I love the Cycle Route Interchange Network. If you’ve never tried it, you should. As far as I know, it applies only to Flanders at the moment and you can check it out here. In Wallonia they have this different system (if you have used their network, let me know what you think).
The basic idea of the Cycle Route Interchange Network is simple. It allows you to cycle from one numbered interchange to the next one. At each interchange a green and white signpost points you in the direction of the next interchange. This leads to a much more flexible way of cycling around the countryside than by following stipulated routes. Now you can mix and match to create your own cycle route. You don’t even need a map.
Obviously before you set out, a little preparation is necessary. Go on Fietsnet, decide on your starting point and simply click the interchanges that you want to pass through. The distance is automatically calculated. Write down the numbers of the interchanges on a bit of paper, tape it to your handlebars and off you go. (However, I do recommend taking a map of the area, just in case).
All the routes I have done are excellent, and have taken me along country lanes, farm tracks, riversides and car-free cycle paths. Sometimes in village centres I had to search for the signposts, whereas in the open countryside they are more visible. What’s also great is that a lot of cycle-friendly cafés are along the routes, with bike racks, cycle maps, cycle repair kits and first aid kits should you have taken a tumble.
So what’s my favourite route? Well I love cycling along the Belgian canals, mainly because you won’t meet any hills, and very few cars. So from my home I follow interchanges 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38 and 93 which takes me into Leuven, and then I head north-west along the canal through junctions 31, 32, 28, 97, 20 … all the way to Mechelen and beyond, eventually reaching the Zennegat.
What’s your favourite route? Drop me a line and I’ll add a post. In a future post I’ll show you how to use the network to cycle out of Brussels.