Friday 15 June 2018
Spotted by a friend this morning, our tour is mentioned on Ligfiets.net:
This was our planned route for the day:
We slept well and had a bit more of a lie in as breakfast didn’t start until 8:30. Although there were some odd things about the hotel, the breakfast was very good. We set off about quarter past nine.
Our Vrienden op de Fiets host for Den Haag said she had to go out at 16:30 so asked if we could arrive by then. this should of course be easy, it was only 87km.
However, the start of the ride was quite hard going. Getting out of Egmond was OK as we rode alongside a main road and then beside the N512 which headed towards Castricum. It was when we turned off at Castricum that the fun started – more brick paved road surfaces.
Riding among the dunes is very pretty and peaceful but we had a very long stretch on this surface. At the beginning of the ride I felt that something was wrong with my front right wheel; there was a small amount of play in it so I wondered if it was the bearing, but it was only really noticeable under braking load when it juddered. We stopped and had another look after 15km and realised the other wheel had the same level of play in it, so it probably wasn’t a bearings issue. We checked the steering arms etc and everything was tight. But it had improved with use so I think it was probably that the bike got wet and I kept the brake on overnight. Maybe it slightly seized/rusted.
Halfway along our first sand dune stretch we stopped to climb up for a panorama view.
Lots of green as far as the eye could see.
And two little velomobiles waiting patiently for us.
Here is Mr Grumpy enjoying the fresh air.
We carried on and it was more bumpy path. I can’t maintain a high speed on this sort of surface, I am lucky to be able to get up to 20 km/h.
We saw lots of birds, dragonflies etc but also some rather lovely cattle with impressive horns. They don’t seem to know the Green Cross Code so we had to verbally encourage them to get out of the way.
After Wijk aan Zee we were back on a decent road surface but now had the alternative issue of the cycle path changing sides and us not always knowing where to go. We rode around Beverwijk and then headed to Velsen-Noord. It was at this point that I took a wrong turn and realised after 10 metres and stopped. The road was too narrow to do a 3-point (or 12-point) turn so I was about to get out but Klaus said I should stay sitting as he would turn me round. We have done this before – he lifts the back of the VM and can turn me round 180 degrees.
Only this time… PING!!!
A familiar noise – I had heard it a couple of months ago. The sound of a spoke breaking. And indeed it was a broken spoke in my right front wheel now (previously it has been the left front wheel). Oh well, I rode the last tour with a broken spoke, it’s no major issue except… our penultimate day is planned to be mega hilly. I have to seriously consider whether I should ride this because of the load on the brakes for the downhills. I was a bit dubious about doing it anyway. We will see how things go, and undoubtedly when we get back to Kempen we will twist Jochen’s arm to change yet another spoke for me!
We were on the right path again which led us to a ferry crossing over the Binnentoeleidingskanaal that goes from Amsterdam to the sea. This ferry was free of charge, and unlike the ferries near we we live there weren’t steep ramps either side. It was virtually a level entrance and exit.
Another minor navigation error by Klaus after we left the ferry meant that we had a short tour of the parking area of a large college. It’s hard from the low down position of the Velomobile to see where the cycle paths go; we regularly have to trailblaze a new route, which almost always involves too-sharp corners for the Milan followed by multiple Drempels (sleeping policemen) where the Milan scrapes with a very expressive noise. I’ve lost count of the amount of time I have heard this noise on the tour.
Back on track again we were wending our way around Driehuis which involved bumpy cycle paths, drempels, awkward corners etc. This ride was hard work!
We passed Santpoort-Zuid and then found ourselves in Bloemendaal; we had visited here a couple of weeks ago by car with the dog. We were able to ride faster in Bloemendaal as the cycle paths were much better quality and there was quite a lot on the road anyway.
After Bloemendaal we arrived at Overveen where our route turned back towards the sea and the dunes.
I had been calculating our likely arrival time in Den Haag and it wasn’t looking good. Although 87km should not be too difficult, I calculated that it had taken us two and a half hours to cycle just 35km. Our average speed was around 19 km/h, it was all the stops and starts that were taking time. If we continued at this rate we couldn’t afford to stop for lunch.
At Overveen we had the choice to just follow the main road to Den Haag. Probably very unattractive but a bit less time-critical. We thought about it and decided to go for the dunes route. Both Gabi and Alex had told us it was OK and this was part of the route that I had really been looking forward to.
Decision made, suddenly the cycle path quality was really good and we zoomed along. Here is an impressive crossing for wildlife… I am on the cycle path, the road is on the right. We could cruise this path at 35 and started making up some time.
We reached Bloemendaal aan Zee and then zoomed along on a really decent cycle path/busway towards Zaandvoort. We were feeling much more relaxed about our schedule now, it seemed like we might manage it after all! Our average speed crept up to 22km/h.
At Zandvoort it was time to ride back into the dunes again. If this would be bricks again it would be a real effort for me. Fortunately it was instead a very decent surface, but they decided to put a little barrier in just to inconvenience us some more!
This was the view straight past the Draengelgitter… a cattle grid and then the open dunes.
So off we went, very quickly getting to a decent speed. At one point we overtook two lady roadies – on a slight incline! I was very proud of myself but had too keep ahead of them which involved a bit more effort than I usually make when touring.
Klaus was enjoying the speed, and we both liked the cooling of the air as we had been riding slow for so long and the day was warm. It was rolling dunes so the chance to build up some speed on the downhill and hope it was enough forward momentum to get to the top of the next climb.
This was a very long sector, I think over 20km, and although not too busy we were passing everyone going the same way as us and sometimes having to reduce to crawling speed when there was too much traffic coming the other way for us to overtake.
Then suddenly as we were rounding the Noordwijk Golf Club the road surface changed to packed gravel. But this was actually OK and we were able to maintain speed.
We arrived in Noordwijk aan Zee with just 25km to go to Den Haag and it wasn’t even 13:30. We had time for refreshment and picked an ice cream place.
I checked my phone and saw a message from Alex who was riding today and was just north of Noordwijk. He wondered where we were – I suggested he came for an ice cream, so after about 15 minutes he turned up in the Little While Whale (Quest XS). With our second round of drinks we got mini ice creams too!
Alex lives in Rotterdam but said he would ride back to Den Haag with us, so off we went, a group of three velomobiles, into the dunes again.
In checking the map to write this blog I notice we crossed the Rijn (Rhein) just before Katwijk aan Zee. I didn’t notice this at the time.
The road surface was mostly good and we rolled well, although Klaus had a bad attack of cramp in his foot which meant he couldn’t pedal hard for a little while. He soon caught up though.
And then we were back on brick paving AGAIN. Klaus and Alex were off ahead and I was struggling along on the bricks. This time they really slowed me down. I guess I was a bit undernourished too! I stopped to text our Vrienden op de Fiets host to say we were 10km away.
When we got to Scheveningen Alex went on his separate way home and Klaus and I had our first experience of riding a Velomobile in the city of Den Haag. Not too bad really, except for some roots that had lifted up sections of the cycle path. But we were able to make reasonable progress following the purple line on our Garmins.
And then we arrived!
Our host and her husband had cleared a section in their garage so we could fit the bikes.
First we got all our luggage out. Klaus is carrying everything except the black Velomobile bag on the left. He variously calls himself the Pack Mule or Sherpa. I think he is my hero for carrying my red bag with my 3 changes of cycle clothing (luxury!) And my stock of teabags.
The bikes fitted fine in the fantastic garage. It had everything in it!
We were given a lovely room on the top floor with a view out onto the road. Also a very useful place to hang our washing!
We had a kettle and fridge in our room but no milk so I popped round the corner to the supermarket to get some Kaffeesahne milk thingies. While I was there I bought some fruit and yoghurt for our dessert and then went across the road to the Indian takeaway and got a reasonable but expensive Saag (spinach) lamb curry with naan bread for us to share.
I had also bought a cake in the supermarket as we hadn’t had one all day. In fact, our only food on the ride was the ice creams.
Total distance ridden today was 86.9km at a final average of 20.9km/h. My average heart rate was higher at 130 which doesn’t surprise me as there were some tricky roads and lots of accelerations which really don’t suit my low power style of riding.
It looks like we are in a great place for the next two days as we have a rest day tomorrow. We will probably visit Delft by train (we will let the velomobiles have a day off!) and then on Sunday we will head south to Middelburg and Alex will probably accompany us on some of that route. We expect to see him tomorrow when the charger for the Velomobile lights hopefully arrives at his house – he will then deliver it to us and we will have electrics again! I rode today without brake light or indicators and although it is manageable I will be happy to have them available again.