London to Brussels (via Eurostar)- 24km (15 mi) cycled
We'll call it day 0 because all we had to do was get our bikes from the shop in London to the St. Pancras train station, which was actually pretty easy with clearly signed and protected bike paths. We rode up to the station, took off our panniers (they hang the bikes up in their own car) and hopped on board. Less than 2 hours later, we arrived at Brussels Midi station. Elizabeth had her first attempt at navigator nearly foiled by Brussels' notorious lack of signposts. The late sunset and a little high school French helped us find our way.
We received a pleasant welcome from our first Warmshowers host, Mattieu, who jokingly suggested we sleep on the floor instead of the guest room for our first night because we hadn't really been cycling all that much. Mattieu and his girlfriend Anne-Lisse do a month long cycle tour each year, with Bucharest to the Black Sea up next in July. We met up with a few of their other cycling friends over delicious Belgian beers in a blues-themed bar. Talking about our new bikes, Mattieu suggested that they looked fantastic except for the handlebars. "I think you got the wrong type," he said, suggesting the more laid back, cruiser/trekker style bars. This exemplifies the difference in touring bicycles you find in the US/UK versus mainland Europe. Most Europeans favor the butterfly bars or bar ends to the drop bar, racing style handlebars we like; Mattieu was convinced that our backs would be hurting after a few days, I guess we shall see.