Saturday 9 June 2018.
Here was our planned route for the day:
I had spent quite a while planning this tour, including the track (using suggestions from Dutch friends Roef and Alex) and where we would stay overnight (a mixture of Hotels/B&Bs and Vrienden op de Fiets). The accommodation proved not so easy at times. The hit rate with Vrienden op de Fiets is not high (maybe 1 positive for 8 enquiries) and I had real trouble with Den Haag. In this case, we didn’t want to book a hotel for those two nights as that would be over 400 euros for the cheapest. Fortunately I eventually found a Vrienden op de Fiets host.
Anyway, Saturday 9 June arrived, the weather forecast for the next week was pretty good (sunny, warm but not boiling, minimal rain), but the tour couldn’t quite start yet.
Last night Klaus and I rode with Jochen to Wachtendonk for ice cream and a chinwag. As we were preparing to return home I was checking my lights and noticed that the Lichtkanone wasn’t working. A bit more experimentation showed the front lights and indicators were working but the brake light not. Bummer.
I carry spare front and rear lights so fitted a rear light and we rode home. Neither of us wanted to fight with the Velomobile wiring that evening as it’s a bit of a nightmare. Millie is an expensive Velomobile but the quality of the wiring in her is very cheap.
So this morning, day 1 of the tour, the first job was to fix the cable.
We guessed a connection had come adrift somewhere and the likely culprit for this would be the wiring within the switching box. So we opened it and did indeed find a broken solder joint (see the end of the orange cable at the bottom left).
So Klaus fetched his soldering iron and it was soon together again.
And lo and behold the lights worked! Hooray! A bit of heat shrink over the joint and Millie lives to fight another day!
We didn’t have too much pressure for today’s ride as we would be staying with chum Roef in Nijmegen so we knew where we were going. Besides, it was only 80km and the first 50 are really fast (and with several good cake options!).
In the end we didn’t end up leaving home until past eleven o’clock. There are lots of dull jobs to do before a two week holiday (put the bin out, empty the fridge) and we were taking it easy because it was a hot day. But eventually it was time to go and we said goodbye to Poppy, Gudula, Frank and Lara and got the bikes ready.
Klaus’s halo is shining very brightly as he agreed to carry my luggage. This is because the Quattrovelo has that wonderful large boot and Millie’s stowage space is a bit harder to access. I had a standard sports bag and it fitted in easily. As Klaus was being the pack mule I had packed three sets of cycling clothing and two of normal clothes. A real luxury on a bike tour!!!!
What this meant was that Humphrey was much heavier than usual. We estimate Klaus was carrying an additional 15kg and Humphrey was noticeably down at the back. Perhaps we should have pumped up the air suspension ball thingies but we couldn’t be bothered to go upstairs again so we decided to live with it. We have a couple of opportunities to pump them up during the tour, one of which is tomorrow as we are visiting another Quattrovelo owner who has also appeared previously on this blog. More about that tomorrow!
Anyway, we headed off on roads that we know really well. We usually ride these routes on Sunday morning and noticed a significant difference in the traffic on a Saturday – many more impatient car drivers, particularly near to Weeze airport. One guy shouted at Klaus to ride on the cycle path (we were doing almost 40 km/h at the time so that would not be a good idea anyway. Then the guy drove off ahead, stopped his car in the middle of the road, got out (leaving the door wide open) and then stood in Klaus’s way as he was cycling towards him. There was a bit of a verbal altercation and the guy said he wanted to drag Klaus out of the bike, so Klaus said he would stop at the next roundabout and they could talk about it. Klaus rode on, the guy then did a really close pass and disappeared into the distance. Nice.
I saw all this from about 50 metres behind. It’s so frustrating when you have car drivers who cannot be patient for just a minute to wait for a good overtaking place, but instead feel it necessary to scream out of the window at you, give rude hand gestures etc.
I had a couple of motorists hooting their horns aggressively at me as well. This isn’t that common when riding this route on a Sunday, so it was interesting to see the difference in behaviour.
It is 40km to Weeze which is halfway for the day’s tour so we went to Markt Café as usual and stopped for cake and tea.
Whilst we were in the café we had a message from Roef, with whom we would be staying this evening, to say he and friend Ed were riding to meet us. They were following our track but would stay in NL.
Klaus had a quick helping of yoghurt and strawberries that we had brought with us outside the church in Weeze.
We headed towards Siebengewald which is the border with NL. It’s a lovely fast road between Weeze and Siebengewald and we were enjoying ourselves when we saw a combine harvester coming towards us. It was massive, wider than one lane of the road, and on the front it had a giant scoop and in that were sitting a woman in a wedding dress and a chap in a suit. It was very cool to see, they were smiling and waved to us. As we passed the combine harvester we saw that it was trailing a couple of oil drums, presumably their version of tin cans!
Various messages were exchanged between us and Roef and we knew he was waiting for us just outside Otttersum. We duly spotted two more Velomobiles lurking beside the cycle path and stopped to say hello!
With Roef in the lead setting the way we headed off towards Nijmegen. He took us on a much more scenic route as he knew the area well…
This included the Cuijk ferry.
Here is the view of the Maas from the ferry.
It was a very hot day and I was getting really thirsty so we stopped for a banana split.
We had just five kilometres back to Roef’s house. We easily fitted all four Velomobiles in his large garage.
After a shower and a freshen up we ordered pizzas and had a very nice evening chatting with Roef and Ed whilst the washing machine did its magic so we have fresh cycling kit again. So much nicer than having to wash the clothes in the shower!
Tomorrow we head to Haaksbergen and Roef will probably accompany us for some of the way. We’re hoping it will be slightly cooler as it was pretty warm today. We have had a relatively easy cycling day with just 87km at a average of 24.2 km/h but I definitely noticed how it was harder to ride in the Netherlands because of lots of stops, starts and directional changes on the cycle paths. But it is brilliant to be on tour again and we look forward to many interesting experiences over the next two weeks. Thanks again to Roef for hosting us.