It took me a while to work this out – in fact, I think someone pointed it out rather than me doing any thinking – but you may (or may not) have wondered why the EuroVelo numbers go from route 1 (the Atlantic Coast Route) to route 17 (the Rhone Cycle Route) but that there are actually only 15 routes. Routes 14 and 16 don’t exist. Curious, no?
Well, the simple answer is that the odd numbers are routes that run predominately north-south, and the even numbers are those that run predominantly east-west. This system worked fine for a while but more recently it has become problematic as north-south routes seem to be more popular than east-west routes. Hence the non-existent (for the time being) routes 14 and 16. I’m almost tempted to devise a route that runs along an almost perfect 45º angle across Europe just to see what those in charge at the European Cyclists’ Federation would do…
Why is all this relevant? Well, I note that today, the aforementioned ECF have announced the arrival of another non-existent route. Route 18! OK, they didn’t quite do that. What they did do is announce the arrival of the EuroVelo 19: The Meuse Cycle Route. It is at this point that I pause and ask you to watch a video from 2010, digitally remastered for 2019…
That’s me, Andrew P. Sykes, author of Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie, crossing Europe on, err… a bike called Reggie. It had been a very wet day in July 2010 and this is what I wrote later about my cycle along the Meuse river in France:
Suddenly the clouds blackened and my road descended steeply into the valley. It was almost as if Mother Nature herself had told her minions to put on a show to impress. And I was. As I cycled along the road the rain pelted down. Arriving in the valley bottom there were flash floods with me struggling to cycle through currents of water. It was great! And so was the scenery; the bland rolling hills had been replaced with one dramatic steep sided valley with a monster of a river in the bottom; The Meuse, my new best friend, which didn’t fail to impress as I continued my ride along its banks all the long, winding way to Charleville-Mézières itself. I later posted a sentence to the blog that summed up what an invigorating end it had been to a very, very wet day; The adventure started today!
Along the river I had been cycling La Voie Verte Trans-Ardennes, a cycle route that starts in Givet further up the valley and continues for 85 kilometres all the way to Charleville-Mézières. I had joined the path at a curve on the river where the town of Revin had been built. There are plans to extend the route further south into the Ardennes département and if they make it only half as good as the bit that currently exists, they will be doing a fine job. Its beauty, apart from having a magnificent setting, is that is not a shared space between cars and bikes. It’s just for bikes and pedestrians. It looks a bit like a road as there is a white line down the middle and you need to keep to the right as there is cycling traffic coming in the other direction. The name voie verte, incidentally or green track is well chosen and increasingly used in France to describe purpose built cycle paths that are not simply a cordoned off strip along a normal road. Well done to the French!
So, back in 2010 I was clearly impressed with what, nine years later, was set to become part of EuroVelo 19: The Meuse Cycle Route. Time, perhaps, to hear from the ECF:
“EuroVelo 19 is a long-distance cycle route of over 1,100 km, crossing three countries: France, Belgium and The Netherlands, while following the Meuse River from its source on the Langres plateau (northern France) to its mouth on the Dutch North Sea. The inauguration of this route marks a significant development for the EuroVelo network, as it is only the fourth new route to be added to the network since it was first launched back in 1995.”