Tuesday, 27 July 2010

My Dutch trip - The ride itself Pt 2 - 3

Day 2
After eating, getting showered and having just over 4hrs sleep we were woken up for the 2nd day.
Bleary eyed and with tired legs me and Adam were off heading north out of Maastricht for day 2.
The route headed into Germany for a short while then followed the Maas up through the Netherlands before going back into Germany again and skirting around the Dusseldorf area before crossing the Rhine and riding through the Naturpark Hohe Mark.

The routesheet and GPS seemed to match on this section and the great weather meant we were flying along deciding to use garage controls along the way for a quicker turn around.
Oirlo - Rhade passed quite quickly and we were just wondering about a garage control when we passed a car in a field, Adam shouted to me as we passed that it was a control.
It wasn't a control but was a stop where we could fill up our bottles and rest for a bit, after a section with a bit of climbing this was most welcome.

Another stop at a garage at Hengelo for more food and clothes for the evening section it was back on the bike for the last section of the day to Zwolle.
The ride through the National park area south east of Zwolle was great, just a shame it was dark and nothing could be seen.
The roads were still good and traffic free but with no moon it was pitch black, we managed to keep a reasonable speed up due to the track on my GPS showing corners and me calling them out to Adam in front. The hills there were slowing me down though and Adam had broken his front gear changer so was on the big ring for the rest of the ride.
The only dodgy section on this part was the recently gravelled surface for what felt like ages (probably only about 1km) that was really hard work to keep the bike upright on. Every false move had the back wheel squirming all over the place.
We were glad to get to the town and the lights of the hall at 02.20 on Friday morning.
Rough calc's showed we had about 35hrs to do 280km, we were quite pleased with that.
Showered, feed and find a mat to sleep on all by 03.00.

Day 3
Another day awake at 07.00 and away for 07.30 to head northwards this time to Groningen.
We'd not gone far when Adam had a puncture, easily fixed and away again through the picturesque villages. Great looking but annoying cobbles!!!
The only way to ride over them was as fast as possible but with 900km in your legs this is easier said than done.
After turning right along another canal we had a stonking tailwind which meant we were cruising along at 40kph with ease finding ourselves at Groningen at lunchtime, again well ahead of schedule.
More food and water and it was then into the wind along a long section of canal. It seemed to go on for ages and the wind didn't let off all the way to Wartena (S/E Leeuwarden)
The control was in a football club and the food was cooked for us when we got there, we even had a shot of some spirit that definitely warmed us up.
We discussed staying there getting drunk, sleeping and still having time to ride in the morning and finish :-)
We thanked the controllers though and pushed on back into the wind for the final section.

Again another tiring section not helped by the deluge we got from another storm as we passed by a huge lake and over another dyke. Nowhere to hide across there we just put our heads down and rode over. The finish was in sight and after another soaking we arrived back at Zwolle at 21.11 on Friday evening.
Just under 17hrs still of the time limit left so we were both happy, I think we may have been the first foreigners (non dutch) to get back and about midfield.
Shower food and sleep was really needed now.

I got up at about 9 on Saturday morning and riders were coming in all morning.
I had a leisurely breakfast and headed for the station for a train south.
A quick call home was made and arrangements for the evening were made with family in Monster about 10km north of Hoek van Holland.
I managed to get out of Den Haag and find my way there with a few phone calls for directions, a great evening of Chinese and red wine was had then it was up and head south for the ferry the next day.

The crossing going well but quite long, we had hoped for a quick departure off the ferry and a sprint to the station for the train. The timings of the ferry and the trains here aren't good and it was an hrs wait for the next one.

Adam headed off to London and me towards Ipswich at Manningtree, another long wait couldhave been on the cards there waiting for the next train to Needham Market but there was one to Stowmarket about to leave.
A short ride from there was better than a long wait so I jumped on.
It wasn't long before I was at a friends having cider and a welcome bed for the night.

Back on the train again the next morning, this time heading for Cambridge and the 75km ride home from there. All uneventful but a bit slower than usual.

Total riding for the week was about 1400km, I was feeling ok the next day so it was back on the bike for a weeks commuting all be it a bit slower.

GPS track 2
GPS track 3

More photo's from my ride companion Adam.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

My Dutch trip - The ride itself (pt 1)

After looking at all of the bikes and velomobiles arriving at the start (pics at bottom), dinner was eaten and we were all lined up ready to go.
20.00 was the start time and we had a lead out with cars at either end as we rolled along the dual carriageway ring-road.
It was the best audax start I've ever done probably only second to PBP (next year!)
Once we were out of the town we followed cycle-paths N/westwards around the Ijsselmeer and along the Afsluitdijk a 32km dike stopping the sea flooding the area.
I'd been riding mainly on my own along this part as I'd had a puncture and had lost the group but after leaving one group I joined up with Hector (a Greek lad) and we positively flew along here at about 40kph.

After the food stop at Den Oever we (Me, Hector and Adam) headed south passing close to Amsterdam and Den Haag in the dark so no sightseeing. Crossing the Noordzeekanaal as the sun was rising and eventually arriving at Maasdijk at 9.30 for breakfast.
The day was getting hotter and after food and bottle filling (many times!) and application of suncream we were on our way again for ferry number 2 at Maasluis.

The temps were up in the 30s and it was hard to find water stops filling our bottles up at garages when needed. The ride around the paths and park area was lovely and the cycle tunnel under the Maas with glass lifts was brilliant.
The 400km control came rather quickly at Geertruidenberg at just after 15.00 (19hrs) Still in the middle of the field but making good time.

The sky started to darken a bit after we crossed into Belgium and we hid under an underpass at just the right time as the heavens opened. Apparently the storm was one of the worse the area has had for a number of years with trees being uprooted and caravans being turned over.
This made the ride towards Maastricht slow as all the cyclepaths had branches and trees all over them.
Navigation was a bit dodgy also with the routesheet not matching the gps, the track on the latter sending us across fields and along unpaved canal banks. Hector decided to go along a road that didn't allow cycling, me and Adam found another route to the control.
We eventually got to Maastricht a couple of hours later than expected at 01.00 tired and a bit irritable due to the navigation issues.
I was pleased though with a distance of 564km in 29hrs.

Bikely route part1

Various bike at the start (crappy phone pics)

My Dutch trip Days 1-3

Day 1 (Sun)

Started with me leaving home at about 11.00 and rinding over to Cambridge station. I got there in just over 3hrs with a good tailwind all the way but on arrival I had to wait 1.45hrs for the next train, the first seemingly canceled.

Train journey was without hitch and I got to Harwich with hrs to spare.

I rode around Harwich for a bit, ate fish and chips on the sea front and spent a couple of hrs in the pub before embarking on the ferry and finding my cabin for a shower food and sleep.

Leaving Harwich

Day 2 (Mon)

Disembarking was again without hitch, as cycles were off first and the first train was waiting at the port.

Trains in the Netherlands were rather good for bikes, you have to buy a day ticket for them (6euro) but you can use them on all services without booking a place. It was a bit busy when I was on there but we managed to get on ok. Trains were frequent anyway so it wouldn't have been a hardship to wait for the next one.

Arrived in Zwolle about midday so had plenty of time to kill and after getting the courage to cycle away from the station, I was away and trying to find my way around town.

I found the start location for the ride the next day so it was then around the ring road to find the hotel.

The first storm of the ride got me on the way around and I arrived soaked through. Luckily it was ok to get in the room and get dry clothes on.

As it was still early I decided to have a look around town and get some food, I was amazed at the cycle infrastructure here and must have stood for about 20 minutes watching cyclists going around the roundabout, cars have to give way to cyclists on a lot of roads there and it was amazing to watch from an Englishmans viewpoint.

Cycle lanes along major roads have right of way over all the side roads they cross and cars would stop to let you over even when they were turning into the road you're crossing. It was a bit unnerving to start with but as you got used to it it got a lot easier.

If your cyclepath crossed a main road the traffic on it had right of way but there are cycle crossings next to the pedestrian crossing anyway so you didn't wait for long.

Then it was food, tv and try to get as much sleep as possible for the long day ahead.

Arriving Hoek Van Holland and some Dutch cycle infrastructure.

Day 3 (Tues)

I got up as late as I could before the breakfast closed at the hotel, had breakfast and was out into the town again to await the 20.00 start this evening. I wandered around for a bit and got some food for later at the super market (Ed - all exciting stuff eh!) while waiting outside I spotted an LEL jersey the same time he spotted my yacf one.

Another Brit was in town (Andy Wills) we chatted for a bit and as he was going to a bike shop I went also.

More coffee drank sat in the square looking at all the Dutch ladies cycling about :-) and a ride back to the start location to wait for it to open.

Dutch ladies on recumbent advertising bikes

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The long one.

Tomorrow morning I'll be riding to Cambridge and getting on a train towards Harwich and onto the overnight ferry to the Netherlands.
I'll then be making my way up to Zwolle for the start of the Lowlands 1200km on Tuesday evening.

I think I've got enough miles in my legs this year as I've already done more rides than this time last year. The only thing is this will be my longest ride ever by almost double!!

The route will take me from Zwolle, NE to the coast and then South down the coast towards Rotterdam and onto Maastricht. The ride starts at 20.00 and the plan is to get to Maastricht (556km) sometime late Wednesday/early Thursday. A bed has been booked at the Y/H there and as long as I'm going well enough I'll get some sleep.
We then head up the Maas towards Venlo (659km) and Hengelo (863m) and back to the start at Zwolle (949km) for another sleep before doing the last loop up to Groningen (1062km) and Wartena (1123km) before heading back south to the finish (1216km) Hopefully before 14.00 on Saturday.
14.00 being the cut-off time after which I wouldn't get the points for the ride.

If anyone is interested in following my progress I'll be tweeting along the way which will also update my Facebook page

All going well I'll be back on the ferry on Sunday and back in MK sometime on Monday.
Wish me luck :-D

Monday, 5 July 2010

FSoTM ride #95 4/7/10

This months ride started in the usual place at the bandstand in Bletchley. Some of the regular riders were missing, choosing to go out on longer rides elsewhere.
These rides were started with an idea about getting people out on their bikes and getting them doing longer rides is also the point of them.

We started a bit later than 10 as I had a text saying Chris was on his way but a bit late.
The route I made up as I went along. Past Tesco and Asda, around Redmoor and through Coffee Hall. Taking the roads and redways through the CMK estates and coming out via the canal by the pub on the Wolverton - Newport road.
It was then onto the very rough track around the back of Linford lakes through a couple of gates and onto the Haversham - Newport road for a good downhill run to Newport Pagnell.
It was a great day for cycling, lovely sunshine and a cooling breeze. I still managed to get sunburned though!!
The redways then took us towards Willen Lake where a slight detour was needed to avoid the crowds at the Dragon boat racing.
At the junction just before the pub I waited for the riders to turn and make sure they new where we were going but some had disappeared.
I went back to look for them, tried a couple of turns and routes but couldn't see them.
Back to the pub to meet the others, on getting there there were no bikes sat out the front and I couldn't see anyone. Gt phone out and rang Chris to find out they were all sat around the back in the garden along with the missing riders who had gone a different way.

After the obligatory cider :-) we were back on our way again with riders turning for home on the way as we passed near to their houses and back at the start for about 13.15

Another good ride with great company, it's still fun doing these rides even though they're short compared to the audax rides I do.
I plan to keep them going as long as people want to turn up, ride and have fun.

The next one starts at Furzton Lake next to the bridge by the MK Bowl and takes the Sustrans path (51) to Winslow and back.
This ride has had a good turnout over the 8 times I've done it so far with the most being 50.
Hope to see you there.