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Rule number one of watershed awareness:

Know where you are on the map!

Fortunately, here in Belgium, they have maps sporadically posted all across the country side.

Technically, they are for biking – it’s called the “Velo Tour” – but the detail on the maps is so finely rendered and fun to look at, I’ve been having trouble pulling myself away (when I find them) to continue pedaling.

Part of this I will admit is my hesitancy to choose the wrong path.

But the truth is, even when I am lost (and it’s happened before), I always run into another one of these maps, which I stop and stare at for moments on end, before setting back off in the direction the arrow points me toward.

The only thing the maps don’t show are hills.

They are plentiful in this part of Belgium, in some cases bottomless, and in all cases: usually show up by surprise.

I’ll be pedaling along merrily, lost in thought, on a windy scenic stretch of road (thinking about those “maps!”), when all of a sudden the surface tilts down and the bike accelerates into the gravitational pull of the valley below …

Down … down … down … still more down:

Yes, it’s fun … and easy (my legs finally get a break), but it’s hard to enjoy the “free” ride, when I know at the bottom there will be a price to pay.

You see: I am riding loops.

That means I have to “pedal up” the same height that I “drift down.”

For me that makes the drudgery of riding up a hill a joyful experience.

On a bike in Belgium, you need multiple gears … and you’ll use them all.

The one thing you don’t need, however, is a map.

They are as plentiful as the hills.

As for the flat spots?

I found one of those the other day,
but it didn’t last long:

Before long I was picking up speed into the valley below.

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