Nope, I haven’t bought a new Velomobile. But Klaus has!
Here is the tale of our two trips to Dronten in NL where most Velomobiles seem to be born.
Dronten by car
Last year I took Penelope to Ligfietsshop Tempelman for her annual service of the Rohloff hub and a general checkup. Gerritt Tempelman did an excellent job and his price was extremely reasonable so I decided then that I wouldn’t bother trying to do it myself (less well) but would bring Penelope back to him.
The trip to Dronten this year was planned to coincide with another major event – Klaus would be collecting his new velomobile. As explained in January’s blog, after trying out a few velomobiles he decided to order a white Strada from Velomobiel.nl and the delivery date was eventually confirmed for 9 March. So a plan was hatched to collect the Strada and ride the 200km back home afterwards. Obviously I needed a velomobile to ride back in so we decided to deliver Penelope the week before for her service, then collect her and the new Strada, stay overnight near Dronten and then set off back to Kempen/Viersen early the next morning.
So anyway, the Saturday before this planned trip I borrowed the VW bus from my landlord again and, with Penelope squeezed on board, collected Klaus for the two hour drive to Dronten.
Here she is with a cardboard box behind filled with all her accessories – batteries, floor mats, tools, spare tyre, Versatile roof, hats and buffs, sunglasses etc. I realised I seem to be carrying around 8kg of extra weight when I am riding Penelope. But I need most of those things!
We arrived in Dronten and went first to Ligfietsshop Tempelman to deliver Penelope.
It’s always interesting to see what velomobile and bikes he has there.
This blue Versatile had been in a collision with a pedestrian who ended up sitting on its nose – that looks rather tricky to repair!
Here is Penelope in the shop waiting for her service.
As we had driven along the road towards Dronten we saw a cyclist on a two-wheeled recumbent whizzing along the cycle path. As we were chatting to Gerritt Tempelman in the shop the cyclist appeared with a Greenmachine to be serviced – and surprised me by saying “Hello Helen!” I didn’t recognise him but it turns out he has been reading this blog and recognised me and my velomobile. Hello to Edwin, good to meet you!!!
After a good chat with Gerritt Tempelman we headed off round the corner to Velomobiel.nl to deliver a cable for Klaus’s new Strada (which would not yet be there). Klaus had sourced a light tower with a static green, rotating yellow and flashing red light which he wanted them to fit on the Strada and he had needed a special cable which, rather than posting, he decided to hand deliver as he was interested in visiting Velomobiel.nl. When we arrived I think they were briefly a bit worried that we thought we were collecting the new Strada (as this was the original delivery date) but we explained soon enough that we were just dropping in as we had been delivering Penelope.
I had a good look at the new QuattroVelo, a four-wheeled Velomobile with a dog seat or luggage space at the back. Hmmmmmmm….
We had a good chat with Theo whilst we were there. There were several Velomobiles on a rack high up in the building including this Strada which was a rather lovely colour, very close to the Bianchi blue which is called Celeste.
This Strada was on their list as immediately available and we both agreed it was a lovely colour.
After a half an hour nosing around it was time to head back to Germany so we were on our way, looking forward to returning six days later to collect Klaus’s new velomobile, pick up Penelope and then ride the 200km back…
Dronten by train
So Klaus had booked a day off work on Friday 11 March for this trip. This meant that we would ride back on Saturday but if we had bike problems and couldn’t manage the 200km we also had Sunday.
On Wednesday, the day that the Strada body would be delivered to Velomobiel.nl, he decided to telephone them to check everything was OK. Disaster!! The white Strada had not been on the transporter from Romania.
Klaus had two options – wait a week for the white Strada body to arrive (which meant that we would have to pay for the two hotel rooms we had booked as it was too late to cancel, I would need to be without Penelope for another week, he would have to try to get the following Friday off work) or take one of the current in-stock Stradas, in yellow, orange or Celeste. It took him just a few moments to decide that the Celeste Strada had been such a nice colour and he would happily take that one, with a few other goodies thrown in for free because of the inconvenience.
So our trip for Friday 11th was still on. Klaus arranged the train tickets for us and we did some very light packing, knowing we would have to bring everything back with us.
Klaus also bought some walkie talkies – these are useful with velomobiles as it is harder to talk to each other as they can be a bit noisier inside. My job was to get the batteries for them. We had checked the sticker inside the battery compartment and it said AA.
So of course, having bought 16 AA batteries, when I arrived at Klaus’s house Friday morning ready to head to the station, we discovered they actually take AAA batteries. So Klaus dashed off to Aldi whilst I was having a cuppa and the day was saved.
Claudia gave us a lift to Viersen station.
I was weighed down with food supplies for our ride the next day – nuts, yoghurts, bananas, water, babybel, bruschetta… we knew we would need to regularly refuel underway and as I’m not eating sugar and Klaus doesn’t eat many carbohydrates it can be a bit tricky to find suitable things underway.
I had originally assumed we would do the route Viersen – Venlo – Nijmegen – Zwolle – Dronten but Klaus had booked through Deutsche Bahn and that was one fewer change, Viersen – Duisburg – Amsterdam Centraal – Dronten. It also meant I would have my first ever trip on a German ICE train.
We arrived at Duisburg and had a half hour wait (which ended up as 40 minutes as the ICE train was delayed) so bought a cup of tea, Klaus bought some sweets (he is addicted to Haribo) and I bought a fruit salad (my only legal sugar this lent).
We got on the ICE train and it was comfortable enough except… our carriage was full of English football fans who had been at the Borussia Dortmund vs Tottenham Hotspur match.
Their accents were wonderfully London but the conversation wasn’t very edifying and they were waving their phones around in the air comparing different porn photos, talking loudly about how weird Germans were etc. I spoke only German to Klaus to make sure they didn’t spot the Englishwoman hiding away in the corner. Unfortunately they travelled the whole way to Amsterdam. Klaus kept saying to me “Sie sind so peinlich!!!” He had a point!
From Amsterdam we hopped on a slow local train to Dronten, heading out onto the Flevoland island. The landscape was very different than our bit of Niederrhein – fewer trees, wider spaces (and Niederrhein is wide anyway), not so many dwellings. The forecasted sunny day wasn’t quite what we experienced, it was more cloudy and misty, but not too cold and it was still great to look out of the window at the passing scenery.
When we got to Dronten we saw the industrial estate where the velomobiles are and then tried to gauge how far it was to the station from there. Too far was our conclusion… Walking in SPD clickshoes is not particularly comfortable and I was carrying the heavy coolbag of food too. Never mind, my original plan had been to take a taxi.
So we alighted from the train, went to the taxi stand (that was empty) and I phoned the taxi firm number which was stuck onto the taxi rank post. “You will have to wait for an hour!” Yikes!
Klaus had been studying the bus map and thought that the bus 22 might do the trick. There was a bus at the stand, it was a 22 so I got on and asked the driver if he went anywhere near De Gouwe (where Ligfietsshop Tempelman is). He sucked his teeth, thought about it a bit, consulted his phone and said “yes!” so we got on board. We paid 3€ each for our tickets.
The bus headed off and after what felt like about 3 minutes we realised we were right near the industrial estate. The bus stopped and the driver peered round the partition at us, to say it was time to get off. 6€ for two people felt a bit steep for such a short journey, but there you go. A taxi would have been more!
We had to walk about 250 metres to get to the shop and I was glad we hadn’t walked the whole way as I had clothing suitable for velomobile riding but not walking in the open air and was a bit chilly by the time we arrived at Tempelmans.
And there was Penelope, with her hub gear serviced, the rear swing arm with some new parts (some kind of bush I think) and some fresh paint on the black lower bit as it had got a bit scratched after my two chums rolled her!
We chatted to Gerritt a bit, paid his exceptionally reasonable bill (again under 100€), packed Penelope’s chattels back into her and then it was time to go round the corner to collect the new velomobile…
And here she was!
Klaus took her for a short spin around the block to check that everything was OK. Whilst he was there I took the opportunity to see if I could get in and out of a QuattroVelo. The answer appears to be yes, so I am seriously considering adding my name to the orderlist. There’s a space for a dog in there!!!
Klaus returned very happy with his new velomobile. There were a few last things to be done and then we were ready to head off to our B&B which was 20km away in Elburg.
Here’s a short video I took on the way – slightly tricky to film with the Versatile roof on, plus a rather bumpy cycle track!
it was Klaus’s first proper bit of riding in his new velomobile and he was sensibly careful around the corners as he was not yet used to the steering behaviour of the Strada and didn’t want to roll it, but we made reasonable progress and he felt very comfortable in his new machine.
Bed and Breakfast De Zwanebloem turned out to be a wonderful little place, two rooms as part of a farmyard. I had chosen it because it had got a very good satisfaction score on Booking.com and was very good value. We arrived and the lady showed us in after her Bernese Mountain Dogs had barked hello and looked surprised at our bikes.
My room (with kitchen) was 55€ for the night including breakfast.
Klaus’s room (without kitchen but still with coffee making facilities and a fridge) was 52,50€.
He had an en-suite but my bathroom was across the shared hall which might have been a bit weird if the other people staying in the B&B were entirely unknown to you at the time and you bumped into them in the night.
The landlady then returned with some apple turnovers for us. Due to it being Lent Klaus was able to eat them both as I eschewed mine. Lucky chap!
The rooms also had lots of Easter Egg choccies so I collected them up for fuel for Klaus for the next day’s ride (plus perhaps for me to have after Easter).
There were also four small packs of Pringles which looked like they might come in handy on our journey the next day.
I was actually a bit cold when we arrived as I had got a bit sweaty on the 20km ride and was wearing a normal cotton t-shirt rather than cycling shirt, so I changed into my cycling top that I had planned to wear the next day for our trip a bit later to Elburg town to find some food.
But first it was time to have a good look at the new velomobile and do some photography.
Klaus has much better photography skills than me and took these four pics.
He had wondered about moving the seat slightly further back and we saw a way of doing it but discovered that our toolkits weren’t ideal so didn’t risk it.
We decided to cycle into Elburg for dinner and headed there. It is a fascinating old town as you can see from the track – there’s kind of a square of canal around it.
We stopped at an Italian restaurant which looked very cosy but perhaps a bit upmarket for me in my cycling gear. But they made us welcome and we had some good food and Klaus celebrated his new purchase with some wine.
I had persuaded him to give a name to his Wild One trike (“Killer”) and so of course said he needed to name the new Velomobile. The obvious name, due to its colour, was Celeste. So Celeste she became!
Here is Celeste parked outside the Italian restaurant with Penelope’s striplights casting a red glow.
Elburg to Kempen by bike
The day dawned beautifully!
I had slept well and was looking forward to the very challenging ride. The breakfast tray appeared at 7am in the hallway of the B&B.
I took it into my room which had the kitchen table and laid it all out.
A very generous amount of food including, in the paper bag, two almond croissants.
Klaus appeared and we enjoyed the breakfast – he was the lucky recipient of both orange juices (sugar in Lent) but as he doesn’t eat much carbohydrate I was able to use two rolls to make sandwiches for later on in our ride.
The sun was getting higher in the sky and the mist was burning off a little.
At 8:30am we were ready to set off. Celeste had spent the night in the bike shed but there wasn’t room for both velomobiles so I decided that Penelope, who is a bit long in the tooth (nearly 10 years old), could cope with a night on the tiles.
She looked very frosty!
Celeste still looked fine after her night under cover.
Klaus was faffing about putting his stuff in Celeste (I am more experienced with distributing luggage around a velomobile) so I said I would ride round to the B&B Owner’s door and pay our bills. So I released the parking brake and moved off… very slowly. The parking brake was stuck on. Frozen!
We fetched the hairdryer from my room and moved Penelope as close as possible to the door to the B&B so that an electric socket was in reach. Klaus heated up my rear drum brake and cable and soon it released. Phew! Not a particularly auspicious start!
I rode round to the landlady and paid our very reasonable bill (107,50€) and said how much we had liked the rooms and enjoyed the breakfast. Next time I do an overnight Dronten trip I will definitely try to book there again!
Then it was truly time to set off, to head the 210km to Viersen or 200km to Kempen.
Here is our track for the day.
And here is the elevation profile of our ride.
The weather was beautiful as we set off along the dike towards Zwolle.
I did notice, however, that my heart rate was rather high at 160bpm when just riding along the dike. In the end I spoke to Klaus through the walkie talkie and said I needed to slow down a bit – it is not good to do too much work at the beginning of a long ride as you can get exhausted too easily. I guess it was my body trying to do the work of digesting the excellent breakfast as well as cycling…
My camera focused on the wrong thing here but you can see my frosty roof and the fuzzy Strada ahead of me, the view I would have for a lot of the day.
Very early on when cycling over a bridge that crossed a major road we decided to do a roll test. This means you stop side-by-side at the top of a hill and just let the bike/velomobile roll down to see how the speed compares. We often do this on the trikes – I tend to accelerate quicker but Klaus then catches up and overtakes when the route levels out. The velomobiles were much closer matched on the way down with me perhaps edging ahead by a gnat’s whisker but when we got onto the flat the Strada rolled about 20 metres further before finally stopping, but we went a very long way without a single pedal stroke.
Klaus is a stronger rider than me and that was definitely apparent right from the beginning. I had had almost two weeks off riding due to visiting the UK etc and my legs did not feel very good energy-wise which was unfortunate at the start of such a long ride. I also found very quickly that I needed to put my feet down to get blood flowing back into my feet; this is usually more of a problem for Klaus and not for me, but this time our roles were reversed.
So after 20km I asked for us to stop so I could put my feet down for a minute or two.
From my 150km ride with Hartmut a few weeks before I had learned that I need to eat little and often on long rides so had, as previously mentioned, lots of snacks with me. At these stops we generally grabbed something from the bag. Klaus went for a banana this time as we looked across at the bridge to Zwolle.
It was still pretty chilly so Klaus was wearing his buff over his ears.
The day was beautiful as we wafted our way through the northern Dutch landscape.
We also saw lots of wildlife including two storks here.
I had expected the road surfaces to be a bit better than they actually were. They weren’t potholey but weren’t as smooth as the surfaces in NL near Venlo. I guess they are more grippy for cars but it did involve more cycling effort than on really smooth asphalt. We weren’t on cycle paths but on quiet roads on an excellent route that Klaus had made using routes from friend Gabi (who has ridden from Dronten to Bonn several times) and also another velomobile rider called Liegender_Robert.
Cycling in the Netherlands is not for the accident-prone as you often cycle beside canals with no crash barriers or anything to stop you going in if something unexpected happens!
We changed places sometimes with me ahead or Klaus ahead, communicating through the walkie talkies mostly.
After 30km I started noticing a strange twinge in the muscle behind my right knee. I hoped it would go away but it got stronger and meant that I was using less force on that leg (my more powerful leg) when pedalling. I started to get a very bad feeling about my ability to ride the distance if I had already got some kind of problem with only just over 10% of the route covered.
Which was ironic as before we had left for Dronten I had talked to a few people about the upcoming ride and had said airily “I know I can do the distance, the only probable issue that will stop us is if Klaus isn’t able to set up the velomobile correctly for him and pulls a muscle or something.” Hoist by my own petard, it was me who was quite clearly the weak spot in this team!
At about the 45km mark we came to a bridge that we needed to cross – and it was decidedly uncrossable!!!
We both stopped and consulted our Garmins. I have an Oregon with one map, Klaus has an Edge 1000 with another map, and they often show different things. Mine showed that we really need to backtrack half a kilometre to join up most easily with our route, but Klaus’s Garmin showed an option if we continued on. I wasn’t sure but in then end decided to go with his plan as his map download was newer than mine.
We rolled on 10 metres and were passed by a local chap on a bike who proceeded to go past a metal gate thingie and over a small footbridge that neither of us had noticed. So we instantly followed him.
The bridge was too twisty and narrow to safely ride over so we got out of the velomobiles and I wheeled Penelope over first, then it was Klaus’s turn.
We made it across and wheeled the bikes along a muddy footpath before arriving at the other side of the closed road bridge.
We walked on a little further until we were back on solid ground.
I had hoped that a bit of walking would help my knee but as I sat back in Penelope and started pedalling I realised that wasn’t the case, it was still hurting a lot. So I told Klaus about it. This was bad news after less than a quarter of our journey. I said I would of course continue on but would need to be careful. So we slowly rolled on.
We had divided our track for the full ride into four sections, so that the “Distance to Destination” field didn’t say horrible numbers like 198 but usually less than 50. This is a psychological help to me on a long ride. Klaus had broken each sector at a town that looked like it’d have food options and we reached the first of these at 55km, Heeten in Overijssel.
I felt it was wise to stop for some food and maybe a hot drink and for me to have a think about my knee problem a bit. My bakery radar was suitably successful and we found a bakery which provided us with tea and coffee. We sat outside on the benches and drank our drinks, eating some of our food supplies. I took this photo which I think illustrates very well long-distance touring – tea, food, phone chargers…
I carry around a bag which has everything you might need in all circumstances and it did not fail me again as I found four paracetamol deep in the depths. I took two and hoped they would help my knee to deal with the next 155km. A tall order!
Off we pedalled, still slow as I couldn’t put much pressure on the knee and my legs weren’t that good anyway. I could see in Klaus’s face he was realising that this was all going to take much longer than he had thought, but of course he would stick with me. I could tell he was raring to push on and see how fast he could ride in his new lightweight machine but with slow Helen in heavy Penelope (no mention of me being heavy too here!) that was not going to happen. I had custody of the food supplies though just to ensure he didn’t disappear too far ahead!
As midday approached it got a lot warmer so it was time to remove a layer of clothing.
What we also began to notice was that the landscape was changing. Now we were away from the reclaimed land and the salty marshes there were more trees. The houses also seemed a little different, perhaps a bit smaller and closer together. They still looked like Dutch houses though, no sign of the German Rollladen (external window shutters) like you get around the Niederrhein and Venlo areas.
The next 45km for Segment 2 on our GPS tracks was a bit better for my knee as the paracetamol were doing the trick. Klaus asked if I had some more as he had banged his knee on a bolt sticking out on the underside of the top of his Strada and grazed his knee, which was sore and being irritated by his lycra trousers with every pedal stroke. As I only had two left I meanly hoarded them for myself but said I would try to get something more in NL if I saw a likely shop. In Germany you can only buy painkillers in Apotheke (chemist shops) but I assumed NL was like the UK and you can get them in supermarkets and petrol stations etc and very cheaply. German medicines are stupidly expensive.
Anyway, eventually the next 45km were completed and we arrived in Beltrum in Gelderland and found a nice restaurant with conservatory overlooking the bike parking area.
We had soup and tea/coffee and the lady also refilled our water bottles. I hadn’t been drinking enough water I realised and was perhaps a little dehydrated. Klaus was putting magnesium tablets into his water but I don’t like any taste in water so was just drinking plain.
We set off at 4pm and were less than halfway home – this was going to be a SLOOOOOOOOOW ride because of me!
I stopped about 400 metres later as I saw a supermarket. I popped in there and indeed they had paracetamol (53 cents) and Ibuprofen (1 euro 39 cents) so I bought one of each and we both popped the relevant pills. Vitamin P for me, Vitamin I for Klaus (I am allergic to ibuprofen). It was good to know we had a better supply of painkillers in case it got a bit more dramatic later!
Klaus did a bit of mental arithmetic and decided that at our current rate of progress we would be back at one in the morning. I wasn’t sure if I would actually manage the entire ride and was seriously considering stopping in Rees am Rhein. This had always been an option and I had recced Rees with Hartmut a few weeks before and seen that they had a decent looking hotel. However, I knew that Klaus really really wanted to do the full ride, that there is no way he would leave me in Rees and carry on alone, and I also didn’t have any fresh clothing and underwear if I had to ride the next day so these reasons meant I decided to do all I could to carry on.
The great thing about cycling is that you go at a natural pace for your body and mind and can see and appreciate the landscape around you. In a car you whizz by, in a velomobile you sail by but can smell and hear what is going on around you to a much greater extent. We really appreciated the scenery throughout the whole day. I would often get on the walkie talkie and say “look at that lovely thatched barn” or something similar – there were lots of thatched buildings in NL, we don’t see as many in the Niederrhein it seems to me. The whole time we were passing fields with horses and ponies and also some fields with deer too.
We stopped every 15km for me to put my feet down as they were getting more and more problematic. We were slowly munching our way through our food supplies – I ate one of the two filled rolls I had made with the breakfast leftovers and Klaus was steadily working his way through a big hand of bananas. The nuts I had packed were useful except they were mixed nuts and Klaus can’t eat walnuts so he had to pick them out a bit carefully but generally survived. The yoghurts were surprisingly refreshing too. The Pringles I had taken from the hotel were good for a change of taste and Klaus started on the easter eggs – they were all white chocolate so I said he could have them all. There is no earthly need for white chocolate when normal milk chocolate is in existence. Yuck. There was no point in me saving any for the post-Easter chocolate-and-cake-fest.
On one stop I realised we must be pretty close to the border with Germany. I had to stop for my feet again and so we just pulled up by the side of the road and I got out and walked around a bit. Klaus helped himself to another banana.
Then a chap came out of the house opposite and came to admire the velomobiles. He spoke to us first in Dutch so I said “English?!” and he said “English!” and carried on speaking Dutch. So I tried “Deutsch!” and he said “ah, Deutsch!” and spoke a few words of German – and then carried on in Dutch. But weirdly we could somehow understand him. He was talking about our velomobiles of course, and we’re pretty familiar with what most people say about them in any language.
We asked him how far to the border and he said about 10km. He was talking all the time in Dutch but we were able to communicate reasonably. He wished us well and headed off back into his house and we pedalled further.
As we arrived in the town of Dinxperlo we started noticing signs in German as well as Dutch. I noticed that all the cars parked at houses on the left hand side of the road had German registrations and all the buildings on the right (an industrial estate) had Dutch-registered vehicles, so I wondered if the German/Dutch border ran alongside this road. I have looked it up on the map and indeed that is the case!
We then passed a sign “Welcome to Nordrhein-Westfalen” and instantly the bike cycle path disappeared and we had to ride on the L606 main road. This wasn’t a problem in the velomobiles as such roads are fast and there wasn’t too much traffic. It was a good feeling to have made it all the way to Germany although we still had 85km to go.
We stopped for another foot rest/food break and Klaus and I did some more velomobile photography.
You can see the light tower on Celeste very well in this last picture. It turned out to be an excellent addition as now sunset was coming Klaus turned it on and it was really easy to see. He used mostly the flashing red light which is not technically legal in Germany I believe but is definitely worthwhile to warn cars that there is something usual up ahead. He has the normal solid light that all bikes must have too.
I was counting down the distance to Rees for psychological reasons – I had cycled to Rees with Hartmut so felt I knew the route and was ‘back home’ again once we were on it. It was a struggle though as my legs were getting more and more dead and I had occasional recurrences of the knee pain (and took some more paracetamol for it). I knew I probably wouldn’t stop at Rees as then Klaus would stop but my other option, cadging a lift home in the VW Bus from Frank, wouldn’t be an option as they were out for the evening. Oh well, I would just have to man/woman up and keep turning those pedals.
Eventually we passed Rees and crossed the Rhine river, a great feeling! There were still 65 miles to go and this was if I rode directly home rather than to Viersen. My car was at Viersen but that wouldn’t be an issue, and the direct route would shave 10km off my distance. I told Klaus I would do that and that was clearly OK.
I had run out of water and knew it was important to keep hydrated so we stopped at a petrol station which I had noted on my ride with Hartmut. Standing at the counter buying two water bottles and gazing at thousands of Mars and Snickers bars made me realise that this was probably also extra difficult because I couldn’t refuel on any sugar.
We also took the opportunity for what might be the last loo stop of the day!
And then it was time to ride on. I was unfortunately getting slower and slower and we had to tackle a hill that had seemed notable on my ride with Hartmut when I was much fresher. Fortunately Tötenhugel didn’t seem as bad as I feared although Klaus had a long wait for me at the top. The roll down the other side is great fun – Klaus did it without pedalling and was amazed at how efficient and aerodynamic the Strada is. I kept pedalling as I was getting a bit worried that if I stopped my legs would seize up.
The kilometres were counting down very slowly now. Klaus had his flashing light on and stayed behind me mostly as we rode on the roads and not cycle paths for speed and because there was very little traffic. Kevelaer was approaching and that felt good as I have visited it a few times and it didn’t feel too far away. We whizzed through with the next stop Straelen which we very regularly visit and feels really near home.
The 12km between Kevelaer and Straelen seemed forever though as I was pretty much finished energy-wise. There were some very slight gradients which Klaus didn’t even notice but they slowed me right down… I was crawling along at 12km/h. Then when I had a slightly faster bit on the road my battery jumped out and fell through the foot holes again (it occasionally does this when I go over a bump as the elastic that holds it in is stretched and I haven’t worked out how to improve it). Klaus didn’t even see it but didn’t run it over but then two cars came past. As I only have three of these, and they cost 50€ each, I wanted to go back for it so Klaus put all his lights on and I used my iPhone torch to look up the road – there was the battery lying on the ground. There were no cars coming so I fetched it and it seemed undamaged. I plugged it in and it seemed to work – phew! The connector was a bit dicky as it flickered on and off a bit which is slightly perturbing in the pitch darkness but it then settled down a bit. Klaus stayed behind me with his lights for a bit until it seemed OK.
Eventually Straelen appeared before us. The route was to go round it but I knew that included a railway bridge that would be abominably slow for me so we went straight through the town centre instead. Our usual route is on the trikes and I had forgotten about the set of Drängelgitter gates. I had to get out of Penelope and wheel her round – once again a major pain as getting in and out was very difficult as my body had stiffened up. I also found where I sat on the seat my sit bones had clearly got a bit too overfamiliar with the metal frame and were complaining. I tried to sit on yesterday’s t-shirt but that didn’t help much.
Anyway, I got through the gates and went to the other side of the road where the cycle path was. Klaus was having trouble with his parking brake so said he’d find a different route out. I said I’d carry on as I was getting a bit concerned if my knees stopped moving they would freeze up, so I pootled onwards…
He eventually caught me up at the traffic lights on the main road out towards Wachtendonk. He told me later that he was a bit cheesed off as he couldn’t see to reverse out of where he was because it was dark and couldn’t get out of the velomobile as the parking brake wouldn’t set and would have liked my help but I had disappeared. Eventually he managed the brake and got through the gates and he seems to bear me no ill will for leaving him behind!
Perhaps he extracted a small amount of revenge as he went ahead on the section between Straelen and Wachtendonk and completely disappeared from view. I went a bit faster here as it is a smooth road with slight downhill tendencies and I was soon at the traffic lights at Wachtendonk where Klaus was waiting. We rode around the outskirts and then came the point where we should separate with me going through Gelinter to the east back to Kempen and him continuing south to Viersen. As expected he was a little reluctant to leave me on my own as I was clearly totally exhausted but I insisted that I knew what I was doing, I was familiar with the route and it was only 10km, and of course I could phone him if anything dramatic happened, so we said goodbye and headed off on our own separate ways.
At this point Klaus speeded up dramatically (no surprise there!) but I just got slower and slower. I suppose it was knowing the end was in sight and having absolutely no energy reserves I could access (I have a heck of a lot of stored fat but it was clearly not available at this point). I pedalled slowly on, my mental arithmetic showing me that I would get home before the 200km. What a disaster!
As I rode up the 1.5km road to my house I realised I needed to do a slight detour to add another 600 metres onto my track to make the 200. I could have cried! But I absolutely had to do it, so took the extra diversion around the back roads so that my Garmin finally showed me a magic number as I pulled up at my house.
The actual amount was 201.1km as I had forgotten to turn my Garmin on straight away on two occasions and had ridden a bit before I realised and Ascent/Strava correct this.
These are my actual figures:
Distance = 201.15
Moving time = 11 hours 43 minutes 44 seconds
Average speed = 17.1 km/h
Average heart rate = 141 bpm
Maximum heart rate = 170
Maximum speed = 34.6 km/h (very slow!!!!)
Calories burned (calculated with heart rate monitor) = 5,648
Klaus ended up with a total distance of 210.2km.
The five stairs to my front door seemed rather a mega challenge when I finally got home, and the flight of stairs up to my room was a real mountain. However I made it, had a shower and fell into bed feeling very pleased with myself for managing what had seemed a very tall order at 30km. Klaus had no ill effects and cycled for an hour the next day in Celeste, and would have been 3-4 hours quicker on his own, but it will still good fun for him and a very impressive start to his velomobile career.
The next day I was stiff and my legs hurt but the following day I was back in Penelope to cycle to work with no ill effects. I’d like to try such a distance again sometime soon when I am a bit better trained and see how it goes. But overall I had a brilliant time, I loved the cycling and I so appreciated the chance to cover a lot of ground and to be able to experience the changing landscape and note the different styles of buildings as you move through a country.
Thanks again to Klaus for his company and for sticking with Mrs Slow!