|Somewhere around Meldert|
Just crossed over the A3/E40 (again) east of Outgaarden and south of Tienen, the major city in this area though I won't see it; the LF-6 runs south of Tienen. Not only is there the highway but also the railroad, though this is not shown in my fiets atlas. Unlike at other highway overpasses, I didn't have to climb to this one; it just appeared on my left, a sturdy, rusty bridge, the deathly roar of the road below. On the other side of the bridge I find a picnic table shaded by sycamores. The day and the tour have turned out splendid. A blissful ride through fields atop a plateau with a gentle roll, the wind pushing me forward under sunny skies. I reach Hoegaarden, where they make the beer, a substantial town with a few impressive old brick buildings and a biercafe or two. Next its little sister, Outgaarden, then more fields and the highway. It's good that I took the trouble to list the knooppunten corresponding to the LF. Where the LF signs don't appear, I follow the knooppunten, and that's worked out fine.
I better keep moving: storm clouds are bunching up on the horizon.
The ride continued speedy and bracing. I knew I was coming into Limburg territory when I began to see a profusion of apple and pear trees. Also stacks of giant crates, wooden or plastic. I wondered who picked all those fruit. Then I noticed a series of day packs and shopping bags leaning against the fence, then heard foreign voices and could see a few day laborers, Romanians or Polish perhaps.
Before long I noticed 3-digit knooppunten and I was just outside Sint-Truiden. I had made good time. Too good in fact. I said I'd show up at my Vrienden op de Fiets around 7, and it was a little after 4. I found a bench in a park-like strip on the north side of town. A sign warned against drinking alcoholic beverages here. The first person I noticed was an allochton with a can of beer. Some Moroccan boys were sitting on the grass. It wasn't just allochtonen. There were various blonde Belgians as well. But they didn't linger--they were on their way somewhere.
|Leuven to Sint Truiden via LF-6|
I made myself a tuna sandwich and then checked my email (free ambient wifi in Sint-Truiden). Briggite Bruggers in Nijmegen told me she had no room on Monday night. I then sent off 3 more Vrienden op de Fiets requests to Nijmegen and got one acceptance--from a certain Mirjam Rodolphus.
|Sint-Truiden, in kermis mode|
My Vrienden op de Fiets hosts in Sint-Truiden, Marisse and Johan, were quite representative of the town's population. Big cheerful middle-class people without the slightest interest in anything ''alternative." She handles the kitchen and ministers to the guest, he sits in front of the TV to get filled in on this week's disaster--now it's floods in Hawaii--and fiddles with his tablet. There's an RV in the yard and they've got a border collie--the second one I've seen this trip. They are the only VoF'ers in Sint-Truiden though, and I'm glad they're here. Continued...