2 days – 470km – 3 countries in less than 48 hours
A quick update from the road, after I had no internet access on the ferry port or the boat itself. I am feeling fresh still, even after pedalling the first 470km fighting against some odds. The first big problem on both days has been a wee lack of navigational skills from my side, and the problem that Google maps is not really designed for two wheels. That fast added at least 20km on both days, but surprisingly my knees did hold up very well, so I don’t mind doing a few km’s of punishment. Day one began at 5 in the morning after finishing packing at 2 at night, but I knew that I had plenty of time to sleep on the boat. So after the last coffee and some muesli I was finally on the road at 6.20am, just to take the wrong turn-off in Edinburgh and end up doing a big detour to get onto the A68 south. At this time I was stressed for the first time, as i had a tight deadline to make the ferry, and didn’t plan for such errors, due to my own stupidity. Once on my way to Jedburgh things got much better, and I did find my way almost as told by Google for the rest. The cross winds sometimes made it a bit difficult, and there were some serious climbs in there, but there were all followed by some sweet descents. And going downhill at more than 60km/h was just the right adrenaline kick to keep going. Stopping in Jedburgh I was in front of schedule again after the first 85km, and from there things got very smooth. The cross winds turned into a tailwind and finally arriving on the ferry terminal at 1.15am I was way ahead of my time to board, with an average of 30.7 km/h, which was pretty impressive considering the hills I had to climb that day.
With some hours to spare I made a quick detour to North Shields to get some food, as there are not many choices in that part of town. Fortunately I found a nice woman who agreed to watch my bike for 5 minutes, as leaving it outside unlocked in that area might have resulted in walking to the ferry, but the potato scones, orange juice and chocolate were worth the risk. After a long process of cueing I was finally on the boat by 4pm, and memories of my last trip came back. Only this time I had taken less than a day to get here, opposed to three in winter. There were a few more cyclists on the ferry, not nearly as fast as me, and I was very much looking forward to test my new Montane gear for the time off the bike. After a shower I made myself ready to walk around the boat, first with socks, than with biking shoes, and then with bare foot, as i couldn’t pack any shoes. Bare foot was the best option, even though some people looked at me as I was from another planet. At 7 I went straight to bed, went for some peanuts and ice tea to the shop at 10 and kept on sleeping, that’s how tired I was. But it felt great to have gotten so far already, and I couldn’t wait to be in Germany again the next day.
After getting up late at 8 for my standards, I had a wee wonder around the boat again and treated myself to a coffee, all other things would have exhausted my budget for the trip, so I left eating till arriving on the mainland, a decision which I would not like later. I was off the boat by 10.30am, which was late thinking that I had at least 253km ahead of me. I wanted to give the Netherlands a second chance to impress me as country for cycling, and they failed to do that again. I also had to ditch my directions printed out from the very beginning, and began to find myself a nice route towards Enkhuizen. The problem I have cycling in Holland is that all things (cycle paths and roads) only give you directions till the next town, which is fine if you know all places you need to pass. Once coming to a town sing posting sometimes stops, which doesn#t make things easier. Due to those reasons I totally lost my way again, which again wasn’t ideal to start with thinking about the milage ahaed. Secondly I am so used that at least food outlets are open Sundays as they are in Scotland, only to find the opposite. And to wrap things up there are plenty of spaces to get rid of water and fill up again, there are none in the Netherlands. So if you would like to take all the thrill and joy out of cycling, go there, otherwise look for other countries. Rant over here, but I have tried twice now, only the people that gave me directions made it a great experience, but otherwise I prefer other (even more dangerous) countries for cycling. The good news was that it was flat all over, and after heading into a slight headwind for 80kms, I had my first blast cycling over a giant causeway, with the speed over 40km/h for about 20kms. By that time I only had managed to get a sweet waffle to eat, and didn’t think of the remoteness I was entering. I could have stopped in Lelystad, but I was given good directions north, so I couldn’t be bothered to head into town for food, big mistake. It was the last food on my way for another 45km, and when I finally passed the Ketelmeer and Zwartsmeer I stormed into the first place to have something to eat. A milkshake never tasted so good as the two I had there, but there were still 100km ahead of me, and I thanked myself for taking the lights. The next highlight was to enter Germany, which finally happened at km 220, and I raised my arms and cried a loud ‘Yeah’ when I could see the first sign of Laar. From there I got lost a few times again, and finally made it to Lingen by 10.30pm, after a long day cycling. My friend was rather surprised as he didn’t expect me already on a Sunday, but fed me with plenty of food and a good chat. The first 470km were over, and I was tired enough not to think about them. I had some moments of madness behind me, in which I kept singing loud for myself, and I was thinking about a phrase in the SHAFF trailer from this year ‘tired, demoralised, a little bit shagged’, but those were only a few moments. I felt much better than I thought most of the time, and I am now looking forward to another long day to Hamburg, it has been a great experience so far. if you have enjoyed that, why not spent a few pennies and donate them to Re-cycle and BENN here, and my updated packing list is finally here.