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Another Departement.

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And one more Chateau. Today was just one very long if a bit boring ride.

Day 150 – Monday 20/09
Poix-de-Picardie to Peronne – 96kms Total 8181kms

Today the plan was to go around the city of Amiens. We first thought of visiting but the smell of home is strong now and we just want to get there.
After breaking camp we got on the D920 and headed east. We tried to stay on the smallest roads as much as possible.
The countryside stays the same around here, rolling hills and farmland mostly. There were many battles around here during WWI and there is evidence throughout the area. Mainly in the form of small cemeteries and memorials, both from the allied and axis sides.
The municipal camping here is cheap and basic ok I guess for a night.

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In high spirits early in the morning.

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Beautiful church near Amiens.

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On the D920 heading East.

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Yesterday was open road and Chateaus, today its open road and beautiful churches. After WWI and WWII we can imagine people around here turn to religion.

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After a while we finally made it to the La Somme.

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And the proof 🙂

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Long evening shadows before reaching our campsite.

Day 151 – Tuesday 21/09
Peronne to Maubeuge – 103kms Total 8284kms

Got up at our normal time, broke camp and headed eastward on the D6 direction Roisel and finally Nauroy where the busy and almost dead straight D932 begins.
Before getting on the D932 is was a nice ride, again with a lot of reminders of the great war. Once on the D932 it was just doing kms and watching out for the huge trucks that passed us. I should say that the majority of the truckers were very well behaved, but it was just not a pleasant ride sharing the road with these huge machines.
The last 20 or so kilometers before Maubeuge we rode through this very nice Foret de Mormal which was a nice finish to the days ride.
We had seen on the internet the other day that there was a bicycle path along the Sambre which flows past Charleroi and onto Namur. We will try to find this cycling path tomorrow.
The camping here is the smelliest of all on this tour. It was downwind from a field that was just fertilized, lol
The camping itself was ok for the night.

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Another beautiful fall day.

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Views from the road.

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Taking a breather.

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On the D932.

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On the D932 and yet another Departement.

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The nice and quiet end to the days ride.

Day 152 – Wednesday 22/09
Maubeuge to Namen, Belgium – 116kms Total 8400kms

Today really turned out to be a day of contrasts. We broke camp and were on the road by 09:00. We headed back a few kms to the center of town, found the Sambre and the cycling path next to it after a few minutes of searching. We were pleasantly surprised to find a well paved car free path.
The ride was very nice and peaceful for most of the way to Charleroi. There were only a few rough sections but it was mostly due to the cycling path being improved.
In Charleroi it all changed, it is difficult to describe the view of these old, dilapidated and rusty factories along this cycling path. The scene was one from a Hollywood post nuclear holocaust movie. It took a while but with the help of a few locals we found our way out of this city and back on the cycling path along the Sambre.
The long day, along with the breaks we took and getting through Charleroi meant we didn’t reach Namen until 19:00 very tired and without a clue as to where the camping was so we decided to splurge a bit and get a room for our last night on the road.
We know the road from here to Maastricht as we’ve ridden it a couple of times already going the opposite direction. After washing up we went out for a nice diner and drinks before we went back to the hotel.

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Finally a car free cycling path.

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A real pleasure after such a long time sharing the road with huge trucks and speeding cars.

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The really rough area in Charleroi, Belgium, avoid at all costs.

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Back on the Sabre just before Namen (Namur) in French.

Day 153 – Thursday 23/09
Namen to Maastricht – 112kms for the Grand total of 8512kms

Got up early today, we did not get much sleep last night we thought it was nerves. We did not waste much time getting ready and after our morning rituals we got underway.
We crossed the river Maas, got on the cycling path and headed downriver toward Liege. As we neared Liege we ran into problems because we decided to stay on the eastern bank and ended up getting into heavy industry which made it a bit hairy. It didn’t last long and soon we were in the center of Liege and pretty much put the bikes on autopilot and cycled the last 25 kilometers along the Albert canal to Eijsted and finally the last 10 kilometers to Maastricht.
It was real nice to cycle back down the same street were we had departed on Wednesday 28 April.
Femke our daughter and Monique’s sister Liselotte were waiting for us and we had a nice and emotional homecoming.
It felt great to be back home.

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Early morning on the Maas river right after Namen.

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The quiet cycling path along the river.

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Taking a breather.

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The morning cold mist is finally breaking up.

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The Maas river near Liege, Belgium.

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The gray cone on the left of the picture is the Belgian, Dutch border post.

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On the cycling path near Maastricht.

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Finally home again.

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Enjoying a well deserved beer.

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We had truly enjoyed this mega tour.

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Diner with Liselotte and Leo, Monique’s dad, Femke our daughter was taking the picture.

Click here for the Epilogue.