Rhein-Maas Tour: Day 4 – ‘s-Hertogenbosch to Boxmeer

Today the weather forecast was at last for a relatively dry day, a much nicer prospect than the seemingly-unending drizzle or rain of the last few days.

Our hotel had a very expensive breakfast (nearly 15 Euros each) so we decided not to bother with that but to get something whilst on our way.

Here is our track for today – you will see a little stick at the bottom which was our detour to Overloon. More later.

We set off at about nine after I did a small bit of maintenance to my left hand brake which had decided to stop working the day before. All easily fixed and we were on our way in dry weather – my waterproof jacket was packed away in my pannier at last!

Klaus had planned this route to follow the Waal a little way before we headed south towards Boxmeer, and almost straight away we found ourselves on a diversion as a bridge we wanted to cross was closed. This was not a bad thing as the route that continued on our side of the river was rather lovely, a high quality track and almost no traffic.

It included a few off-road sections which were fine in the trikes on a dry day but do use more energy!

Eventually we came to another bridge and were able to cross after our diversion.

As we had cycled nearly 20km and the plan for the day was just 58 it seemed like a good time to stop for some cake. So we headed off our route to the town of Heeswijk-Dinther, crossing this excellently-named stream on the way…

The first bakery we stopped at had no seating and no hot drinks so we continued on and found a café that had an interesting selection of cakes.

We ordered hot drinks and cakes and I also decided to have a croissant for my breakfast.

I chose this nutty creamy cake thing.

Klaus and Claudia had these strawberry and cream tart thingies.

After a decent break of half an hour or so it was time to carry on, riding to intercept our original route which of course didn’t go 100% to plan so we did a slight bit extra. We are getting used to this!

Klaus’s back wheel was behaving a bit oddly so he thought he might need to tighten up the axle so we had a quick pit stop for bike maintenance.

In fact the axle was fully tight and he couldn’t get to the bottom of it so just carried on.

I loved these silvery leaves which were shaking in the wind. Fortunately today the wind was mostly behind us, a nice change from yesterday’s killer headwind!

We now had a section which was very off-roady but was worth it as we were cycling past the Military Airfield Volkel and saw a couple of Eurofighters in the air earlier.

This photo shows the Airfield control tower.

We continued on and I took this photo of the Trikes next to the runway landing lights.

We waited around for a bit hoping to see a plane or two coming in to land but nothing seemed to be happening and then a young family passing in a car told us the planes wouldn’t fly again for an hour. So it was time to carry on.

We were doing very well time-wise with only another 18km to do and it wasn’t yet one o’clock. I then had a brainwave – why not visit Overloon? I had gone there by bike on my birthday with Klaus, Uli and Jochen but we hadn’t looked around the war museum as we didn’t have time; Boxmeer (our hotel stop) was probably only 10km from Overloon and we would arrive in Boxmeer stupidly early with nothing to do, so the decision was made to divert to Overloon and visit the museum.

This did mean that unfortunately we didn’t pass through the village of St Hubert which Klaus had especially routed us through with the original route to Boxmeer. But I photographed the road sign. Home from home!

We were now following my Garmin which plotted us a direct route to Overloon which meant on cycle paths next to main roads. But, as is to be expected in the Netherlands, these were very good paths.

I saw this windmill and realised I hadn’t seen very many on this trip. It seems I must just be particularly in observant at the moment as Klaus says he has seen several over the last few days.

My companions couldn’t work out why I had stopped to photograph this shop sign. I assume most English readers will understand why!

We arrived at Overloon at two o’clock and left our luggage in the reception area for the museum. We had a lunch of baguette and some drinks before paying our 15 Euro admission to the exhibition.

There is lots to see in this museum, including a large array of military vehicles from the Second World War and beyond. They had a Spitfire, a B=52 and a V1 Rocket as well. But I was extremely moved by this Churchill tank.

One of the poppy wreaths was in memory of ‘Dad’ and there was a document beside the wreath explaining that one of the tank crew had been in this particular tank when it had been damaged and his fellow crew were injured or killed. The soldier came regularly to Overloon Museum to pay his respects to his dead crew-mates before his death. A reminder that these aren’t just exhibits in a museum but that they have their own stories to tell of the sadness and destruction of war.

I was extremely impressed by this huge amphibious vehicle. The tyres were taller than I was!

We stayed at the museum until closing time as they had lots of other exhibits which made for very interesting reading. The two hours we had there wasn’t enough so it will be definitely worthwhile to come for another visit sometime.

We had just under 10km to our hotel in Boxmeer and so set off along some quiet lanes, eventually arriving at Klooster Elsendael. Which was a lovely former convent.

My room.

This was its name – I am guessing this means Sister Constansia

We wandered into Boxmeer dodging a rain shower to find some food for the evening and ended up in a good value pizza place.

On our return Claudia and I had a look around the chapel.

This is a beautiful hotel and also very good value – I think my room is 62 Euros (without breakfast).

There is a large lounge area where I am sitting to type this report and there are lots of little touches that give reminders of the past for this building.

We had cycled 76km today (instead of the planned 58) but it had been a lovely ride with different landscape than some of the previous day’s, plus the advantage of not seeing it through the rain.

Tomorrow is a longer day, more than 80km to Roermond, with some rain forecast as well but hopefully all will go smoothly. We’ve ridden the route in bits and pieces before and know that it’s good so it should be an enjoyable penultimate day’s ride.

The visit to Overloon did change our mood somewhat to a more sombre feeling. I was extremely moved by what I read there and realising that we were cycling all over landscape that saw battles, death and destruction in World War Two makes us for grateful that all we have as a result of the sacrifices of others.

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