Thursday 14 June 2018
Following our issues with the battery charger yesterday I sent an email to Velomobiel.nl asking them to send a replacement charger to Alex in Rotterdam (we would be seeing him on Sunday). They said that was no problem but I was still a bit nervous (don’t know how reliable the Dutch postal service is) so I decided to ride today without using the battery. I would need it tomorrow when riding in Den Haag as indicators and brake lights are very important in a city. Today we would be mostly on cycle paths outside towns.
Here is our planned track for the day:
This route would take us over the Afsluitdijk which I rode a couple of years ago on the trike with Kajsa Tylén when she was doing her Guinness World Record year. I remember it as very insecty and windy!
It’s a very impressive engineering feat but at almost 30km long it’s actually a bit dull to ride across.
But first we had to get there. It was just 10km from Harlingen to Zurich where the Afsluitdijk starts.
The wind was very strong and we knew some rain was forecasted later. When we actually got onto the dike and were exposed to the full force of the headwind, our main thoughts were with the few cyclists that we passed. Riding an upright bike in that wind?????
Here you can see Millie’s tail reflected in Humphrey’s tail.
Although it would have been nice to whizz along the Afsluitdijk, with a 40 km/h headwind that wasn’t really possible. We managed around 23-25 km/h overall.
At that speed you see quite a lot. There were kite surfers doing tricks, Klaus had a cormorant fly alongside him, we passed a few cyclists clearly on tours with heavy bags. They were struggling when going in our direction, the other direction was obviously very easy!
You can see the sea to the left of the cycle path, on the right it’s just a large green dike with sheep grazing.
Here is a Video I took. It’s not that good but gives you an idea of the windiness!
About three quarters of the way across there is a monument to Mr Lely who built it.
At the other end of the Afsluitdijk is Den Oever. I had been here before looking for food and found one so this time we had already planned to cycle to the next town, Hippolytushoef which looked larger so would hopefully have somewhere for our lunch stop.
A bit of on-the-fly navigation when I missed a turn didn’t work out quite as well as expected!
We were soon out of Den Oever and riding through countryside which looked remarkably English. Tree and hedge-lined roads which were narrow and without road markings. It was also very slightly rolling, not the pan flat that we have been used to so far. However, there were hardly any cars so this was less like an English country lane!
At Hippolytushoef we did indeed find somewhere to stop for lunch after asking at a coffee shop (which had no food except light biscuits so not enough for the halfway stop for hungry cyclists!) We ended up at a nice cafe where we started with soup.
And then had a cake course.
We had several drinks too. When cycling into a headwind it seems to really dry you out and you need to keep hydrated. Although the day was much cooler (16 degrees) we were still thirsty.
As we left the cafe there were a few spots of rain but nothing much to trouble us.
Shortly after this we were crossing our next dike, separating the Amstelmeer and called the Amsteldiepdijk. It was much shorter, only a couple of kilometres, but equally windy!
We were now heading south west towards the strangely-named town of Anna Paulowna, at which point we turned off the main road and did a bit of cross-country. We passed this lovely thatched windmill.
We soon made our way to the coast where we had dunes to the right, flatlands to the left and a huge headwind in front of us. We were struggling to ride at more than 20 km/h at times. It was very tiring and we couldn’t begin to imagine how awful it would have been if we weren’t in velomobiles.
As we passed Sint Maartensvotbrug we saw a campsite reception and stopped there to see if they had a cafe. I needed the loo and we fancied another short stop before the last 30km to Egmond. Not only did they have a cafe, but for the first time in NL my tea was free! I also topped up the energy with a Magnum.
We were on the road again before long. At Petten the route we wanted to take wasn’t possible – there was no cycle path beside the road and the road had very firm No Cycling signs. So we had to reroute on the fly and ended up going inland and along the N9 for a while. This was actually fine as the wide cycle path was separated from the road by 10 metres or so.
The wind was incredibly strong and gusty now though. Velomobiles are very stable but we were getting pushed from side to side. It was good that the road surface was reasonably smooth as that at least helped us to keep up a speed of 23 km/h or so. The rain had started and raindrops hitting you whilst being whipped by the wind are quite painful!
At Schoorl it was time to rejoin our original track. The rain was set in now, we were both feeling a bit damp but it was otherwise OK. I kept thinking I should plug in my lights as the rain made everything gloomy but never got round to stopping to do so. We were on cycle paths some of the time, the road a little too.
We went round the edge of Bergen which looks like a nice town except they have either brick as a road surface or the cycle path has lots of roots making it bumpy. But we survived!
Shortly afterwards my Garmin showed we had reached Germany!
The final five kilometres from Bergen Binnen to. Egmond aan den Hoef were on a nice smooth cycle path with trees either side. We rolled easily up and down the rollers on this track; the only disadvantage with slight hills is that rain drops onto my legs from the hinge area of my entry flap on the Milan.
At Egmond aan den Hoef we turned back towards the sea at Egmond aan Zee and soon found our apartment.
I had emailed saying that if there was nowhere to store the velomobiles could he tell us. It turned out that he had emailed a reply saying they didn’t have a garage but I hadn’t received it. Oh well, we were able to leave them in a small seating area in front of the apartment and I used Millie’s new cover to keep the rain off her. One disadvantage with the rain and wind was that Humphrey’s tracker detected movement alarms every few hours; we could see him if we leaned out of our window and there was never anyone there.
I felt rather tired after the ride and had a little sleep. I didn’t feel like going out for a meal so Klaus walked to the supermarket down the road and bought us some salad, fruit salad and some chocolate. We had a meal in our Apartment (we have a small kitchen) and kept out of the rain.
Tomorrow’s forecast is for sunshine and 20 degrees so that is an improvement! We will be riding to Den Haag where we will have a rest day on Saturday. Alex will hopefully deliver the battery charger on Saturday too!