Sunday 10 June 2018
This was our planned route for the day:
In fact, even before we set off from Kempen we had adjusted today’s route slightly. This is because cycling chum Gert who lives near Haarksbergen told us that there were roadworks and road closures and sent us an alternative track; this was 2km longer so would give us 107km for the day, so one of our longer days.
We slept well and breakfasted with Roef before heading off at about nine in the morning. He took a couple of pics of us as we were leaving:
It was pretty quiet outside (it was a Sunday morning) and we made our way through Nijmegen without too much trouble but it was slow. This is partly because we weren’t always sure where to go with the cycle paths, whether to cross the road etc, but mainly because it is extremely difficult to reach the traffic light button for bikes when sitting in a Velomobile.
So it was slow going through Nijmegen; our average speed was probably around 18 km/h for the first ten or so kilometres. This kind of riding is very tiring for me as I find accelerations hard work. I felt my knees today!
We joined the cycle route to Arnhem which Klaus had ridden a couple of months ago. It’s great!
And a view down to the river Waal and looking back at Nijmegen.
From my perspective as a Milan rider the Dutch cycle paths are a mixed blessing. They are mostly OK, but they can make life tricky as they assume you are riding a normal bike with a standard turning circle but if you’re in something like a Milan with a 14 metre turning circle it’s not always possible to get around the corners that they force you to do with kerbs either side of the narrow path. We had several occasions today where I had to shuffle back and forward to get around a corner.
But then at other times you have ten kilometres of bike paths like this:
Another issue with touring in the Netherlands is that my cake radar which is very effective in Germany just doesn’t work in the Netherlands. This means that if I feel it’s about time for a tea and cake stop, I might have zero success finding somewhere suitable. In Germany I can pretty much always find something.
We hadn’t passed any open cafes at all, even passing Arnhem. Then as we came down from a dike I noticed the Golden Arches. Not my favourite, but at least with McDonalds you can get some tea and cake and a loo. So we headed that way.
As I arrived it looked awfully familiar. Yes, once again I had arrived at Hotel Gieling in Duiven. I had visited this for work years ago (and at that time the McDonalds was shut as it had burned down in a fire!) and then on my Berlin to London trip I couldn’t find a hotel in Arnhem and ended up being sent to one which turned out to be Gieling (and they still had my details on their database). Once again I was next door, although I didn’t stay in the hotel this time!
We refreshed ourselves suitably, including lots of water as it was 25 degrees outside and we were thirsty after 35km.
Then it was time to continue, suitably fortified.
We were heading east now, no longer on cycle paths but this time on quiet country roads. Now we were able to speed up a bit as it takes me a while to wind my speed up to 30 but can sit at that speed relatively comfortably. Continual stop and start kills me! We had nice long roads with 5km before a junction, so we were going well and really enjoying the scenery. There are lots more dairy cattle in the Netherlands, quite a lot of goats and sheep, and of course lots of birds.
Our speedy progress reduced a bit as we went round the outskirts of Doetinchem. Here we had a minor navigational issue which meant we struggled to get onto the cycle path and ended up stuck in the middle of a road trying to cross it. My nose was right forward into the path of the cars and they just swerved round me rather than stopping to let me go across; in this situation in the UK the generally bike-unfriendly cars would let me go, a surprising difference.
It took a while to clear Doetinchem and my knees were discussing the issue with me a bit but eventually we popped out the other side and were able to increase the speed again.
We started thinking about food when we arrived in Zelhem at one o’clock as there were lots of cafes with people sitting outside. I felt I could ride on a bit longer but we realised we didn’t know if we would find any other lunch stops on our route so decided to stop and eat there. My Mum always says “never pass an oasis” (although she is usually referring to loos) so we stopped at what turned out to be a very pleasant eaterie.
We had a leisurely lunch as we had just 43km to go and were meant to arrive after 5pm. I contacted our Vrienden op de Fiets host, saying we might be half an hour earlier, and they said that was fine, we could come when we wanted.
So we set off in the warm afternoon sunshine.
It was again easy riding as we were mostly on quiet lanes rather than cycle paths beside busy roads. We made good progress, riding at between 27 and 30 for most of the time.
The final 500 metres was surprisingly semi off-road. There was a bike path of compacted earth which was just wide enough for us but a bit bumpy. We were glad we didn’t have several kilometres of this, but we soon arrived at our Vrienden op de Fiets host and discovered we had our own little granny annexe with bedroom, lounge/kitchen, bathroom and patio outside. It was most handy to have a washing line outside for our cycle clothing after we had washed it in the shower.
The total distance for the day was 106.6km at an average speed of 22.1 km/h.
We had had a decent lunch so we didn’t need to have much in the evening. This is because we were going to visit Gert, who lives just 7km away from where we were staying. I have met him several times, including LEL and HBKH audaxes where I was helping, plus at Dronten when he was working on his new Quattrovelo.
Gert had sent us a route so we just had to follow the purple line until we arrived at his house. We had a look at his Quattrovelo (the version with a child seat) and he looked at Humphrey. He discussed additional ways of soundproofing and then spotted that something was loose in Humphrey’s innards so he and Klaus got out their tools and fixed whatever it was.
When all was completed we sat down for a cup of tea and a chat.
As with most velomobilists, the conversation soon turns to tyre choice. It is always interesting to get the opinions of audaxers as they certainly test tyres significantly. Gert swears by the Scorchers but at 60 euros a pop they’re not exactly a bargain option! He also gave advice on the suspension settings on the Quattrovelo.
It was lovely to catch up with him again, and to meet his wife and children, and to spend a relaxing evening in the garden. Gert has also supplied us with a small alternative to our routing tomorrow which misses out the slow and awkward bit going through Enschede; my knees will be very grateful!
We were back to our lodging by 9:30pm. The washing wasn’t quite dry so we had to move it indoors and rigged up our washing line between two dining rooom chairs. Cycle tourists can be resourceful!
Tomorrow we are heading to Hardenberg and will go very close to Germany in the Nordhorn area. It’s another 100km day but hopefully on good roads again, and the weather is a bit cooler so that should make it more comfortable. But we’re really enjoying ourselves!