Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I set out from Gorinchem at 1pm for the shortest days riding so far – just 47km.
At least it should have been, but for an incorrect signpost that gave me a 6km round trip into a dead-end road running along the wrong side of the motorway. It looked there had once been access to an underpass, but I wasn’t about to try scaling the 12ft fence with razorwire.
That sort of thing had got me into trouble before.
Arriving in Rotterdam I promptly jumped on a train to Amsterdam where I’d arranged to meet a friend from our round the world travels for dinner and a few beers.
I’ve been to Amsterdam a number of times, but never had the luxury of my own bike – and what a difference it really does make. Everywhere can be reached within just a few minutes, and the dutch transport system really does favour the cyclist above all other modes of transport.
When cycling is safe and convenient, it is without a doubt the best way of getting around.
I woke quite early the next morning, with only one thing on my mind. I could not go back to sleep without doing something about it.
Where on earth was my bike?
I’d ridden to meet Chrissy the evening before, and after having a few drinks sensibly started walking back with the bike. However part way home and needing an excuse to use the toilet facilities of a bar, I’d inadvertantly stopped for another drink.
The only problem was that when I left the bar went to retrieve my bike it wasn’t quite where I thought I had left it, and despite a further 30 minutes of searching every available bike stand within a reasonable radius of where I thought it was, I just couldn’t find it.
I’d decided to leave it until daylight, hoping that and a clearer head would improve my chances.
I didn’t really think my bike had been stolen – it was secured with a very good lock – but in a city where millions of bicycles are chained up at any given moment not knowing where it is was was tantamount to pretty much the same thing.
I was so worried I even formulated an alternate strategy for completing the ride.
It involved buying the cheapest wackiest bike I could find and riding it to Hoek van Holland for the final 32km of the ride. For some reason I had a bright green tricycle in mind.
So, at 7.15am the next morning I set about looking for my missing bike.
I find it utterly amazing that what I could not find it 30 minutes of looking the previous evening, I was able to find so easily within 30 seconds of starting to look in the same location in daylight. It was still very early morning but I was so elated I did what anyone else would have done.
I decided to join in the morning commute for a bike ride around Amsterdam and Vondel Park.
It was the first time in ages that I had ridden any distance without the weight of panniers, and the cycling was easy, brisk and enjoyable. I ended up spending the entire morning cycling round Amsterdam, and really enjoyed it despite these not being kilometers I needed to complete.
Lunch, a quick tour of Chrissy’s new offices and it was time to head back to Rotterdam to pick up the trail for the final leg of the journey.
On the way I recieved a message from another friend enquiring ‘on an off chance’ whether I would be in Rotterdam that evening as she would be there on business.
We planned to meet for a quick beer, but in the end an incident involving the zipper on a skirt (which I don’t yet fully understand) prevented us from connecting. It sounds like it will be an interesting story when I get to hear it.
I headed out of Rotterdam at 6.30pm last night, with just 28km separating me from my goal.
This time I didn’t get lost once, and I took the bike as far as I could reaching the strand (beach) just before 8.30pm.
It had been a fairly overcast day, but the sun was starting to make some interesting colours in the sky to provide one last photo opportunity for the trip.
It felt really good to have completed the distance, but just a little bit sad not to be carrying on.
Distances covered, 53km and 32km (85km total)
Time, 2hrs 20mins (all ride time)
Total distance covered, 1667km
The keen eyed amongst you will notice that the total distance means I have covered over 1,000 miles in a total of 15 days (of which 13 were ride days).
I would like to thank you all for your generous donations, which have taken the total to over £2,800 plus gift aid as I write this.
It just needs twelve more people to donate 1p for each kilometer cycled, and we will reach the £3,000 mark. If you haven’t already donated and would like to, please click the link for the Just Giving page.
It was good to see a friendly face in Amsterdam.
But it was also quite hard having to break the news about why I was doing the trip to someone for the first time in a couple of weeks.
Having to get up early and look for my bike cost me a much needed lie-in. You would have thought it was the last thing I would want to do, but no, cycling round Amsterdam in rush hour was great fun.
I think the first bit might be a bit hilly
Day 2 – Chur to Rorschach and lunching in Lichtenstein
Day 3 – Rorschach to Shaffhausen and the need for professional help
Day 4 – Schaffausen to Basel and the end of the Swiss section
Day 6 – Strasbourg to Karlsruhe
Day 7 – Karlsruhe to Goddelau and more getting lost
Day 8 – Goddelau to Koblenz on a spoke and a prayer
Day 9 – Koblenz to Cologne, the day I hit the wall
Day 10 – moving North from Cologne
Day 11 – Nijmegen to Gorinchem, clogging it along the dijks
Day 12-13 Gronichem to Hoek van Holland and the end of the Rhine
An amazing blog Mark, really wonderful.I was a bit disappointed to note that I did the first of my two Rhine trips within a couple of weeks of you…We came so close to crossing paths!! But mine was a little easier than yours, I invested in a cycle computer with satellite navigation. On occasions I got lost when the route was inaccurate, but overall it was smooth sailing, so to speak. I hope that you’ve found a new partner, and I hope you’ve kept up the riding/touring spirit, although, this time I hope you had some maps. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Hi Wayne – thanks for the nice comment. Yes I still do like to ride/tour, but I’m afraid I don’t have the same opportunities with two small boys (which answers your other question!). I’m still for doing it all without bike-nav or cycle maps, but I do lean on Google maps on my iPhone from time to time! Cheers, Mark