Click here to see my progress so far: Auntie Helen’s Berlin To London ride
My cycle ride is featuring on the Help For Heroes website at the moment: Berlin to London on a recumbent trike
If you think what I’m doing is pretty cool, perhaps you might sponsor me to give me some encouragement and, more importantly, to help a really good cause. All sponsorship greatly appreciated! The link to my sponsor page is here: Auntie Helen’s sponsorship page
Wednesday 9 May 2012
After a good night’s sleep I checked my washing – unfortunately the socks and cycling shorts weren’t dry as they were made of thicker material. The radiator and towel rail in the hotel weren’t working which was unfortunate. I wielded a hairdryer for a few minutes on the socks so they were almost dry and then realised I wouldn’t be able to get everything perfectly dry so put all the wet/damp things in my waterproof bag to keep them from making other clothing in my panniers wet.
Breakfast was the usual selection of cold meats and cheese, cereal, bread rolls, eggs and bacon. I enjoyed a brie and bacon roll after my cereal! I then paid my bill (I had been charged for my cup of tea yesterday – my second cup of tea I have paid for!) and then I packed up everything and headed out – towards Holland!
Holland was less than 1km away, as it turned out.
The final bicycle shop that I saw in Germany had the most fantastic name: Zweirad Fahrtwind.
Just a few hundred metres from here I crossed into Holland.
Straight away the cycle path beside the road widened and was a different sort of tarmac, slightly orange coloured. It was a nice fast surface so I pootled along beside the main road, amused by the mixture of German and Dutch on all the signs that I saw.
After Winterswijk and Bredevort I found there was a diversion of the cycle path as there were some roadworks. They had a man from the Highways Agency equivalent whose job it was to help cyclists cross the road safely!
At this point I was riding along the N318 which I think is a fairly major road but as the cycle path was segregated it was absolutely fine.
I then arrived in Aalten which was a reasonable-sized town and as it was a quarter to ten I thought I might be able to find a mobile phone shop to get a Dutch SIM card. I cycled round looking for one but failed, asked in two shops and eventually found the mobile phone shop that I had already cycled past twice. It was rather short on advertising in the windows, etc. Anyway, the man there set me up with a Vodafone NL SIM card and made sure the Internet was working on my phone, which was the main thing. This was pricier than the German SIM by a long way.
I carried on alongside the main road N318 following signs to Arnhem already. The cycle paths were always excellent and I think I have decided that once I am at Arnhem I will join the official cycle route to get to Utrecht as it looks like it won’t have any comedy off-roading like the German official cycle routes. It might be a bit more scenic too as the route I have taken today isn’t a particularly beautiful one.
At 11:15 I started to feel the need for some cake and stopped at a bakery in Varsseveld and had a wonderful cake concoction and a cup of tea (which I was charged for).
Whilst I was eating my cake a man came to chat to me about my bike and the flag which says Help For Heroes. I explained about why I was raising the money and he gave me a small donation and then offered for me to have lunch with himself, his wife and his daughter. However as I was pressing onward towards Arnhem I turned him down but that was very kind of him!
Although the forecast today was for thunderstorms, grey cloud and rain it was actually much nicer than that with lots of blue sky evident between the white clouds and it got warm enough that I swapped from my waterproof jacket to my windproof.
I followed the route that my Garmin suggested to the next waypoint which was past Doetinchem and the Garmin did an excellent job with cycle paths beside the main road for a short way before we turned off onto a quieter road (still on a cycle path beside it). I was really enjoying this riding, stopping now and again to take photographs of things that interested me such as windmills:
Giant metal wings hanging off trees
The cycle path was for a little while in a section of woodland which was very attractive. I saw a huge bird of prey swoop across my path settle on a treestump; I braked to stop to take a photo and the squealing of my discs scared it off, unfortunately.
I approached Doetinchem and at this point my Garmin directed me off the main road and down some residential streets. I wasn’t too sure about this but as it had generally been pretty well behaved I went with it; how glad I was!
There has clearly been much money spent on a wonderful cycle path that runs right across the south of Doetinchem and once I was on it it was a fab ride. The path was fast and easy as whenever it met a main road there was an underpass under the road so you zoomed down and then up the other side without having to slow down at all or wait for traffic lights.
I think I went through about eight of these – quite expensive construction compared to sticking in a pelican crossing but much, much better.
Some of the path was clearly brand new (the bit near Doetinchem station) but other bits were clearly older. Anyway, it all joined up really well and I had about a four mile section of fantastic riding. I could really get used to these cycle paths!
There’s another huge difference in cycle path usage between the UK and between Germany and Holland and this is the attitude of car drivers – strict liability. In Germany or Holland, if you’re on a cycle path that runs beside the road on the pavement or in its own little section, when you get to a road that crosses your path (that joins the main road) you as the cyclist have right of way so can just go straight across the road (obviously checking that any cars are stopping – they always do). There are markings for the car drivers to show a cycle path is crossing. Car drivers in Germany and Holland seem to go out of their way to let you cross in front of them or get onto their road and it’s a wonderful change from the situation in the UK when you are always having to make sure there are no drivers whizzing up a side road about to take you out. Of course, in Germany and Holland if you hit a cyclist you are automatically at fault (unlike in the UK) so it tends to make them more careful – and more people cycle anyway.
I was getting a bit hungry after 30 miles so thought it about time to stop for lunch. I was passing the village of Wehl so pulled off the route there (I was by now back alongside the N318) and found a little café bar. It was an interesting communication experience as the barman spoke no English or German and I speak no Dutch. I could vaguely decode the menu (I chose a burger) but when I wanted tap water it took ages to explain my drink – I ended up having to prod at the tap on the bar and then the barman taught me the Dutch for ‘normal water’ which sounded a bit like ‘normal watter’.
Anyway, here was my burger and with the Dutch requirement of mayo with your chips!
It was interesting having the communication difficulties with the barman as I’m just not used to that now as I tend to holiday in Germany or Austria. Although people say that everyone speaks English in Holland, which is almost true, it’s actually not understanding what random people who are chatting together as they walk past that is noticeable. In Germany I can tell what people are taking about, I can understand menus, I can read road diversion signs etc. In Holland I feel like an Englishwoman abroad – slightly at a loss.
However, Dutch as a language has its amusing side. It seems liberally peppered with lots of ‘ij’ sections in words, lots of ‘ui’ and ‘aa’ and sometimes the words themselves look a bit strange. I liked this Hooge sign!
And then I came across a sign for ‘Bent Sports’ – bent is the commonly-used alternative for recumbent so I thought I’d photograph Alfie in front of it.
And the wonderfully-named town/village of Loo!
This last photo was taken in Duiven as I was heading off to Westervoort. Duiven is somewhere I had visited before during a work event in 2006 so it was interesting to be back again.
I headed into Westervoort to find my B&B. About a quarter of a mile from the B&B I passed a supermarket so went in and bought some chocolate for later. I then arrived at the B&B and was met by a very friendly lady who helped me install Alfie round the back of her house. I asked to check the WiFi out before going to my room (it only worked in the public areas, not in the rooms) and she gave me a card with the network name and the password. The thing was, the network name didn’t show up in the list of available networks and the password didn’t work with any of the available ones. I tried both iPhone and iPad – no joy.
I said to the lady this was a significant problem as I hadn’t booked my hotel for tomorrow, wanted to write up my blog etc etc and I have only been booking hotels with WiFi. She phoned another local hotel and they apparently had a room for 62 Euro which had WiFi (breakfast was 9,50€ more so I’ll leave that) so I headed off to this hotel Gieling. Which turned out to be the hotel I had stayed at for the sales meeting in 2006 (they even still had my records on their computer!)
So anyway I installed myself in the room, washed my clothes and hung out yesteday’s slightly damp clothing to dry completely, wrote up the blog, had a free cup of tea and started on the chocolate.
I’m now starting to organise a bit more my final day on Sunday (Colchester to London). It looks as if I will be able to visit the Colchester Personnel Recovery Centre on my way past on Sunday morning which is brilliant news as it opened yesterday – it will be great to see what all the sponsorship I have raised will be going towards!
Tomorrow I am heading to Utrecht or its environs and I shall spend a bit of time studying the official route – it just might be worth giving it a go!
Statistics for today:
Distance travelled: 45.93 miles
Moving time: 4 hours 46 minutes 40 seconds
Maximum speed: 18.1 mph
Average speed: 9.6 mph
Average heart rate: 111
Maximum heart rate: 142
Calorie burn (estimate as heart rate monitor didn’t always get a reading): 1,600 calories