NL2018 Day 12: Tilburg to Weert

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Here is our planned track for the day:

Today was planned as another shorter day at 80km.

After a good breakfast with John and Marieke we headed off at just past 9am.

Today was another day of mixed road surfaces. We had some fast roads but also lots of bumpy cycle paths.

There was one very long segment on a decent quiet road where a new cycle path beside the road was being constructed. This seemed to be a lot of work for a path where it wasn’t really required, in our opinion, although this road did have some kind of nature centre on it so perhaps they were hoping to attract younger children on bikes. Anyway, the area being constructed was at least 5km long.

And then suddenly an older cycle path appeared – which was wonky bricks and bumpy.

The problem with these bricks is that if you ride at a fast enough speed it changes from bumpy to buzzy but it is not comfortable for long. The velomobiles rattle and shudder and the Quattrovelo does lots of ghost shifting (changes gear). It needs more energy to ride on bumpy roads. On smooth asphalt today we were riding at 30-32km/h, on these bricks at 22km/h. That adds a lot of time to the journey!

And in this next picture you see the three road surfaces as we are waiting for the lifting bridge. I am on the bricks, then there are proper cobbles, then on the main road there are bricks in a different pattern (diagonal). All very irritating!

We were heading towards Belgium and would in fact have a few kilometres over the border as part of our ride. I noticed a familiar name on this road side – Kempen wood!

We had checked out the route before we left and decided to stop at 30km at Hapert as it looked large enough for us to find a bakery. After some minor explorations in the town centre we returned to a bakery Klaus had spotted on the main road going into the town and had some cakes which were actually pretty decent!

We were basically riding a large semicircle around Eindhoven and had very lovely views for most of the day, especially as the sun came out. In fact it ended up pretty warm by mid-afternoon, around 28 degrees, but when riding fast on decent road surfaces we had a good cooling breeze.

You can see below that we weren’t always on the brick road surface but this light-coloured surface was often fairly rough too. The suspension of the bikes smooths out most of the bumps but you do get a bit more noise in the velomobiles.

We crossed into Belgium at Saint Benedictus Abbey and rode along very pretty roads through woodland with lots of walking paths signposted either side. I don’t have any Belgium maps on my Garmin so took a wrong turn in Hamont but Klaus hooted Humphrey’s horn so I realised my mistake.

We had planned our lunch stop in Budel which was 65km into the ride so with only 15 to go. It was the only really decent sized town on the second half our of route. We found a pedestrianised centre area with several restaurants and sat down in the shade of a large umbrella outside one of them. It was hot!

I had another “Twelve O’clock” which this time had a mini jar of tomato soup too!

I had messaged the B&B to say that we were ahead of schedule and rather than being with them at 4pm might be an hour earlier. I got a message back to say that she wouldn’t be in until four, so we stayed a bit longer in Budel and had a cake each while we waited!

We set off at ten past three which gave us loads of time to get to Weert. Which was good as we had mostly rough road surfaces for this last sector. But we did see some interesting things – who knew Kempen had an airport?

The run into Weert was OK although there were a lot of other cyclists going very slowly which upsets the Velomobile cycling rhythm.

We arrived at our B&B which is really lovely (it has a rating of 9.8 on Booking.com). There was a large garage area for the velomobiles and the landlady proudly showed us the electric garage door. She closed it and it became clear – too late! – that the concrete markings on the floor for the garage did not correspond to where the door actually descended. The door landed on Millie’s rear end.

We shouted at the lady to stop the garage closing but she fumbled it a bit. In the end it was only the rear brake light which was knocked off; this is glued on so I guess it isn’t a major issue and we will fix it with gaffer tape for the time being. But this was a slightly inauspicious start.

However, the B&B is absolutely lovely! It’s very cosy with lovely decoration and furniture. There were some little slices of cake to welcome us.

Of course our stuff is everywhere making it look messy but it is very quaint and we feel comfortable.

We ate dinner at a Greek restaurant and then enjoyed a very nice ice cream on the way back; the queue out of the ice cream parlour was really long so we knew it would be good!

Klaus and I would be very interested to know what my Dutch readers think of the Netherlands cycle paths if they have velomobiles. Do you find them good? Would you rather ride on the road? Do you feel safe on the cycle paths? Would you normally prefer to use an upright bike rather than Velomobile for shorter journeys? Comments on this blog post would be gratefully received!

Tomorrow we have a mere 71km to Maastricht and cannot arrive at our Vrienden op de Fiets place until 17:00 so I expect us to have a more relaxed start and perhaps longer at cafes along the way!

8 Comments

Filed under Cycle Tours, Netherlands Tour 2018

8 Responses to NL2018 Day 12: Tilburg to Weert

  1. Never made the step up to a velomobile, but I have done a long distance commute on a recumbent. However, since many kilometers of those rides were in city center traffic too, a normal bike always seemed as convenient; except on the long straights between the two cities when there was a lot of wind.

    The main problem with the bicycle paths in the Netherlands is their mixed quality, and that there can be rush hours on them –when the children ride to school in the morning, or go home in the afternoon. Also, until a couple of years ago all bends were designed for a maximum speed of 25 km/h, and bends at crossroads demand much lower speeds still.

    Over the past decade I’ve seen the quality of the infrastructure go up though, at least in the north of the Netherlands. Cycle routes suddenly have abandoned traffic lights and other stop and go penalties. So, taking up a recumbent again or even a velomobile could become an attractive option.

  2. Alex

    I’ll play. For short distances around the house I use a heavy transport bike with a crate in front and huge panniers. Now that I’ve really started velomobiling, my routing has become different. I prefer double width cycle paths. If a route has a lot of that and long rural roads, I’m good. Like that stretch of canal to Hellevoetsluis. Cycle paths take the speed away, and lots of tight turns at crossings etc.

  3. CV

    If the cyclepath is bricks and the road is smooth (concrete / asfalt) I tend to ride on the road with my VM. I absolutely hate bricks / cobble stones / .. and the >0,75m width of the VM (excluding DF / Hilgo etc.) allows you to ignore the cycle path in NL. If I can cut off 1 km of brick road I happily ride 500m more.

    The only time a car hit me was when I rode on the cycle path, the only time I hit another cyclists… was on the cycle path. The only time I get cut off by cars is when riding… on the cycle path.

    But riding on the road requires a higher constant alert level as you have to watch out for and actively block cars trying to overtake in places where it isn’t safe. And depending on where you do it there might be some cops that think it’s not allowed… and still fine you even after reading it’s explicitly allowed. (Fine will be refunded after appeal(s).)

    My current home – work journey is about 7,7 km, straight through a nasty “city”, so I use the upright bicycle for that. Taking into account changing shoes, unlocking and locking, there is no time savings. And for that distance I don’t get saddle pain yet.
    Previously it was 9km, which I turned into a VM-friendly route of 9,7km that was faster, but I don’t have that option now.
    At home the VM is locked by chain and U-lock, while on the upright bike it’s a matter of ‘insert key and ride’.

    Quality of cycle paths differs greatly by municipality and the time they were built. A single alderman (wethouder) can make a huge difference. If road design is dictated by “the minimum demands of the guidelines” you can be assured it will be pretty lousy. If some higher ups in local government cycle themselves, things can improve dramatically. It also depends on how much people complain. Another favorite response to lousy road design or maintenance is “we never heard that before”.

    The trend isn’t even positive in all places. I know a place where the latest good cycle paths are 20 years old. All the new stuff there is replacing “on road” asfalt with a brick path at the same level as the sidewalks, “shared spaces” or paths full of tight corners canted the wrong way. They even managed to replace a traffic light that always instantly turned green when you approached by bicycle (if there was no other traffic) with a light that delays action on detection by a few seconds… but shows you how long you have to wait until green…..

    • Klaus Ebinger

      Thanks for your replys so far. During touring I have a lot if time to think about cycling infrastructure. It amazes me that there are a lot dedicated cycle paths in the Netherlands and there many more users compared to Germany. But I’d this the optimal solution? In my opinion… No. Sometimes it really makes sense to have bikes etc in different lanes or guide the traffic on different ways from A to B. But separating the traffic all the time brings a disadvantage and this is really dangerous. The users of the different transport categories stop to learn to live in coexistens. And as soon as the categories are coming together (and it has to sometimes) these points are points of massive conflicts. So what is the solution? Bring the different concepts together where it is possible without prioritise one over the other. I bet the people will might choose the better one.

      • CV

        The solutions is car drivers that are going to think of bicycles as something that might destroy their car and kill them, like is true in the reverse.

        E.g. when parking they always look back when opening a door into a car lane. A lorry might otherwise hook on to that door and completely rip it off and maybe shove them underneath… While opening a car door into a cycle lane is something they do all the time.

        Separation is safer in the straight sections, but more dangerous at intersections.

        Especially cycling on the “wrong side” (bidirectional cyclepath) is dangerous at intersections.

        All in all the Dutch law almost always puts the blame on the car driver. And there is also safety in numbers. All in all, it’s one of the safest countries to cycle.

  4. The “ghost shifting” phenomen can easily be cured by mounting a counterweigt to the derailleur. Works perfectly in my case, no more selfshifting!
    It’s not difficult to mount, I managed it myself too.

    Greetings, Adri.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.