Today’s plan was a 68km ride from Nijmegen to ‘s-Hertogenbosch (also known as Den Bosch) and chum Alex who lives in Rotterdam and sold me Penelope said he would join us for some of the ride.
After a delayed breakfast (there was a problem with the rolls, apparently) we set off from the Boat\Circus\Funfair at nine in the morning. It started raining as we fetched our bikes from their storage area and this was the theme for the day.
We saw this rather wonderful bike as part of the Fair, with a prow of a boat on the front. Can’t say I’ve seen one of those before!
Here is a map of where we rode today, following the Waal river and then joining the Maas.
Within 500 metres of our start point we were on a very high quality bike route which was to take us over the river on a bridge, although it took us a little while to work out how to get onto this elevated path.
As we passed onto the bridge over the water we went through these posh towers.
The track that Klaus had prepared had us leaving the bridge down what turned out to be steps so we gave that a miss. It looked as though there were some new paths and we ended up missing a turning (my fault) and although it looked as though our route would join up with the planned route it didn’t so after a 4 kilometre detour we were finally on the correct route. You can see this in the map below.
This was an impressive bridge over the Waal. I do like the Dutch bridges, they are beautiful as well as functional.
I had been exchanging messages with Alex to let him know our progress and it looked as though we would reach our planned meeting point at the Waal crossing at Druten before him. The rain and strong headwind had sapped our strength a bit so it was definitely time for a cuppa, but first we needed to cross the river…
This was the jetty or landing stage for the ferry but the ferry didn’t come. After reading the notice to check the ferry was running today (it was) I phoned the number and spoke to someone who didn’t seem to understand English but got the message as the ferry started to head towards us.
This ticket was much more colourful than the one in Germany at Rees…
We asked the ferry operator if there was somewhere good for food and he said yes, behind the church. So we went to the church that we saw when heading into town and there was no food place behind it, so we asked a lady watering her front garden and she said there was another church, and indeed there was and it had several cafes behind it. We stopped at a likely looking one!
The choice was very good and the food very tasty. I had a curry soup.
Followed by this Goats Cheese and Walnut Baguette
After we had finished the soup Alex appeared, having ridden over from Rotterdam on his upright bike. He had some soup too and a coffee and we had a great chat.
After about an hour it was time to go on and Alex would ride with us. The rain began again as we left the café and we set off along the streets of this sleepy town. As Alex and I were faster Klaus said we should head off on our own as we all had the same track as it was tricky to keep to the right speed. So we rode ahead enjoying a good chinwag.
I loved looking at the landscape and hearing lots from Alex about the history of the area, how the Waterships are organised and more. He is a fount of knowledge!
With about 20km until ‘s-Hertogenbosch we decided it might be time to stop to wait for the others and we saw two chaps sitting on a bench with touring bicycles so decided to stop and talk to them.
Giovanni and Joyce (named this as his father was a fan of James Joyce) were from Italy and they chatted to us about their tour so far, from Switzerland and finishing in Amsterdam. They were interested in my trike and I told them also about Penelope, saying that Alex had sold her to me.
Giovanni had a selfie stick and so we took a picture of us all.
Here is Giovanni looking at our bikes.
And here was his rain protection which he laid over the handlebars and the panniers at the back as extra waterproofing.
He also had a rather novel form of overshoes…
Giovanni took this picture of me contemplating the rain clouds…
We exchanged Facebook details and Joyce wrote the following about me (at least I think it is!!!!):
In una delle poche pause incontriamo Helen, una ragazza cicloviaggiatrice, che nonostante la sua disabilità continua a viaggiare con una speciale bicicletta. Il tempo di scambiare quattro chiacchiere con lei ed il suo amico e ripartiamo. Anche la pioggia ci concede una pausa.
Alex had fetched me a hot water for tea and we sat and drank and chatted to the chaps before they decided to move on. Barely a minute later Klaus and Claudia hove into view, it was a real shame they had missed meeting the Italians.
They were keen for a break from the rain and evil headwind so we went into the café where Alex had bought my hot water and this time had some apple cake.
Hot drinks were also helpful to thaw Claudia out a bit as she was finding the rain was rather chilling her.
Before we set off we took a selfie of us four – no selfie stick this time, just my reasonably long arm.
Once again Klaus and Claudia suggested that Alex and I rode on ahead so we did, enjoying the challenge of the headwind and maintaining a reasonable pace for the remaining 20km. Which included another ferry.
This one a bargain at 80 cents each…
Crossing this relatively narrow bit of river, the Maas now.
Today’s hotel was a former convent and had apparently only been open for five weeks. When new arrived I did the initial check-in and then said goodbye to Alex who was heading home (mostly by train as he had already done over 150km in the rain and with lots of headwind). He had also had a close encounter with a sheep on his way to meet us which resulted in a fall and this rather grazed knee. But he survived to tell us about it!
This was the most expensive hotel so far with my bill for a single room at 105 Euros. But we had some free meringue thingies called “Nuns’ Kisses”. Hmmmm
A bit of exploring and I found one of the former chapels…
Which was now repurposed as a meeting room. With gallery above, which was cool!
Klaus and Claudia had arrived by the time I finished my shower and clothes washing. We decided to eat in the restaurant here which was a set meal of Paprika soup followed by pork. It was very tasty and well laid out.
Of course we couldn’t resist the dessert of lemon cake with blackberry ice cream!
After the meal I went for a short walk around the lake to work off some of the calories. Den Bosch seems rather nice and the cycling infrastructure as we came into the town was amazing – special bicycle-only bridges over the motorways and always segregated paths. The Netherlands is an excellent place to cycle – as long as you don’t mind headwinds on days like today!
Despite having rain pretty much the whole day I had a fantastic time and really enjoyed seeing the landscape, riding against the wind and chatting to my friends. Cycling touring is always relaxing and enjoyable and it was a great day all in all. Tomorrow should be shorter and drier which is a relief! We will be heading back eastwards to Boxmeer.