Penelope goes to Wachtendonk

I had my first slightly longer trip on the Velomobile today. It wasn’t going to be very long as I have slightly painful knees, probably as a result of switching to the heavy Versatile, so I wanted to take it easy.

I left the dog feeling very patriotic.

Then it was off out in Penelope the Versatile.

I’ve mostly been heading south since I’ve got here (to Kempen, the nearest town) but decided it would be good to explore the other way, the other side of the motorway that runs a mile or so north of where I now live. Wachtendonk seemed like a good destination – I’d been there several times and there wasn’t much to see but who cares about that!

I didn’t bother plotting a route on my Garmin, I just decided to follow the frequent bicycle path signs.

This was the route I ended up taking:

As you can see, I went the wrong way right at the very start – I did the morning dog walk route heading east before realising that Wachtendonk was to the west  :facepalm:

I turned round and headed off in the correct direction, going along the long road Escheln (also the name of the hamlet where I live) until I reached the main road, Kerkener Strasse

I remembered why it’s not always a good idea to follow cycle path signs, even in cycle-friendly Germany or the Netherlands.

So I got out, wheeled the velomobile between the posts (getting a nettle sting on my sandaled ankle at the same time) and then headed across Kerkener Strasse and through the fields, under the A40 motorway and eventually to Wachtendonk.

Wachtendonk, like lots of places round here, has a cobbled old centre. In the Versatile, with its front suspension, cobbles aren’t as jarring as on Alfie but it all makes a heck of a noise. Wachtendonk seemed rather quiet with no-one around and not many shops open so I rode on, following the cycle route signage as I had half a thought of going to Wankum. I changed my mind about that and decided to do the main road back to Kempen instead, to preserve my knees.

I found myself on a cycle path that wasn’t on my Garmin at all. I had been on it before and remembered it had a narrow bridge but I had managed it with Alfie and Penelope is marginally narrower.

Here is the bridge

It was pretty tight going across but I managed not to scratch my paintwork!

After about a mile of this gravelly track which was OK on the Versatile (would have been mucky on Alfie with no mudguards) I was back at Kempener Strasse, the main road to Kempen, so headed south east on the cycle path beside the road.

I saw a sign to Sankt Hubert which went cross country to the east so decided to do that as a short cut.

I went past a very attractive old building, the lodge for Haus Velde I assume:

And I found some German onion roadkill!

I still have some left over (I brought them with me) from my onion collecting last September so didn’t grab the two whole ones.

I did a bit of a diversion as I approached St Hubert but then decided I might as well pop to Aldi and get something fresh for this evening. I hadn’t brought any plastic bags with me but this doesn’t matter with a velomobile:

Note the mounting for my Garmin. Not ideal but it works OK as long as the sun isn’t too bright. I originally fitted it in place of the Topeak Panoram trip computer directly in front of my face on the VM lid but it wobbled too much as it was heavy and on the end of a metal spar. I’ve put the Topeak Panoram back in place for the time being. I may revisit mounting the Garmin in its place but would need a few more tools to do it (well, I have the tools, but I need one of those mystery boxes of assorted light mounts/fittings/corner widgets and more).

It was then just a short ride home of a mile, by which point my knees were protesting slightly. I think it’s the stop/start riding rather than the distance which makes the knees less happy – I have a long ride on Saturday to the choir practice in Neersen, 13 miles away, but it’s mostly on Landstrassen which are the long, straight roads with cycle paths alongside, so hopefully the 26 miles will be fine. We will see!

Today’s ride was 14.55 miles at an average of 11.2mph which isn’t bad considering the very slow riding through Wachtendonk over all the cobbles, plus several stops to look at things/travel slowly over bridges.


  1. That bridge looks very romantic, reminds me of an equally narow one I had to navigate last sunday ( got lost somewhere between the fields and the woods ) but unlike you I couldn’t get myself to bring the camera out. 🙁

    Maybe you need to get used to the different seat position and that is why your knees play up; I reckon with the beautiful but heavy VM the muscles are stressed in a slightly different way and by trying to compensate one tends to put more stress on the joints than preferrable. It usually happens to me when I do not shift down early enough and push more than I really should.

    1. Yes, I’m trying to spin (use lower gears) more with Penelope as I’ve always been a bit of a grinder (using high gears) with my ICE trikes.

      The interesting thing is that my heart rate hasn’t gone above 148 whilst riding Penelope (on Alfie going up hills in Essex I’ve got up to 196 a few months ago!) so I’m not working really hard in terms of cardio-vascular effort but I am using my knees more than they like!

      I shall try to be more gentle when starting off from stationary – I think that’s probably a significant culprit in my achy knees – as well as when climbing in and out.

  2. also a millimeter in seat position does make a lot of difference. one of the tricks is to go even slower in coming up to speed, get to about 25 km/h which is when the streamline starts to work, take the pressure off the pedals and start spinning. if you go below 25 km/h you’re primarily dragging the streamline. it needs speed to work.

  3. Another super blog Aunty Helen, I’m so pleased you’re having fun, I’m still waiting for your blog saying that you’d stopped for a Bratwurst mit mayo.

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