Day 5 : Into Germany

The sun rises here around 6.30am. Another cold night in the tent but once I’ve had some porridge and coffee and packed everything else up it takes until about 9.30am for the condensation to have mostly dried off the tent so I can pack it away.

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Tent in the morning sun

Once again the LF 4 national long distance cycle route took me across lots of unpaved roads, gravel and dried mud tracks. Other than during Summer you’d probably need a mountain bike for this section.

Lots more pretty scenery. I cycled through a nature reserve and past many fields growing sweet corn.

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Up at the lake

I popped into a supermarket mid-morning for some sustainance. Alas what I thought was a vanilla flavoured milk drink turned out to be custard..

Lunch was a bitterballen sausage on bread and some ham and cheese on bread.

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Pickled carrot on the side

Whilst crossing a bridge I cycled past two teenagers sitting on it on beach towels. When I’d crossed and looked back I saw them jumping in. Easily over 10m – impressive!

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8.5

By mid afternoon I’d reached the end of the route North of Enschede.

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I was keen to push on into Germany. I couldn’t find any campsites so found a discounted B&B and headed for that.

The undramatic crossing into Germany:

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Where did my cycle lane go?

The B&B in Ammeloe is modern and well-appointed. Bed looks comfy! View from my window is sweet corn to the horizon and it is called the star room because it has a view of the sky, which is nice. In the garden are some chickens which I am assured will provide me with a fresh egg in the morning.

At least now in Germany I have a fighting chance of the language basics from my GCSE of over 20 years ago, although almost everyone I talked to in The Netherlands spoke good English. I got some help from Google translate app by looking up ‘I’d like another drink please’ and the lady serving in the pub here in Ammeloe understood completely.

Lochem to Ammeloe via Enschede, 86 km. Total so far = 419 km.

Day 4 : From campsite to campsite

I write this in my tent, feeling sleepy.

As I was packing up at the campsite this morning I had my first bit of kit failure when a hook from one of the rear rack bungee straps broke off. Turns out I can make do without the hook, so that’s 5g weight shaved off.

After leaving the campsite I headed into Arnhem town centre to hunt down some breakfast. I asked the only place I found open for a really big breakfast and was served two medium ones.

I could do with is one of those devices you hang round your neck that takes a picture every minute as I am seeing a lot of nice sights, but not taking many pics. I’ve taken a few today to capture an idea of the current landscape, though sadly I don’t have any pics of all the great architecture that I’m seeing.

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Cycling through a national park

I’m seeing lots of signs but have no idea what any of them mean, although shortly after seeing this one I cycled right by a big bull, when I had been expecting chickens.

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Warning: Wild rooster

A lot of today’s cycling was on unsurfaced roads and paths which means paying extra attention, since breaking and turning gets a bit hazardous with the loaded bike.

The weather was good today. A few showers but mainly sunny. Cycling through forests and in the shade of trees for a lot of it meant it wasn’t too hot.

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A small part of the LF4 Netherland long distance cycle route

A couple of stop offs along the way today for snacks.

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Elevenses

Skies look big here, but the weather has been changing quickly.

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Yeah, your skies are mine
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Selfie, bikie, boatie

This chain ferry cost €2 and made the crossing a lot easier. Note towel on bike. I have to rotate anything I have that’s wet on this prime drying position offered by the front touring bag.

Bit of a wrong turn and the paths got pretty narrow:

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Lost in the woods

Again at around 5pm I looked up nearby campsites and found one not too far away. It’s a large campsite but there’s only about 5 tents in total and just 1 other in my field. As I have the freedom, I’ve pitched my tent in a spot where it will get the sun in the morning. It got a bit cold last night. Need a warmer sleeping bag!

Arnhem to Lochem, 79 km.

Day 3 : Less rain, less flat

I write this in my tent listening to the sounds of the evening birdsong and the wind in the trees.

This morning I had breakfast at the hotel and then rejoined my route which took me through the town centre and then out once again onto the country lanes.

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Hotel-friendly luggage

With the exception of the lycra-clad road cyclists I didn’t see any one wearing a helmet. Scooter riders share many of the cycle lanes and most of them don’t wear helmets either.

The landscape is quite different to yesterday. There are a few slopes here and there and there’s noticeably less water about (still a lot though!).

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Lunch

The weather was sunny in the main part. There were two heavy showers during the day, but both times I was lucky enough to be cycling through villages that offered forms of shelter.

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Bus shelter
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Garage shelter

At around 5pm I searched for a nearby campsite and found one just a short cycle away. I have a great spot for my tent under some trees. The neighbours pitched their tent under a pear tree and from time to time I hear pears hitting their tent 🙂

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Chateau vert

Once I’d got the tent up I went for a swim in the river near the campsite. The sun was out and low in the sky and there was no-one else about. A great way to unwind after a day of umm unwinding.

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Wild swimming spot

As I had two big meals already I had a light dinner of porridge, half an unripe pear and a coffee.

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I made this all myself

Utrecht to Arnhem, 81 km.

Day 2 : Water, water, everywhere…

Hook of Holland to Utrecht, 103 km.

I write this at a Thai restaurant, on the banks of the Oudegracht San De Were in Utrecht.

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The canal that runs through the centre of Utrecht is less than two meters away. Water, it turns out, is in abundance in The Netherlands. As I cycled from The Hook of Holland through Den Haag to Utrecht, the majority of the roads and paths were flanked on both sides by water. Only half of The Netherlands is above 1m above sea level, and the engineering employed to manage this is very impressive.

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Unfortunately whilst cycling today I was also flanked by water from above. After a bright start, when I reached Den Haag it started drizzling, then most of the day was spent cycling through moderate rain, which then turned into the kind of rain where if I had them, I would set my windscreen wipers to ‘furious’. Thunder added to the drama. I set my destination to Utrecht and found a discounted hotel room near the city centre on bookings.com. I’ve dispersed all items to dry in my hotel room and even washed my undies in the sink (too much info?). The coffee and tea sachets look like they might come in handy too.

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The cycle lanes here are amazing. I’ve done over 100km today and over 99% has been on cycle lanes. Lots of the cycle lanes were segregated too.

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One other important thing I learnt today is that except for the city centres this place seems pretty much closed on Sundays. This meant my water and food rations (a banana) had to stretch a long way. Around 3pm I found a place that was open. I had been looking for anywhere that sold food since 12pm, admittedly my national cycle route didn’t take me through many towns.

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But despite the rain, all in all a very nice country and a pretty good day.

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Day 1 : Grand départ, prologue

London to Witham by bike, Witham to Harwich by car. 70km

I write this on Saturday night from a window seat in the bar on the Stena Line ferry heading from Harwich to Hook of Holland. It is dark outside. The wi-fi offered is free but noticeably lacking in pace. I think I will have made it abroad by the time this appears on the website.

Today I began my cycling adventure. If all goes well I’ll be seeing some of The Netherlands, Germany, and France, and maybe more over the next few weeks.

Recently I’ve been prepping my bike for the trip, and this morning I packed. There’s nothing like the immediacy of being at a deadline to get things done. And besides, if I’d have packed sooner I might have been put off by the total weight of the bike, which, as it turns out, is very heavy.

Today I rode 70km from London to Witham. Here I am about to leave Enfield:

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It rained heavily overnight and with a storm forecast for Sunday I lucked out with a very sunny day.

It didn’t take long to escape the slow, congested roads of London and reach the leafy lanes of Essex.

The bike was comfortable to ride, and once underway behaved similarly to when it has an ordinary load. However, the difference in weight is very noticeable when pushing or lifting it. It also got a bit snakey when I got out of the saddle to climb a hill quickly, so from now on I’ll be keeping sudden changes in movement to a minimum.

I’m very pleased I fitted a smaller chainring – I don’t care how quickly I go down a hill, but it is nice to be able to pedal up it. Plus it’s great to overtake people when going up a hill as I did today 🙂

It was super to catch up with Pete and Lucy in Witham. Thank you for the hospitality and lovely meal 🙂

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Then one of the benefits of the Brompton is its multi-modal capabilities. B and luggage easily fitting in the boot and a lift to Harwich:

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Now it’s time to head back to my luxury accommodation. Night!

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Around the M25 in a day on my Brompton

Once in a blue moon, and occasionally under the reaches of a white one, I get the urge to escape the magnetic pull of the armchair and go on a micro-adventure in promotion of the liberty of the individual. Such as it was that last Saturday I rode a 259 km (approx. 160 mile) lap around London on my Brompton bike on a route that took me on roads and tracks close to the path of London’s orbital motorway. I started pedalling about 6.30am and arrived back at the starting point at 5am the following morning. It was dangerous and hard work and I would recommend this ride to no-one. Having said that, I’m very glad I did it.

Around the M25 on a bike - route

Read moreAround the M25 in a day on my Brompton

Sturmey weather

The rear gear hub on my bicycle hadn’t been running smoothly – it was noisy and would not turn freely when I back-pedalled, causing the chain to go slack with a good chance of coming off. I think either some dirt had made its way into the hub or some over-zealous cleaning had de-greased the grease. I decided to have a go at getting it running smoothly again myself. 

The bike is a six-speed Brompton. It has a standard three-speed Sturmey Archer BWR hub gear, combined with two derailleur-adjusted cogs on the back wheel:

Sturmey Archer BWR hub
Sturmey Archer BWR hub

Read moreSturmey weather