Thursday, 2 August 2012

11. July 7th

One thing that we noticed that quite a numberof solitary cyclist get to campsites late and leave very early- this cuts out the tiresome element of paying. We only employed this tactic once and this was by accident rather than design. This was on our first night when we arrived very late at the forest campsite and left before anyone was in the Reception- we felt that this was a bit of a result.

Our objective for the day was Nijmegen. We set off and for a long time we cycled along the Maas and enjoyed cycling through the dutch countyside and observing the huge Rhine barges that chugged by. We also cycled past a working windmill which had a certain scenic quality.

We reached a town called Tiel and couldn't work out a route through the town, across a motorway and onto the towpath to Nijmegen. After a bit of indecisive meandering we asked an elderly Dutch couple on bikes for help. They said that they were going that way and we could follow them but apologised that they wouldn't be going very fast. Bruce set off just behind them and Fred and I delayed a bit checking our panniers or something. When we set off not long after we had to cycle flat out for over a mile to catch them up. We then went at an uncomfortably fast speed up a inclined cycle path over the motorway. After another mile or so they stopped and told us that that was where they were turning off and we were now on the path we wanted. When we joked [ breathlessly] about the pace they had set they then disclosed that because of their age they were on electric bikes- this made us feel slightly less inadequate.

The afternoon was spent cycling against the wind along the top of a dyke. Because there is no parental control button on this I will not post Bruce's comment about it being no fun on top of a raised Dutch earthwork - it just wouldn't be appropriate.

After an hour or so of struggling against the wind [ story of my life], we stopped for an ice cream and a drink. While we were sitting on a bench taking refreshments someone came along on the most loaded bike we had ever seen. It was stacked up almost to shoulder height at the back and had front and rear panniers and every part of the bike had bits and pieces strapped to it. The owner of the bike then came and sat with us- a very large, if I was impolite I would say very fat, sweaty Dutchman. We learnt that he goes on lots of cycling camping holidays and travels many miles doing so. Two thoughts came to our minds- 1] that he didn't look as if he could get off a sofa let alone get onto a bike , and 2] seeing him knocked into a cocked hat our theory about cycling being a slimming activity.

Eventually we got to Nijmegen, found that the tourist office had closed and so were a bit lost re campsites. We decided to have a beer to mull things over. While parking his bike Fred managed a moment of pure cinematic quality. He parked his bike, it toppled over taking about five or six other bikes with it in a domino effect- I am only sorry that I haven't a photo to record this moment.

You'll have to take my word for it that the sails were moving.

We were still wondering about campsites when a Dutch couple approached us- Bruce had worn his 'Crazy Dreamers' tee shirt and they were keen cyclists so wanted to talk to us about our trip. They also directed us to a campsite a mile or so out of town that was also on our route- once again stopping for a beer proved to be a good tactic.

We got to the campsite, cycled into the nearest town for a meal and reflected upon over 120 miles completed in two days.

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