Svensson has a new bicycle route with BLUe: 118 km through Zeeland Flanders
With thanks to Wielerverhaal/Luc VandevenneWhen we recently presented the new BLUE sports centre just across the border in Eede, we told you that the centre wants to be there for every athlete. So also for the cyclist. Claudia and Pascal want to achieve this through bikefitting, specific sports nutrition advice and the right muscle training. But because a cyclist likes to be on his bike most of the time, we have already mapped out 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 linked together but are now separated by a border. Brian van Goethem summed it up nicely when we talked to him about Zeeland. "That's across the water," he said. "
A lovely sunshine welcomes us at the BLUE sports centre in Eede. Those who still need some supplies for the road should drop in and buy some sports food. With some bars in our pockets and sports drinks in our bidon we're on our way.
From the parking lot we turn towards Belgium. Just before crossing the border again, we pass the building on the left where the Belgian sports nutrition producer Svensson, the company of Claudia and Pascal who now also set up the BLUE training centre, used to be located. You can quickly get an inner tube from the bicycle dealer who has moved in.
Brugge and the North Sea
After a short while we turn right into the Schipdonk Canal. Make no mistake: first we cross the Leopold Canal and only then do we turn right to follow the Schipdonk Canal. These 2 canals run parallel to each other here for a long time. - Whereas the Schipdonk Canal had an economic importance because of its connection of Kortrijk with the North Sea via Ghent, the Leopold Canal was mainly for drainage purposes. When Belgium gained its independence, the Dutch closed off the original canals. Large poplars give the area its own character and provide a cool shade.
After some 18 km, we leave the canal near Damme. The picturesque town with the beautiful market square is more than worth a visit. After that we enjoy taking the Damse Vaart which brings us to another picturesque town: Sluis. In a former life, Sergio Herman made a name for himself here, but nowadays it's mainly a cosy mess. The beautifully preserved ramparts also show the importance of Sluis in former times. After all, it was situated 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 good idea of how it used to look here. This estuary was Bruges' first connection with the North Sea. When it silted up, the outer harbours of Damme, Hoeke and Sluis appeared. And a little later the canals. It brings us to Cadzand. This former island (Kezand or sandbank) has now become a bustling seaside resort and at the weekend, a horde of tourists flock to its wide beach. We follow the cycle path on the dyke. A bike bell doesn't look good on a racing bike, but here you can use it in sunny weather. Still, it's very nice to cycle and a few kilometres after Cadzand it's already a lot quieter.
Shortly before Breskens, we turn inland. We cross the Groede Podium: a collection of well preserved bunkers which were part of the infamous Atlantikwall from the 2nd World War. Because of the heavy vegetation, the bunkers have been well preserved, including original drawings of the soldiers during the war. A little further on, we pass through beautiful Groede. Another well-preserved town that still retains the atmosphere of the past. Then we turn north again and soon we are riding along the banks of the Westerschelde. On the other side we can see Vlissingen and in the distance we can already see some smoke plumes from the port of Terneuzen. Although we are riding on a bank reinforced with concrete blocks, it is nice cycling.
In Hoofdplaat we turn inland again and via Biervliet - the name doesn't live up to its promise - we cycle to Hoek. For about 5 km we follow the road parallel to the busy Hoofdweg, but near Hoek we dive back into the quiet countryside. Meanwhile, we're passing an old creek that used to connect to the Westerschelde estuary. We also come across some border poles that mark the division between Belgium and the Netherlands. In Philippine, the terraces are packed with Flemish mussel-eaters. Immediately, we also feel a slight hunger coming on and we quickly eat a Svensson bar. But those mussels looked tempting.
The Sluisbeek is literally the border between the two countries and when it becomes the Leopold Canal, we know it is not far. In Sint-Jan-in-Eremo we cross the beautiful creek area which again is a remnant of an old sea arm. Finally, there is Sint-Laureins where the banks of the Leopold Canal bring us close to Eede again. A beautiful ride. Both in terms of beautiful nature and the rich history that is still tangibly present here.