Svensson has a new cycle route with BLUe: 118 km through Zeeuws Vlaanderen
Thanks to Cycling Story/Luc Vandevenne
When we recently presented the new BLUE sports center just across the border in Eede, we told you that the center wants to be there for every athlete. So also for the cyclist. Claudia and Pascal want to achieve this through bike fitting, targeted sports nutrition advice and the right muscle training. But because a cyclist prefers to sit on his bike, we have already drawn up a cycling route. 118 km along the Belgian-Dutch border and through Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.
This route takes us through the history of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. We notice how old towns are connected to each other, but are still separated by a border today. Brian van Goethem summed it up nicely when we talked about Zeeland during a conversation with him. "That's across the water," he said. “This is Flanders. ”
A lovely sun welcomes us at the BLUE sports center in Eede. If you need some supplies for the road, it's best to drop by and stock up on some sports nutrition. With a few bars in our pockets and sports drink in the water bottle we set off.
From the parking lot we turn back towards Belgium. Just before we cross the border again, we pass on the left the building where the Belgian sports nutrition producer Svensson, the company of Claudia and Pascal, who now also set up the training center BLUE, used to be located. You can quickly get an inner tube from the bicycle dealer who has moved in.
Bruges and the North Sea
After a short while we turn right onto the Schipdonk Canal. Make no mistake: first we cross the Leopold Canal and only then we turn to the right to follow the Schipdonk Canal. These 2 channels run parallel here for a long time. Where the Schipdonk Canal had an economic importance due to the connection of Kortrijk via Ghent with the North Sea, the Leopold Canal was mainly there for drainage. After all, the Dutch closed the original channels when they became independent from Belgium. Large poplars give the area its own character and provide cool shade.
After about 18 km we leave the canal near Damme. The picturesque town with its beautiful market square is well worth a visit. Then we enjoy taking the Damse canal that takes us to another picturesque town: Sluis. In an earlier life, Sergio Herman built up name and fame here, but now it is mainly a cozy place. The beautifully preserved ramparts also show the importance of Sluis in earlier times. After all, it was located on a side arm of the Scheldt, which later silted up, and formed the connection between Bruges and the North Sea.
When we arrive at the Zwin a little later, we get a nice picture of what it used to look like here. This estuary was the first connection between Bruges and the North Sea. With the silting up, the outer ports of Damme, Hoeke and Sluis were created. And again a little later the channels. It brings us to Cadzand. This former island (Kezand or sandbank) has now become a bustling seaside town and hordes of tourists flock to the wide beach during the weekend. We follow the bike path on the dike. A bicycle bell on a racing bike does not look good, but here you can use it in sunny weather. Yet it is very nice to cycle and a few kilometers after Cadzand it is already a lot quieter.
Shortly before Breskens we turn inland. We cross the Groede Podium: a collection of well-preserved bunkers that were part of the infamous Atlantikwall from World War II. Due to the heavy vegetation, the bunkers were well preserved, including original drawings of the soldiers during the war. A little further we cross the beautiful Groede. Another well-preserved town that still carries the atmosphere of the past. Then we turn north again and soon we are driving along the banks of the Western Scheldt. On the other side we see Vlissingen and in the distance we already notice some plumes of smoke from the port of Terneuzen. Although we are riding here on a bank reinforcement in concrete blocks, it is nice to cycle. But that could also be due to the tailwind.
Nature and history
In Hoofdplaat we turn inland again and via Biervliet – the name unfortunately does not live up to the promise – we drive to Hoek. We follow the road parallel to the somewhat busy Hoofdweg for about 5 kilometers, but near Hoek we dive into the quiet nature again. Meanwhile we drive past an old creek that used to make a connection to the Western Scheldt. We also come across a few border posts that here and there mark the separation between Belgium and the Netherlands. In Philippine the terraces are packed with mussel-eating Flemings. Immediately we feel a little hunger coming on and quickly put in a Svensson bar. But those mussels still looked tempting.
The Sluisbeek is literally the border between the two countries and when it turns into the Leopold Canal we know it's not far away. In Sint-Jan-in-Eremo we cross the beautiful creek area that is also a remnant of an old estuary. Finally, there is Sint-Laureins where the banks of the Leopold Canal bring us close to Eede again. A nice ride. Both in terms of the beautiful nature and the rich history that is still tangible here.