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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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 dรฉpart, 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

It was super to catch up with Pete and Lucy in Witham. Thank you for the hospitality and lovely meal ๐Ÿ™‚

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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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