Category Archives: Rhein-Waal-Maas 2018

Rhein-Waal-Maas Day 6: Roermond to Kempen

Day 3 of the second tour.

We had another good night’s sleep at the Vrienden op de fiets house in Roermond and were treated to a very good breakfast.

The bikes had spent the night safely in the garden.

Our hosts had to leave at 10am so we said goodbye to them at 9:30 and set off on our last stage of the tour.

We did quite a lot of this route just two weeks ago when I rode Humphrey to Roermond with Klaus and Ralf, and the route is very pleasant with lots of quiet roads. There were a few speedbumps which are not quite as comfortable in Millie as in Humphrey.

We saw this beautiful church underway.

We stopped for a short break and to enjoy the sunshine and chatted to a dog walker (who is rather unfortunately rendered in the photo below). I took the photo below because Millie was nicely reflected in Celeste!

This is what Klaus could see from his vantage point!

We enjoyed the quiet roads, although there were lots of leisure cyclists out as well, but we often had the whole road to ourselves!

Our plan was to stop in Venlo for some lunch/cake but as we came over the bridge into the town there seemed to be an awful lot of cyclists and walkers. As we reached the town it was clear something was going on – I have never seen so many bikes parked in one place. They were everywhere! There were sound stages and people dressed as runners… it was Venloop which is an annual half marathon. We knew it would be pointless to try to stop somewhere for food, plus we couldn’t really ride anywhere as it was all so packed. Instead we stayed on the roads and tried to make our way to the east so we could get on the road to Germany but road closures made it pretty tricky. We got lots of cheers from spectators – it was great to see that pretty much every Venlo resident was there, hanging out of the windows or cheering from the pavement.

We finally got across the main road into Venlo and could head towards the glider airfield. On the way we saw this very impressive bunting with the balloon runner!

We stopped for a while to watch the gliders and then discussed where we could go for cake. We both knew of, but had not visited, a café/restaurant not far away down an unmade road. We gave it a go and the unmade road was fine and the cake at Birkenhof was very tasty!

We were home fairly early after our ride of 61.62km which we cycled at an average speed of 18.7 km/h (very relaxed). My average heart rate for this ride was now a super-low 120 bpm.

We really enjoyed both our mini tours, although we were blessed with better weather for the second one. A tour of 3 days can be a very rich and exciting experience so we are considering whether we can manage more in the future by just taking one day off work. We shall see!

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Rhein-Waal-Maas Day 5: Maastricht to Roermond

The second day of our second mini-tour.

We slept well and as agreed went down for breakfast at 8 o’clock. Anke had provided us a very good spread of breakfast items.

She talked to us a little about some of the cycle tours she had done.

Anke had to leave at 9 so we were gone before then. We decided to visit Maastricht itself and cycled over the bridge and through the pedestrian zone a little.

We found ourselves in a large square with lots of buildings around it and a large church.

Klaus took this interesting pic of Celeste!

And also this Panorama view of the square.

Here is Millie in front of the church.

Klaus had talked several times about the bookshop in a church so we googled it and discovered it was just around the corner. As I pulled up outside I noticed Millie rather nicely reflected in the doors!

We parked outside.

It was a beautiful building inside with very clever design for the bookshelves on three levels.

There was also a café where the altar used to be and so we stopped for a cuppa.

We set off again after a nice relaxing time in the bookshop and wended our way through Maastricht town on a Saturday morning. There was lots on as the weather was good. Klaus stopped to take a picture of a building and Millie photobombed him!

We then crossed the river and looked back at the town (photo by Klaus).

It was lovely to just stand in the sunshine, warm enough to be outside the velomobiles without jumpers/coats on.

However, we were on a bike tour so it was time to set off towards Roermond.

Our route today was as follows:

On the way to Maastricht we had ridden on the west side of the river/canal, this time we were going up the east side.

We had plenty of time for the 60km day so decided we would stop for a leisurely cake halfway if we could find somewhere. There were lots of interesting places along the way.

Here I stopped for a photo of a lovely church:

And at the same time Klaus was also photographing it from further back – you can see Millie in his shot.

You can tell from the skies in the above photos that it was turning into a really lovely day. The temperature was about 10 degrees but inside the velomobiles we were toasty warm.

It’s a very nice route that we were riding although surprisingly quiet for a Saturday, except for lots of MAMILs riding in chain gangs.

At about halfway we started looking for somewhere to stop for a cuppa but couldn’t find anything. Finally, just past Berg an de Maas, we discovered a restaurant with lots of signs saying ‘Open’ so stopped, only to find that the door was locked. We rang the bell but no response came. As we were waiting two more cyclists came and sat down.

We started checking on our phones to see if there was anywhere else open not too far away when a car arrived and two people got out carrying parcels from a bakery. It was the owners of the restaurant and they had cake. A bit odd they hadn’t put a sign up to say “back in 5 minutes” or something, but anyway, we got our tea and slice of cake.

Although they spoke no German or English and we spoke no Dutch we managed to communicate perfectly well.

In Maasbracht we saw this very pretty view whilst we were riding down a bit of a hill (photo by Klaus)

And we stopped to look at this windmill. Some passers-by said “hello” to us and they turned out to be Brits.

We continued on and eventually arrived in Roermond at 3 o’clock. I phoned the Vrienden op de fiets host but got no reply so we decided to go to the riverfront and eat something. We had originally said we expected to be there at 5pm so being two hours early meant perhaps they were out.

We ordered a bit of food

And Klaus relaxed with a bit of sun worship

We received an email from the host saying they were at home, possibly in their back garden, so we headed off there.
It was a retired couple with a lovely quaint house with lots of wood panelling (I reckon the chap used to be a joiner or something similar). This was our room:After we had showered Klaus got in touch with his friend Istvan who lives in Roermond to see if he was free. He and his wife invited us for dinner, so we hopped into the Velomobiles and rode the 3km to Istvan’s house, where we had a very tasty meal and lots of very good conversation. Istvan and his wife Ingrid were really interesting people and it was great to get to know them. Klaus met Istvan through a photography forum and had known him for ten years or so.Istvan has a very good coffee machine…We also had some cake!We were all pretty tired so headed off at 9:30pm through Roermond, which was a really lovely ride in the dark on the good cycle paths.The total ride today was 58.52km at an average of 18.4 km/h.Here are the statistics, note that the average heart rate is a very relaxed 120.Once again we were really happy with the Vrienden op de fiets accommodation. The velomobiles were in the garden under an awning and well away from prying eyes. We slept very well after our cycling and socialising!

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Rhein-Waal-Maas Day 4: Kempen to Maastricht

And so the second part of our Tour began!

We had two days at home after the first three touring days, during which we washed our cycling gear and I collected Millie from friend Ralf’s where she had been staying.

My initial feeling when riding Millie was “wow, she is so easy and fast!” and the fact she is also a lot quieter than Humphrey was also fairly noticeable.

This was a chance to see if my difficulties with Humphrey were because of my fitness rather than his form. It was also a chance for me to rest my tired good arm and to enjoy a bit more cockpit space!

We decided that on the first day we would ride to Maastricht and so began the search for hotels which had room for velomobiles. We did lots of searching and didn’t find any very good options, so decided instead to join Vrienden op de Fiets and see if there were options to stay in Maastricht.

For those who don’t know, Vrienden op de fiets is a Dutch organisation where people can offer to host cyclists and the cyclist pays 19,00 EUR per night including breakfast. It costs only 10 EUR to join and then you have access to the database of hosts.

There were several in Maastricht and Roermond (for the next day) but in the end only one in each place was available. You are of course staying in people’s private houses and if they have something else on then it’s a no-go. Anyway, we had a place booked with a lady in Maastricht and with a chap in Roermond and thought we’d give it a go.

Klaus had planned the route this time, and this was our first day’s route:

It was planned to go past Ralf’s house as he thought he might be able to join us for some of the ride but in the end he wasn’t able.

We set off at 10:30am having packed everything into our velomobiles (I had to remember how to best utilise Millie’s limited space) and we headed off on very familiar roads at first.

It was a grey day and the weather forecast was for clouds all day but at least the temperatures were warmer than at the start of the first part of this tour – when it was snowing and minus four degrees! We were also happy to know that the forecast was improving for the next two days.

Unfortunately Klaus had an altercation with a dodgy driver after just 3km. Approaching a red traffic light the chap did an incredibly close pass on Klaus and then stopped at the light and jumped out and started remonstrating with Klaus. Klaus was about to get out of his velomobile (at which point he would have been seen to be considerably larger than this chap!) and the chap got back in his car and drove off when the lights went green. This wasn’t a very pleasant start to the tour, and especially not in Kempen which is Really Above That Kind Of Thing. The altercation happened 50 metres from the ‘Fahrradfreundliche Stadt’ sign (Bicycle-friendly city).

However, I guess all cyclists have these experiences from time to time, and we just have to suck it up and get on with our ride. Which we did.

At the roundabout onto the road to Grefrath we transition from the road to the cycle path and it’s a bit of a bumpy corner. Klaus was ahead and I noticed something black bouncing around in his wake. I cycled past it and it was a large black plastic circle. I couldn’t think where it came from on Celeste… and then after about 100 metres I suddenly realised it was a rolled-up inner tube. So I stopped and went back and indeed it was one of Klaus’s spare tubes that had bounced out of the luggage storage space at the front of Celeste. It was a Schwalbe one so that was a good 5 Euros saved!

Along the road to Grefrath we suddenly found ourselves riding over a couple of broken bottles. We stopped and immediately cleaned the tyres as best we could – I didn’t fancy getting a puncture, especially as I hadn’t had one since 1 January 2017!

As we headed into Lobberich I realised I was pretty desperate for the loo. I knew there were loos at Café Floral so we agreed to stop there. You can pay to use a loo if you aren’t a customer in Germany but in the end we decided to stop and to share a slice of cake, we chose this very nice cherry meringue cream confection.

We also had a cuppa each and enjoyed warming up a bit. But we realised that stopping after 17km on a 105km day was perhaps not the best distribution of breaks so it was time to ride on.

We rode past Breyell and then as we were heading to Boisheim I noticed Millie felt a bit rough. Soon enough that regular bump-bump-bump feeling intruded – clearly a puncture. Not only was it the first in fifteen months but I had had the same tyres on the whole time (which were pretty worn out). I used to use Duranos on Millie and had a puncture a week; since fitting Durano Pluses I had been puncture-free. They are heavier tyres so you pay a little with speed/efficiency but it is worth it as tyre changing is a pain in the neck.

It was cold where we stopped to change the tube and tyre and the cold wind whistling past us wasn’t nice. We put the new Durano Plus on and saw a very impressive flint that had got the whole way through the Durano Plus; the tyre was absolutely peppered with other pieces of stone and glass but they had all been stopped by the puncture-resistant band. I am very impressed with how these tyres have performed, and they had done 9000km too.

Our tyre changing provided a small amount of entertainment for the locals, as did pumping up a tyre to 8 bar (110 PSI) with a small hand pump, but we managed it between us and set off again.

We were approaching slightly less flat territory and I found myself on the road doing 61km/h at one point. I ended up with a Strava Queen of the Mountains for this so that was a bonus!

Klaus had routed us to the Meinweg National Park as we have ridden this great, smooth cycle road in the other direction but never going towards NL. Just before we crossed into the national park, whilst till in Germany, we had to have a pee stop behind some trees. This is very illegal in the Netherlands although apparently it is OK in Germany, so we made the most of the opportunity. I had also realised that if we were to make the time our host requested (between 17:00 and 17:30) we probably wouldn’t be able to have another stop – and had 70km to ride! This was a bit of pressure!

So we set off, riding separately at our own pace. Klaus had great fun with Celeste, managing to hit 71 km/h. I was a bit slower but enjoyed the downhills. We were now in the Netherlands.

We now followed Klaus’s track through some very nice countryside indeed, with lots of quiet lanes. Most of the photos below are taken by Klaus (as you can probably tell by the colour of the velomobile nose in shot!)

Following the pre-prepared Garmin track is very easy and means that we could relax and just enjoy the pedalling. There were a few trickier bits, such as finding the way onto the cycle track to cross this bridge. We were crossing a canal that runs a little way away from the Maas.

Most of our route was very good cycle paths, with some quiet B roads as well. We were making good progress, Millie was much easier for me to ride and the warmer weather also helped. Because we were following the canal and also later the Maas river we crossed from one side of the dyke to the other quite regularly and this included some short, steep climbs to get onto the dyke. At this point I discovered that Millie’s Schlumpf really doesn’t sound very healthy when in its low gear. Having now ridden Humphrey, who also has a Schlumpf, I know how it should feel and sound – and Millie’s is not well. I am making plans to either replace it or to put a normal double chainset on there, and also to reduce the size of the large chainring to assist me with hill starts etc. When riding along one has plenty of time to plan these things…

We crossed the Maas river with a ferry at Berg and then found ourselves in Belgium, so this was a 3 countries tour again.

As you can see, the road surface was pretty rough in Belgium, but it was a nice ride along the top of the dyke for quite a few kilometres before we turned and rode alongside the canal towards Maastricht.

We had ridden from Maastricht to Lanaken on our previous tour in this region and this time we approached Maastricht in the reverse direction, arriving where there were a lot of roadworks but we were waved through. The cycle path was still mostly in place!

Klaus photographed this former church which is now a gym. He had previously told me about a church in Maastricht which was now a bookshop, so they are obviously repurposing some redundant buildings!

We rode straight to our Vrienden House and arrived at the right time, having ridden the 70km non-stop. We met our hostess, Anke, who was very friendly and spoke very good German. Although I had sent her links to internet pages about velomobiles when checking she had room in her garage, she was a bit surprised how large they were. However, we did manage to fit them in her garage (she had recently had to empty her deceased mother’s house of belongings so they were stored in the garage too).

We had a good chat to Anke and our room was very nice. She had to go out in the evening but we said we wouldn’t do much, just go out for food, so we walked just down the road to a pizzeria we had noticed. It was very high quality food and I noticed they also had a Pizza Celeste!

We very much enjoyed our pizzas (we are off the low-carb diet when touring) and it was then time for bed. I am always pooped after a long cycle ride, particularly without many stops! In the end I went to bed at 20:15 so this is really showing my age! But we were very encouraged by our first experience of Vrienden op de fiets and already started discussing whether we could use this for our summer tour around the Netherlands in June.

Today’s ride was 106km and here are my statistics, the average heart rate is lower than on the first day of the tour with Humphrey but still pretty high.

We had purposely planned a shorter day the next day, just 55km to Roermond, but it was great to be touring again, even just for three days, and great to be in Millie again with the more comfortable cockpit for me.

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Rhein-Waal-Maas Day 3: Nijmegen to Kempen

Day 3 of the tour

Despite being on holiday I still woke up at 6 am. Oh well, it gave me a chance for a cup of tea and some reading.

Our plan this morning was to go to Roef’s for breakfast when he told us he was ready (he had to work a little in the morning first), we expected at about 10:30. As we were up and ready to ride much earlier we decided to head down to the riverfront for a cup of tea.

And it was very much DOWN, through lots of cobbled streets, with the velomobiles bouncing around and making lots of rattling noises. But we made it to the bottom and stopped outside Humphrey’s namesake bar:

Unfortunately it, and the neighbouring café, were both closed, but someone told us we could find some open cafés back up the hill again. Uphill. Oh well, we set off.

Humphrey has a Mountain Drive which is a gear system which reduces the gear ratio significantly (three times lower). What this means is that when you are using the normal gear range the lowest gear is OK for setting off on level ground or climbing very gentle slopes but anything steeper you need to ‘schlumpf’ which means suddenly you have an extremely low gear and have to pedal like mad to make any speed. As I am entirely unable to pedal like mad, I just slowly pootle my way up the hill in great comfort but at a low velocity. This enables Klaus to set up a nice photo though!

At the top of this hill there was indeed an open café so we stopped and had a cup of tea. Very shortly afterwards we heard from Roef that he was now free and we could come over for breakfast.

Roef had supplied us with a route to his place and it was yet another of these fantastic Dutch cycle ways. About 80% of the route was entirely segregated from all other traffic and was fast. There were very few road crossings. We zoomed along beside the railway line in our little pink-tarmacked world and thought again how wonderful the Dutch cycling infrastructure can be and how disappointing it is that few other countries manage this.

We arrived at Roef’s and put our velomobiles in his garage.

As you can see, he has an orange Strada. Klaus and I had very significant garage-envy, especially knowing that this garage is warm (as it is underneath the apartments).

Roef had arranged a very good breakfast for us, including porridge, croissants, rolls, yoghurt etc. We enjoyed chatting to him whilst we ate and then organised ourselves very leisurely to set off back home again. Roef would accompany us as far as Gennep.

Before our tour I had planned three separate routes back from Nijmegen to home. Of course, we didn’t use any of them in the end! It makes much more sense to follow the local who has much more experience of the environs, plus later on I discovered the Garmin Connect route planning software had done some weird things and we had to scrap one of the possible routes.

This was our actual track:

We were very lucky in that the weather was significantly better today than the last two days. It wasn’t hugely warm but the biting wind had subsided and when we were in the sun it felt very good. I suppose the temperature was about 10 degrees overall so much, much better.

The little procession of 2 Stradas and a Quattrovelo headed along the Maas towards Cuijk and Gennep.

The speed was comfortable for me in the Quattrovelo, which was running a bit better than yesterday. Well, I guess I must conclude that the problem lies mostly with the rider rather than the velomobile, but warm weather definitely helps me!

We were alongside the Maas at some times, at other times we moved a little away, but were largely on quiet roads that ran parallel to the main road and so had very low traffic.

We were cruising fairly well, staying close together as the speed worked for us all.

As we came into Gennep we decided to look for a café for a cup of tea as we had been riding for 30km in total. We found a café and of course the three velomobiles outside created a bit of a stir.

Although Klaus and I follow a low carbohydrate diet, we had decided that on this tour we wouldn’t keep to it as it’s a bit trickier with hotel breakfasts etc. And I have to say, I did fancy one of these desserts.

The Schwarzwälder Kirsch Meringue Gebak (at least three languages in that one name!) seemed like an excellent choice, and indeed it was! It was a kind of black forest roulade.

Klaus had the apple pie with cream.

I had been interested in what the ‘Speckkoek’ was, as it sounded like a bacon cake. I didn’t choose it, but after we had finished our cakes the waitress brought us a very small piece to try. It was OK (no actual bacon in it) but I preferred my black forest meringue thingie.

We had a very leisurely break as we felt there was no urgent need to push on. When  you don’t have to check into a hotel but are simply going home you aren’t under so much time pressure.

But eventually it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes to Roef, having really enjoyed the time spent with him. You can read his blog here: Roef’s Blog.

From Gennep we started off following the route that chum Rolf had sent us which goes to the west of the Maas but the plan was to then switch to Klaus’s route which would take us to Arcen. However, I did some last minute course changes when I realised that Garmin Connect had mucked up Klaus’s route and it was just sending us straight down the main road to Venlo. This would not be very scenic! So we continued to follow Rolf’s route and I could see the point where I needed to turn off it to continue to Arcen. Klaus just followed behind me, trusting I wouldn’t get him too lost!

Rolf had a slightly better route between Bergen and Nieuw-Bergen so that was good, and we were very soon on Ceresweg, the road that runs along the border between the Netherlands and Germany. It’s a lovely long road with minimal traffic and great scenery but the road surface is pretty hard which can be wearing over time. We made good progress though, and in this case the Quattrovelo’s suspension was kinder than Millie’s would have been.

Usually this section seems very fast but it felt to me like it was going on for quite a long time. I suppose with the Quattrovelo being slower, and also me being rather tired, it was harder work than I had thought. But eventually we were climbing the hill out of Arcen towards Germany and Straelen, and we then rode one of our standard routes home going the more scenic way for a couple more kilometres.

When we got home I felt really, really physically tired. It was 93km in total and not particularly fast (average 20.5) but I was still pooped. My arms were also complaining a lot. The main issue is that there isn’t much elbow room in the cockpit of the Quattrovelo so my arms are squashed against my side and also against the side of the QV. The cold air wicks through the carbon and straight into your bones! Also I have to support the tiller and this involves muscle power, especially as my disabled arm can only hang off the tiller, so the good arm is not only holding the tiller up but also supporting the weight of the disabled arm pulling down. My Milan has a tiller limiter thingie which attaches to the boom and ought to be possible with the QV, I am rather disappointed it is not an option. I will see if I can fit something, but it still doesn’t solve the problem of the too narrow cockpit.

Getting out of the QV was a challenge once we got home as my arms were cold and tired, but I managed it and enjoyed a lovely hot shower!

Here are my statistics for the ride today:

We had originally discussed perhaps heading off to Maastricht the next day for a short break but I realised I needed some time to rest and recover, so the plan was shifted a bit. I will collect Millie and then consider whether I do the Maastricht trip in her. Watch this space!

But in conclusion, we had a very good tour and visited some lovely towns. The cycling routes were mostly very good and some of the infrastructure in the Netherlands was brilliant. The weather was not particularly kind to us though, and I think we need to recognise that touring when it is below freezing is maybe not the best option!

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Rhein-Waal-Maas Day 2: Rees am Rhein to Nijmegen

Day 2 of the tour, and another freezing one!

We slept really well and enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast in the morning. The day dawned with clear blue skies but it was still very windy and cold.

We got our bikes out of the garage and then I checked my seat as I had heard a few creaking noises from it. Lo and behold the left hand side fixing to the frame of the QuattroVelo had some wobble in it. Klaus tried to tighten the nuts that hold it in place but it was very tricky and he wasn’t entirely successful as there was still some wobble. He also got very cold working outside on my bike. We will have to look more closely at this when we get home.

We wrapped up again before we set off, with hats, buffs and with the Schaumdeckel on. The first kilometre was a bit challenging for me as I had to keep adjusting my mirror as it wasn’t quite right but couldn’t get my arm back inside the Schaumdeckel without stopping.

We rode alongside the Rhine heading west, fortunately with the wind mostly from behind us. Our speeds were a bit better than yesterday but still not anything special.

It was still very cold and I discovered, like yesterday, that I get very cold arms where they are jammed against the side of the QuattroVelo because it is narrower than most other Velomobiles here. The cold of the carbon really wicks into your bones (or, in my case, my titanium bone).

The banshee whistling had stopped as the wind was from behind but I found now that the noise from the gearbox was disturbing me more. The QuattroVelo seems altogether to be a very noisy machine!

Our route merged onto the cycle path beside a busy road. We remembered this road from before and worked out a small diversion to take us away from it, which we duly did. This was a lot nicer.

The route then went up onto the dyke and rather than tarmac we had bricks. The QuattroVelo rolls OK on rough surfaces, definitely better than the Milan, so this didn’t slow us down too much.

At one point there was an apparent short cut which meant we didn’t have to go back to the busy road. Klaus had already headed off to the main road but I decided to give the short cut a go.

Very soon there was yet another closed gate but with a narrow opening to the side. We had already ridden through four or five of these, but I noticed this one needed a very sharp turn to the left once you were through it as there was a big ditch straight ahead. Really it would be best to get out and walk through but getting in and out is very difficult for me, especially with the Schaumdeckel, plus it was so cold and windy. Instead I shuffled forward and back to get through the gate and do the sharp turn straight afterwards.

but…. disaster! There was a scraping noise!

I reversed back – there was a wooden post that I had not been able to see because of the long nose of the QV (it had been out of sight when I first headed for the gate). I felt sure Humphrey had a scratch on his nose now.

Once through I pootled along and Klaus soon joined up with me again, having done his alternative route which avoided scratches but involved some off-road. He said he could see a scratch on Humphrey.

We rounded a corner and realised that we were at the border between Germany and the Netherlands so stopped. Klaus got out and I was going to but realised how cold it was and changed my mind.

Klaus was braver and got out to take a pic.

We continued on pretty quickly as standing around will make you cold!

I was seriously considering doing the shorter route (not going via Arnhem) as I felt so tired and slow. Interestingly, my heart rate was much lower than yesterday, but I felt that I had even less power than before.

Klaus and I started looking for somewhere to have a spot of lunch but couldn’t find anything. We took the ferry between Pannerden and Doorenberg over the Nederrijn river and when we got to Doorenberg I said we needed to find a cafe and have a discussion about what to do next as this was where the track direct to Nijmegen split off.

We found a bar that did tea and coffee but no food, but as we needed to warm up it was worth it! I got out of Humphrey and looked at the scratch damage – argh!!!

Ouch and aua!

Oh well, there was nothing to be done about it for now. Maybe I can buy some touch up paint.

We had a leisurely drink and discussed why I was finding the riding so hard today. A summary of our points is as follows:

a) I find it tough riding in cold weather

b) The QuattroVelo is heavier than I am used to

c) I probably overdid it yesterday (see high heart rate) and have not yet recovered

d) Velomobiles need to be run in a bit before they are their most efficient. I have always bought used Velomobiles in the past

I think the first point is very valid; we couldn’t remember if I had ever ridden in such cold conditions in Millie. Oliebollentocht 2016 was pretty cold and I was not quick on the 180km ride home. Maybe I am just not designed for cycling in the cold. As it is, my power band is very limited and so if there are some additional things that take power that has a noticeable effect on me.

Whatever, I had not enjoyed my ride today, even before the scratch on Humphrey, so I decided to take the direct route to Nijmegen and save another 18km. Klaus fancied the Arnhem trip so went off on his own, which was fine by me.

I headed off on the direct route to Nijmegen and at last had a really decent road with a strong tailwind and I actually found myself cycling at 24km/h.

This section along the top of the dyke was fab, although it would have been a horrible grind the other direction into wind!

I could see some of the bridges of Nijmegen from a long way back and so could see where my destination  was. The cycle tracks were good and I very soon found myself at the hotel, where I was shown to my parking place.

Klaus was on his way back and although delayed by a puncture he arrived just after I had showered and had a cuppa.

He took this photo of the Waal.

And a reflection in Arnhem.

And saw this shop, which might be worth a visit one day!

Here is my track for the day:

And here is Klaus’s track:

Here are my statistics for the day:

Distance was 58.47km, average speed 18km/h which is very poor!

Notice ny max heart rate today is similar to yesterday’s average.

Here is Klaus’s report:

Der heutige Tag unserer Tour war wettermäßig wesentlich angenehmer als der gestrige. Gut…kalt war es immer noch und mächtig gezogen hat es auch, aber die Sonne lachte vom Himmel.

Die ersten Kilometer aus Rees waren noch ganz schön, aber dann ging es in Richtung Emmerich entlang der B8 nicht gerade berauschend. Irgendwo mittendrin haben wir uns dann seitlich verdünnisiert. Raus aus Emmerich würden wir über teilweise abenteuerliche Wege geschickt. Hier hat sich Helen auch noch den ersten Kratzer ins VM eingefahren…das tut weh. Insgesamt war es heute für Helen verdammt schwer. Keine Ahnung ob es am VM, am kalten Wetter oder an der Gesundheit hing, aber sie kam heute überhaupt nicht auf Touren. Nach einer längeren Aufwärmpause entschied sie für sich, dass sie eine Abkürzung nach Nijmwejn fährt, während ich wie geplant über Arnhem fahre. Die 17km nach Arnhem waren schnell abgespult. Der Wind hat ein wenig nachgeholfen. In Arnhem bin ich noch ein bisschen durchs Zentrum gerollt, bevor ich auf dem Radschnellweg nach Nijmwegn abgebogen bin.

Dieser Radschnellweg ist wirklich ein Gedicht. Mit teilweise über 40 ohne Hindernisse; meist Vorfahrt… Herrlich. Kurz vor Nijmwegn hatte ich in Rechtskurven ein komisches Geräusch… kurzer Stopp… Fingerprobe… Plattfuß. 5 Kilometer vor dem Ziel. Schlauch wechseln und gleich den Shredda noch entfolgt. Mit über 7000 km sieht die Lauffläche nicht mehr ganz so fit aus. Aus den Schnitten habe ich einiges an Glas und Steinen herausgepuhlt. Nach 15 Minuten ging es dann weiter. Noch ein paar Extrarunden bis ich das Hotel gefunden hatte. Auspacken… Duschen… Fertig.

We had been in contact with a Velomobile rider who lives in Nijmegen, Roef, and Roef had offered to make us breakfast tomorrow. Roef ended up coming to dinner with us in a restaurant in Nijmegen and there was lots of talk about Velomobiles. On our walk to the restaurant Klaus took this photo of the church:

We enjoyed our burgers followed by Apfelstrudel but then it was time to go back to the hotel as I was very tired.

Tomorrow we ride home following the Maas river some of the way. The weather forecast is finally looking a bit better, it should be up to six degrees with only a small amount of snow expected tonight.

Tomorrow is another day to get used to Humphrey and his strengths and weaknesses. I hope to have a bit more energy for the ride!

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Rhein-Waal-Maas Day 1: Kempen to Rees am Rhein

Day 1 of the Tour

We had seen the weather forecast and consequently planned a short day (under 60km) for today. My original route had been less direct and 20km more but with lots of snow and ice yesterday, and continuing light snow this morning meant we definitely wanted to limit the distance. It was minus 3 outside so we faffed around at home in the morning waiting for the snow to clear.

It didn’t, there were still periodic white flurries, but it wasn’t settling so we decided to set off anyway.

Yesterday we had pumped up the tyres and given the bikes a once-over, plus added my Garmin speed sensor to the rear axle and cadence sensor to the crank. Today we just hopped in and set off – once I had got my new Garmin to recognise the cadence and speed sensors, as well as the heart rate monitor. This was the work of moments, the whole thing extremely easy. Top marks to Garmin!

I have never previously ridden with a cadence sensor so today’s ride would be an interesting learning experience.

This was our route for today:

So we set off with flakes of snow swirling about. In this photo I tried to get some snowflakes but I don’t think I was successful!

We both chose to ride with the Schaumdeckel (foam cover) but underneath that we each just had one long-sleeved cycling top; you don’t need lots of layers inside a Velomobile as you generate your own warmth.

We planned to ride to Xanten first and stop there for lunch. Xanten is somewhere we ride to fairly regularly so we knew the way very well, but this time we were largely cycling on the cycle paths rather than on the road. This was because we were slower due to the weather. There were some icy patches so we had to take care.

We took the normal roads to Stenden, then Sevelen; we love the road to Sevelen as it is 7km of dead straight road with hardly any junctions (= Velomobile fun!) but when you are riding slowly and there is a bitter side wind buffeting you about it seems quite a lot longer!! We were not quick, but that was to be expected as it was very cold!

One thing that disturbed me a little on this ride was the wind noise whistling over the front of the QuattroVelo. I don’t know if it’s the sound of the wind on the visor, on the mirrors or just generally on the front, but at times it was a real banshee shrieking and it was very annoying. This  noise was louder than the gear noises! It seems to be related to side winds as when we changed direction it reduced, but it was very annoying. Klaus says he has it too on his Strada.

After cycling for an hour it was time to stop to put our feet down. When riding Velomobiles you can get cold feet and also lose the sensation in your toes a bit, so it is good to stop and take your feet out of the clipless pedals and let the blood flow back into them. Klaus especially has problems with cold feet when it is less than 10 degrees outside, and it was definitely that today! We stopped in a lay-by just after Issum for a five minute break.

We set off again, this time with me in the lead and on the road (no cycle path). This was a faster stretch and the snow had stopped, but it was still really cold! We wended our way towards Xanten and I also began to get very cold feet. The QuattroVelo has two large openings for the feet and they let the cold air in, and when the wind blew from a particular side angle it blew cold air up my trouser leg!

We had to go over a couple of motorway bridges and I noticed that my heart rate was very high on these slight inclines – reaching 190bpm. In fact, this year my heart rate has generally been very high when cycling (although my resting heart rate has reduced to 60 bpm) so I wonder if this has anything to do with the low carb diet. My average heart rate for the whole ride was 162, whereas Klaus’s was 133, which is where mine used to be. Perhaps it is just a sign of my lack of fitness.

There wasn’t much traffic about as we rolled into Xanten. We stopped at our usual cafe and ordered some hot soup and a hot cup of tea.

Klaus tried to thaw out his feet but it took a long time!

We sat in the cafe for about an hour, enjoying the break and the hot food. Klaus’s feet slowly began to regain some sensation, but we knew we would be pedalling in the cold again soon. Whilst we were waiting the skies cleared of snow and we saw some blue at last!

We set off out of Xanten taking a different route than normal. We usually take the Alleenradweg which goes to Marienbaum but this time we stayed closer to the Rhein, again staying on the cycle path. We had the fun of having to press some traffic light buttons which is not very easy from within a Velomobile with the Schaumdeckel on!

Part of this route goes along the Rhein flood dykes and this was great fun with a tailwind, comfortable cruising. The QuattroVelo isn’t fast but once it gets going it rolls nicely, and it is definitely smoother over rough roads than the Milan.

It was just 18km to Rees and the time passed quickly. We rolled over the bridge and then headed for the town, finding our way easily to our hotel, Rheintoreins.

We checked into the hotel, storing the Velomobiles in a locked garage, and then Klaus photographed himself in a ball whilst I was filling in the paperwork…

The room was very nice and we each had a much-appreciated hot shower and a cuppa as we warmed up a bit.

We went out in search of food and Klaus took these pictures of Rees.

We cycled over the bridge in the distance.

And proof of which river we were visiting today:

We found an Italian restaurant and had a pizza (carbohydrates!) as we fancied one after all our riding, then returned to our hotel.

The weather forecast is a bit better for tomorrow – cold still, but perhaps 3-4 degrees warmer than today, and with a slightly reduced wind. We hope to have slightly warmer feet during our riding. We have a bit further to go, 77km, but should have the wind more at our backs which will help.

And the statistics for my ride today, from Garmin Connect:

As you can see, I have a very low cadence (pedalling speed). We knew this, but it is interesting to now measure it. I cannot pedal any faster, this is my comfortable speed and has served me well for a decade.

Anyway, we are pleased to be on tour again despite the Siberian weather, and hope for another good day tomorrow.

And here is Klaus’s report for the day:

Wir sind erst gegen 12 Uhr losgefahren, um dem Schnee zu entgehen… naja hat nicht ganz geklappt. Ein ordentlicher Wind aus Nordost hat uns noch ein paar Flöckchen um die Ohren gehauen. Eigentlich ist es im VM schön kuschelig, aber die Fusszehen sind mir nach 2h fast abgefroren. Nach 1h Pause in Xanten hatte ich dann wieder etwas Gefühl in den Zehen. Die letzten 18 Kilometer waren einfach zu cruisen, da der Wind von schräg hinten kam.

Tomorrow we will cycle along the Nederrijn to Arnhem and will then rejoin the Rhine as it has become the Waal at Nijmegen. We are looking forward to it!

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Humphrey the Quattrovelo, Rhein-Waal-Maas 2018