European Tour 2019 - Year of the Headwinds!

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RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
Saturday 29th June – Day 57

Litomerice to Decin

Onwards through the Czech Republic we encountered fast tarmac trails, potholed roads, rough tarmac, dirt tracks and rubble! Nice scenery, some hills, and hot and sunny.
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Through Usti, then stopped for a cooling beer, but they didn't do food, so it was on into Decin for a late lunch at a roadside snack bar. The campsite was pretty much underneath a main road flyover, but surprisingly the noise was not too intrusive. A short ride to supermarket for supplies, then relaxed in the 35c temperatures.

56km, Total 2946km

Sunday 30th June – Day 58

Decin to Heidenau (D)

Hot and sunny again. A decent trail along the Elbe led between scenic sandstone towers, and then after 15km we crossed the border into Germany.
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This area, and for a long while to come used to be in East Germany, and the character was noticeably different to the parts of Germany we had previously crossed – more austere, derelict factories, and dull brown towns and villages. We stopped at a biergarten, for beer and sausages, sitting in the shade as it was very hot. It was round about here we noticed that Janet's rear wheel rim was starting to break up around a spoke, the potholes and rubble of the Czech Repulic had taken their toll!
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We dropped into a cycle repair shop in Pirna that was open on the Sunday, they didn't have a suitable replacement wheel, but suggested a shop in Dresden for the next day who would be able to help. We carried on to the campsite at Heidenau, just short of Dresden. It was 40c now so we were glad of an early finish, and there was a nice restaurant nearby for dinner, as due to it being Sunday we had no fresh food.

56km, Total 3002km

Monday 1st July – Day 59

Heidenau/Dresden

On another hot and sunny morning we rode light into the south side of Dresden to “Fahrrad XXL Bicycle Emporium”. It was the largest bike shop I have ever seen, with hundreds of bikes for sale, as well as all the accessories, and a repair workshop. It even had a marked out test ride circuit inside the shop! We took Janet's bike in, one look to establish what was needed, ten speed, disc compatible wheel, and immediately took a suitable wheel off the rack. I asked if they could fit it, and they were most apologetic that it would be an hour. The shop was so large that we had plenty to look at while we waited for them to swap all the components across. Janet also took the opportunity to buy a new pair of cycle shoes, as hers had pretty worn through on the soles. I also got a new bell, as mine had disintegrated on the train to Prague, and they are pretty much essential on the shared use trails.
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We were soon on the road back to the campsite, where Janet got some washing done – hot and sunny so everything dried quickly, and I went to a supermarket for supplies. All that done we still had time to visit a biergarten by the Elbe, relaxing in the hot sunshine.

21km, Total 3023km

Tuesday 2nd July – Day 60

Heidenau to Riesa

A nice sunny morning, but a stiff breeze, against us as usual! An easy trail led to Dresden, where we passed through the city easily on a riverside trail along the South Bank.
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Onwards into an ever stronger headwind with good tarmac interspersed with cobbles. There was a diversion up a big hill, and the descent was on cobbles all the way back to the river – Janet was glad she had a new wheel! Through Meissen, and on, with yet more cobbles to Riesa for a supermarket stockup, a beer at a “Beach Bar”, and to camp at the “Wassersportsverien” (Water Sports Club). It had been hot and sunny all day, but we were wind-blasted in the ferocious headwind.

73km, Total 3096km

Wednesday 3rd July – Day 61

Riesa to Prettin

Set off in fine sunshine, not to hot. We bought pastries and lunch supplies before leaving Riesa. We then followed the river for a while, before the trail zig-zagged around fields. Tarmac surface, except cobbles through every village. Strong headwind again. After a road stretch we crossed the Elbe at Torgau, then a mixture of roads and trails led us to Prettin. There was a supermarket for supplies, but apart from that the town was deserted. On a further couple of kilometres to the campsite by a bathing lake, which was also almost deserted, but did have a bar for a beer while waiting for the reception to open. A fine sunny day, but the strong headwind was becoming quite wearing.

75km, Total 3171km
 
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RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
Thursday 4th July – Day 62

Prettin to Lutherstadt Wittenberg

The route out of Prettin was very poorly marked and after taking a wrong turn somewhere we ended up cycling across fields. We made it to the floodbank and followed that for a while, then a couple of farm workers confirmed we were going in the right direction. A couple of kilometres further and we rejoined the route, on roads and trails, all over the place. No food shops until Esther, then it was a better trail. We saw the River Elbe only briefly before reaching Lutherstadt by 2pm.
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We had a look around the old town – busy with tourists due to it's connection with Martin Luther.
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We had a couple of beers at a bar with an Irish bartender, before returning to the Ruderclub to camp on a lush lawn by the river. Sunny all day but not too hot.

55km, Total 3226km

Friday 5th July – Day 63

Lutherstadt to Aken

Cool and overcast morning. A good trail led out of town. As we went downstream we passed a moored Viking River Cruises vessel, so assumed there would be boat traffic from now onwards – to be proved wrong, the ship must have reached Lutherstadt when river levels were much higher than now, as there was not enough water for navigation for hundreds of kilometres yet. We followed nice trails through forests and parkland, a very strong headwind, but at least sheltered in the forest.
We stopped for lunch in Dessau, then more nice trails through parkland, though every village and town was still cobbles! Soon into Aken (Elbe) for the Pennymarkt – a grim, dour, East German town, we managed to find a bar by the river for a beer, then to a riverside “BootsVerleih” camping. By evening it had got out fine and sunny.

62km, Total 3288km
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Saturday 6th July – Day 64

Aken to Sonnebeck

A Good trail led along the embankment, into a stiff headwind as usual, along to a ferry at Breitenhagen, but unfortunately the ferry was closed! We made a 7km diversion to a ferry across a tributary, the River Saale at Gross Rosenburg, but this ferry was also closed due to low water levels. A further 14km diversion led to a bridge across the Saale at Calbe, but as we approached large signs warned that the bridge was closed, directing traffic to another bridge a firther 10km off route! We decided to have a look at the “closed” bridge, and as we approached a local cycled out of his way to tell us that the bridge was OK for cyclists, just closed to cars, so we could cross. By now we were a long way off route, still navigating by our sketch map, so we took the main road direct to Schonebeck. Strong headwinds all day again, and came on to rain in the evening.

59km, Total 3347km

Sunday 7th July – Day 65

Sonnebeck to Bittkau

The rain had stopped by morning, but it was cool and grey as we followed a good trail towards Magdeburg. Back alleys and cobbles led through suburbs, then back onto a good trail along the river through the city. A few boats here, but limited navigation, as there was a stretch of white water through the city! We took a big bridge to the East Bank, then nice riding (despite the strong headwind) through parkland out of town to where the Mittelland Canal crossed the river. We went along the canal for a bit, then trails, sometime quite rough to a ferry back to the West Bank at Rogatz.
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Fast trails then led to the campsite at Bittkau.

74km, Total 3421km

Monday 8th July – Day 66

Bittkau to Havelberg

It was cool and cloudy as we cycled north, on trails across fields, roadsides, into a very strong headwind yet again. We got to Tangermunde for elevenses, an old medieval, and slightly derelict town. Further along good trails, then a detour away from the river, very windy with nasty rain squalls now. Back to the river, and a ferry across to Sandau, then the last stretch to Havelberg in heavy rain.
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We took refuge in a bar, before cycling up a big hill to the supermarket.
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Back down to the campsite for a rather cool evening.

64km, Total 3485km

Tuesday 9th July – Day 67

Havelberg

Since the easy day near Dresden when we sorted Janet's wheel a week ago we had been fighting a fierce headwind all the way – almost 500km of it, so we really needed a rest. Got some washing done, restocked at the supermarket, had a look around the rather dull and cheerless town. Dull and cool weather, with a few spots of rain.

6km, Total 3491km

Wednesday 10th July – Day 68

Havelberg to Gartow

Dull, cold, grey day, and still the ferocious headwind blew! Roads to Quitzobel, then onto the floodbank into the teeth of a gale for the next 15km. More roads and floodbanks led to Wittenberge, we went into town to find lunch, but it was a desolate dead place, half derelict. We eventually got lunch at a kebab shop, which actually was pretty good. Back out of town and across a very long and very bumpy railway bridge over the river. More concrete roads, pavers, and cobbles led us out of the former East Germany back to the West. We stopped for a drink at a nice bar in Schnackenburg before the last stretch to Gartow.
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The two supermarkets there were closed, as the whole town was suffering a power outage, so it was off to the rather smart camping where we ate our emergency Tuna and Pasta.

77km, Total 3568km
 
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RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
Thursday 11th July – Day 69

Gartow to Alt Garge

Fine dry sunny morning. Went to supermarket in Gartow first off to get pastries and food for lunch, then took the road to Gurleben where we rejoined the cycleroute. It was roadside trails to start with, then floodbank pavers. We stopped for our lunch picnic just before Hitzacker. It was a liveyly town, and we went to the Lidl for dinner supplies. A rough trail near the river led out of town, then some roads and hills, then a rough unrideable uphill through a forest, the first half of the downhill was virtually unrideable as well! Smooth roads then led the rest of the way back down to the river at Drethem. We were on the lookout for a bar, but everywhere was pretty dead, so it was to Alt Garge, and up a big hill to the campsite. Came on to a bit of rain after pitching.

69km, Total 3637km

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Young storks on their nest by the trail

Friday 12th July – Day 70

Alt Garge to Stove

It rained all night, but we had a brief dry spell for breakfast and packing away. Back down the big hill and trail to Bleckede where we had a truly torrential downpour, sheltered at a bakery for a bit, but even with waterproof jackets we were completely soaked. On along the floodbanks with frequent heavy showers. Stopped for a supermarket at Marschact, then the campsite at Stove. Stopped fairly early as it was the last site before Hamburg, and the city was going take a while to traverse.

52km, Total 3689km

Saturday 13th July – Day 71

Stove to Mittelnkirchen

Dull but dry. Fast easy trails, until the very familiar headwind got up yet again. At Hoopte we took a ferry across the Elbe to the North Bank.
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Then there was a fairly sheltered dead straight trail between trees across marshland into Hamburg. We followed city cycleways, the walked along the very busy and crowded river promenade to find the correct ferry. It was absolutely heaving, with hundreds of people waiting for ferries. I worked out how to buy tickets from the machine, and the ferry soon arrived, but there were far too many people to board. As we waited for the next ferry we maneuvered our bikes to try to stop the crowds pushing past, and we managed to get on the next one.
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This took us downstream for a way, then dropped us on the South Bank at Finkenwerder. In the last couple of days the Elbe had gone from a river for small boats only, to the large port for ocean-going ships here. We stopped for a late lunch at a kebab shop in Finkenwerder then attempted to follow the trail onwards. We lost it somewhere, and ended up cycling around in a circle, adding 8km to the day! Eventually we found the correct route, alongside a main road past the Airbus Factory/Airfield and on to Jork where we stopped at a supermarket. On again, and we stopped at the first available supermarket at Mittenkirchen, after a quite stressful day. It didn't help that it was still dull and grey as well.

69km, Total 3758km

Sunday 14th July – Day 72

Mittenkirchen to Krautsand

Dull, grey and cool, and very drizzly. A trail between houses along the top of a floodbank led back to the Elbe at Grunendeich. It was then along river floodbanks before heading inland near Stade. Back towards the river, with views of huge ocean-going container ships across the fields, and along to Krautsand.
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We stopped for a couple of beers at an Umbrella/Beach bar, and the weather was so cold and damp that they put the heaters on for us! Then it was just a short ride to the campsite by the lighthouse, good showers, but weather still cold and damp. Only a short day as the next campsite is a fair bit further.

39km, Total 3797km

Monday 15th July – Day 73

Krautsand to Cuxhaven Duhnen

Dull grey and cold again, coldest day of the entire trip. Alongside the floodbank, into a strong wind as usual, and through lots of gates across the trail. To Freiburg for pastries and lunch supplies. Alondside a road for while, then to an opening bridge, which was open for boats, but didn't close to allow traffic to pass at all on Mondays! Back the way we came for a couple of km (twice as fast going the other way!), then around a 10km diversion. Roadside cyclepath for a while, then the usual trail alongside the floodbank through Otterndorf. Final stretch into Cuxhaven was right down by the shore of the estuary, into the teeth of a howling gale.
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Cuxhaven was the finish of the coverage of our pamphlet sketch map of the Elbe route, which along with largely decent signposting had served us well for the last 1100km from Prague, so we detoured into town to find a bookshop for the next stretch – we managed to get a Kompass guide to the NordseeKusten Radweg 1, which would see us to the border of the Netherlands, though it was written for going the other way. Janet's rear tyre had been showing the puncture protection layer for the last few hundred km, so we tried to get a new one, but no success in the two shops we tried. Onwards into the gale to the headland at KugelBake – the North Sea and finish of the Elbe Cycleroute, and this stage of our trip. After a couple of photos, while holding our bikes so they didn't blow over, and we were off in search of a campsite.
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Cuxhaven is a holiday resort, and it was now school holiday time for the whole of Germany, and the Netherlands, so it was really busy. The first site we tried was completely full, and they suggested we try the next site, just 400m down the road. This one was also full, and when I asked if they could suggest where we might try the answer was “Nein”! On a short distance further, and we turned inland a bit for the next site. At reception we were told they were completely full, but there was space behind the washroom if it was OK for us. After the really scabby pitch we had ben given in Vienna in similar circumstances we were sceptical, but we were sent to look at before deciding, and were pleased to see nice area of lawn, three times as big as we needed, even with a picnic table under shelter near the washing up sinks. It was still cold and windy so we walked into the seaside resort for a couple of indoor beers before returning to the campsite to cook dinner at our picnic table.

79km, Total 3876km
 
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RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
Tuesday 16th July – Day 74

Cuxhaven to Nordkernen

The start of the next stage of our tour, utilising the part of the North Sea Coast route. A showery, blowy, and cold morning as we packed away. There was an Aldi near the site so we went there first to stock up supplies for the whole day. Then it was out of the resort along sea walls, as we had now turned towards the South-West the North-Westerly gale still was just a crosswind for a while. We then went through a forest, more pleasantly sheltered but poor suface. Back on tarmac we turn more to the south, so the strong wind is at our backs for the first time in over 1000km! This gave us a very fast run into Bremerhaven, straight through the middle of the container port, bizarrely passing customs control points twice. In the city we got to the ferry across the River Weser and crossed the choppy windswept estuary.
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After the campsite issues at Cuxhaven we decided to improve our odds by going inland away from the beach resorts to camp, so we went 10km inland along the Weser cycleroute to camp just through Nordkernen. Still cool, but less wet now.

64km, Total 3940km

Wednesday 17th July – Day 75

Nordkernen to Schorten

Dull and grey again, but at least not raining! Had to do a repair to Janet's airbed so a bit late away. Cut across the marshes, following roads and rough tracks to rejoin the coast route heading for Varel. Into town for the supermarket to stock up food supplies, then on along the coast behind floodbanks. We diverted inland across the marshes again, away from the coast route and the crowds to Schorten for a beer, and on to the campsite. The wind had finally died and the sun came out!

73km, Total 4033lm

Thursday 18th July – Day 76

Schorten / Jever

It was a fine warm dry day for a change so we decided on a rest day to do our washing and stuff. Swapped the worn out tyre from the rear of Janet's bike onto the front of mine, and my less worn front onto her rear in the hope this would see us home. We cycled into Jever for a nice lunch and a couple of beers, and to restock on gas canisters, and bought a map to help with the “off the coast route” bits we were taking.
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It was dry all day, but clouded over into the evening and then came on to heavy rain overnight.

8km, Total 4041km

Friday 19th July – Day 77

Schorten to Leer

A fine, sunny and warm day. The coast route, unsurprisingly follows the coast, which here is the long way round, and with the crowds there, and full campsites we decided to cut across country. We found nice cycletrails, mainly off-road with variable surfaces, and some very quiet roads. Good riding into a light headwind (wind had now gone round to a South-Westerly, just to spite us!). Visited a supermarket in Leer, then just across the River Emms to a campsite at the marina. After pitching we had a couple of beers in the slightly odd campsite bar.

70km, Total 4111km

Saturday 20th July – Day 78

Leer to Appinghem (NL)

The day started fine and dry. We cycled up the River Emms for a while, against a very strong wind to Weener, then headed west to the Netherlands border. Our map and guide ran out here (they don't sell Dutch maps or guides in Germany), so we followed signs for the Waddensee cycle route. Flat fen roads, into a strong wind yet again. We had a picnic lunch, then it clouded over and as we rode into Delfijl it was heavy rain. Sheltered briefly in a supermarket as we did our shopping, then on towards a campsite. The first small farm site looked dismal – overgrown, neglected and poor facilities and little sign of life so we cycled a bit further, away from the coast to Camper Eckerstein just beyond Appinghem. The evening was largely fine, but massive storm clouds were threateningly close.

75km, Total 4186km

Sunday 21st July – Day 79

Appinghem to Stroobos

All the overnight storms had missed us, and morning was fine and sunny, though with lots of dew so the tent was pretty wet. I took a photo on my phone of a cycleroute map at the campsite before departure, and as we cycled we took further photos of roadside maps to use for navigation until we could buy something better (but not on a Sunday!)
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We followed good cyclepaths, and quiet roads, navigating by numbers from one “Knoopunt” to the next. Bakeries all closed so we got a burger for lunch in Groningen. The trail onwards led along a canal, into a ferocious headwind yet again. We stopped quite early as we were getting really fed up fighting continuous strong headwinds, but at least it stayed dry today. We had a nice meal in the site restaurant, as we had no fresh food.

58km, Total 4244km

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Monday 22nd July – Day 80

Stroobos to Dienum

It was a dry night, but the morning was grey and very windy. We were still navigating by numbers, but knew when we were going the right way, as it meant cycling straight into a howling gale. In Bergum we found a bookshop and bought an atlas of all the cycleroutes in the Netherlands, so at least we knew where we were going now. On along straight, exposed trails, into the teeth of the gale to Leuwarden and the supermarket, then on to the campsite at Dienum. A short distance again today because of the unremitting headwind.

48km, Total 4292km
 
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RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
Tuesday 23rd July – Day 81

Dienum to Pingjum

Fine, dry, warm and sunny. A headwind still, but lighter this morning. Flat fenland trails, another ferry.
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Pastries at Dronryp, more nice trails and another ferry, electric solar powered this time. Through Franeker, on to Harlingen, picnic lunch and a few beers in the hot sunshine by the sea.
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Down the Waddensee floodbank for a while, then diverted inland on fenland trails to a quiet mini-camping near Pingjum. Remained warm and sunny day, and this small site had free showers, unusual in the Netherlands and northern Germany. We stopped quite short today as the next stretch is the Afsluitdijk – the Ijsselmeer Dam, 32km long, and some of it by bus, so it could take some time.

46km, Total 4338km

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Old and new wind technology

Wednesday 24th July – Day 82

Pingjum to Oudesluis (Anna Pawlowna)

Hot and sunny from the start. Easy riding to the start of the Afsluitdijk. The works going on were obvious from the start, and we were diverted to a low level trail near the freshwater side for the first few km, before being directed into a car park. A three year program is underway to raise the height of the dyke by 2 meters along it's whole 32km length, and this has caused the cycle route to be closed, the motorway is still open, but with some disruption. We had to wait 45 minutes for the bus as the driver was on a break. It was advertised as running every 30 minutes, taking 15 bikes, but unfortunately the usual adapted bus was off the road, and we had a normal single decker. Only seven bikes were waiting, so they were strapped in between the seats, and a 30 minute ride took us the drop off point near Den Oever. At the drop off it was absolute chaos, over 40 cyclists waiting with bikes, tandems, trailers, recumbents etc, some of whom had already been there for over 2 hours, and it was a right melee with people trying to shove their bikes aboard before we had even unloaded ours!
We soon reloaded our kit and cycled away from the impending riot into Den Oever to get lunch at a bakery. We were then off on the LF10 to Anna Pawlowna for the supermarket. It was then just a short ride to to Oudesluis to a small campsite. The actual campsite was full, but we were allocated a space on the front lawn of the owner's house, they even brought out patio chairs for us to sit on. It remained hot and sunny all, and our distance was small again, due to the time taken with the bus, and not wanting to cycle too far in the 30c plus afternoon temperatures.

45km, Total 4383km

Thursday 25th July – Day 83

Oudesluis to Castricum

Hot and sunny right from the start. Flat fen roads led to the North Sea coast, then it was grit surfaced rollercoaster trails through the dunes. Stopped at Petten for pastries, and to buy lunch supplies, then on more really nice undulating trails through the dunes, on better surfaces now.
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Very attractive, but very busy, and very hot! Into Egmund aan den Hoef for shopping, then along a cyclepath down the main road, away from the coast to find a campsite with space – everywhere so busy we thought it best to start trying campsites quite early – at this one we got the last free space! After pitching we took a ride out to a nice Bar / Beergarden for a cool beer in the hot sun, before returning to the site to cook our evening meal. We were now close enough to Hoek van Holland to know when we would get there, and with decent 4g signal I booked our ferry home.

59km, Total 4941km

Friday 26th July – Day 84

Castricum to Noordwijkerhout

Hot and sunny again. Lovely sand dune trails southwards to Wijk an Meer where we got pastries and lunch supplies. It was then inland through more urban terrain and a ferry across the NordSee Canal.
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More urban riding led back into the dunes, hilly to Zandvoort where we stopped at a supermarket, then another 10km stretch of nice dune trail to a stop for icecream at Langerverduin.
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It was now very hot, so time to go in search of a campsite with space – there are lots around here, and we found one with a few spaces for small tents, and it also had a bar for cold beers, as away from the beach it was now pushing 40c!

56km, Total 4997km
 
OP
RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
Saturday 27th July – Day 85

Noordwijkerhout to Hoek van Holland

Big storms overnight, and it was pretty overcast, but still warm and humid in the morning. It was very much a holiday site, so no-one else was up until well after 8am. Back to the Dune trail, and on to Noordwijk for pastries and lunch supplies. It was only as we ate our pastries that I realised that “Noordwijk” is actually a precise Dutch translation of “Norwich” our home town in the UK! It was then onwards into the familiar headwind, scenic undulating trail through lots more dunes. Through Den Haag on back roads and urban cyclepaths, then back out onto more dunes. Weather was getting steadily colder and more dismal. The final stretch was behind the floodbank, and into Hoek van Holland town centre. We had a couple of beers, taking refuge indoors, as it was now actually cold – about 16c, grey and dismal, nearly 24c colder than the previous day. We were also able to watch the penultimate stage of the Tour de France on the TV in the bar.
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We boarded the ferry at 19:30, had dinner on board, and headed to bed in our cabin as the ferry left port.

52km, Total 4549km

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Sunday 28th July – Day 86

Harwich to Saxmundham

Up at 5:45 in time for a light breakfast, we were already in port, but disembarkation didn't start until 6:45. It was cold, damp and windy as we left Parkeston Quay for the short ride to Ha'penny Pier for the ferry across to Felixstowe. It was a long, cold, wait for the first ferry at 9:10, though the cafe did open at 8:30 for a hot cuppa.
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A stiff wind blowing straight onto the quay made for choppy seas, so it was a tricky job loading bikes and panniers onto the boat. We were the only passengers, and we were soon unloading onto the beach near Landguard, Felixstowe.
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We carted everything across the beach and reloaded our bikes at the carpark, and rode off to the Morrisons in town for snacks and some lunch supplies – at least supermarkets are open on Sundays in the UK. I also hoped to buy some sort of map, but it seems in this age of technology supermarkets don't sell them any more! Planning a rough route using my phone we cycled out of town, a nasty bit of the A14, then quiet roads. Trying to avoid main roads we zig-zagged northwards through Woodbridge and Blaxhall, including a very muddy unsurfaced stretch, and lots of floodwater across the lanes – apparently there had been a huge amount of rain while we were safely ensconced in our cabin on the ferry. It remained cool and cloudy as we came to the campsite at Carlton Park, just outside Saxmundham. Saxmundham itself was pretty dead, so after pitching we cycled a short way to the Poachers Pocket at Carlton for some beer in the warm and dry. Weather remained dismal so we decided to eat in the pub.

64km, Total 4613km

Monday 29th July – Day 87

Saxmundham to Reedham

It was a fine and sunny morning. We could have made it home in one day from here, but as the weather had improved we decided to take our time – after nearly three months on the road we weren't actually in any hurry to get home! We followed small country lanes to join the NCN1 heading northwards, through Halesworth where we stopped for pastries, then on to Beccles where we stopped for a pint in the Bear and Bells. From there we crossed the Waveney, and into Norfolk, pretty much on home turf now as we went up to the ferry at Reedham, the one last ferry crossing, and to camp on the back field of the pleasant site at the Reedham Ferry Inn.
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It was a fine evening as we cooked on the campsite, and a couple of nice pints in the pub.

58km, Total 4671km

Tuesday 30th July – Day 88

Reedham to Norwich

It was another fine warm morning, but we really couldn't put off getting home any longer, so we cycled north through Acle then Upton and South Walsham and to Salhouse where stopped at our elder daughters to collect our car which she had been storing for us. Looaded kit into the car, and bikes on the back and were soon home in Norwich by lunchtime.

22km, Total 4693km

Well, that's the story of our 2019 trip. I will give some information about our bikes, kit, and how everything worked that may be of help to anyone planning this sort of jaunt, but if anyone had any questions ask away!
 
Thanks for taking the time and trouble to write up such a comprehensive and most detailed trip report and wondered how you manage to remember all of the information.

Would make a good book to read as its kept me good for an hour or so and great photos as well and just wondered where your next trip will be to.
 

Pat "5mph"

A kilogrammicaly challenged woman
Moderator
Location
Glasgow
Thanks very much for posting your tour, I enjoyed the read very much!
The relentless headwind made me tired too!
 
Location
N Somerset
What a brilliant read. I don't suppose you have a map/strava trace of the route too? i'm dreaming of having more than two weeks to tour. so you really can go with the flow, stop in the nice places, have rest days when you need them etc. thank you for writing it up and great photos.
 
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RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
In terms of route, we don't do strava or anything like that, but we do roughly follow recognised long distance cycle routes where possible. Our route therefore consisted of sections of greenways and canal towpaths to Nantes, from there it was the Eurovelo 6 to Bratislava, along the way this is signed as the "Loire a velo", the Tour de Bourgogne, the Rhone a Rhine route, the Rhine cycleway, and the Danube cycleroute. From Prague it was the Elbe cycleroute, followed by some of the North sea cycle route. For maps we used a few pages torn from a Brittany Greenways booklet for the stretch to Nantes, then the Huber Cartographic map sets Eurovelo 6 Atlantic to Rhine (1-6) and Basel to Budapest (1-7). For the Elbe we had a tourist pamphlet for the first half, then bought the Bikeline Elbe Radweg 2 (Bikeline guides are very good, and volume 1 would have been handy as well!). From Cuxhaven we bought the Kompass Nordseekusten Radweg 1 which took us to the Dutch border. In the Netherlands we eventually found a cycle atlas of the whole country - the Falk Fietsatlas, which was really good. In the UK we just followed our noses! By the end of the trip I was carrying two kilos of maps and guidebooks.

The advantage of cycleroutes is that there are more facilities, campsites, bars, shops etc. and navigation is much easier. Downside is that some routes are so averse to "busy" roads that you go miles round back alleys instead of a few hundred yards on roads that in the UK would considered very quiet.
 
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RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
Our bikes, what worked, what didn't:

Our Revolution Tourers are four and half years old now, and after this trip have covered a total of about 15000km of heavily loaded touring. They were showing the strain a bit on this tour and do need some major refurbing ready for next year. During the trip we had a small number of failures:
My rear gear cable snapped in the brifter. This got fixed by Decathlon, even if I had taken a spare I couldn't have done it myself because of where it had snapped.
Janet broke a mudguard stay - we bodged this and it was fine for the rest of the trip, but now needs a new mudguard.
Janet's rear wheel broke - this was easily replaced in Germany. Mine had broken on an earlier trip in France, but as we now both have stronger wheels they should be OK for next year.
Tyres - Schwalbe Marathon Plus and Plus Tour tyres meant no punctures, but towards the end Janet's that dated back to buying in Bonn on a previous trip were completely worn out. Mine new for this trip were fine - moral - buy new tyres before you go!
Spare parts and tools - just take a basic multi-tool, puncture repair patches, and two spare tubes. Anything else can be bought if needed.
Janet did have an annoying squeak from her front BB5 disc brake for the first 1000km - whenever I looked at it and tweaked it, it was fine, but the squeak always came back. Eventually we discovered that the end of the cable was getting trapped when she put her front pannier on stopping it from fully releasing! Just twisting the cable the other side of the rack cured it!
 
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RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
Fitness and health:
We were completely bike-unfit when we started so distances were quite short. Saddle-soreness was combatted with French supermarket nappy rash cream. After the first 1000km we were fitter, and felt good cycling all day. Janet also lost 18lbs in weight in the course of the trip (a good result). We had no health issues, and in the whole three months never had as much as a cold or headache.
 
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RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
Notes about the Headwinds:
For the main section of the route heading east along the EV6 we were expecting a good proportion of westerly winds, as that is normal at these latitudes. This did not happen, and we had day after day of strong easterlies. From Prague to the North Sea the guide does warn that winds are normally from the North West, this was correct, but not just "normally", in fact every single day the wind was against us, many of those days with strong winds. Even the last stretch along from Cuxhaven to Hook of Holland the largely went round to South Westerly, so was still against us. In the whole 90 days we had just 2 days with strong tailwinds, 8 or nine with variable winds, the rest with headwinds, and on at least 40 of those the winds were strong enough to make cycling hard work.
 
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RobinS

RobinS

Senior Member
Location
Norwich
Shelter and sleeping:
We used a Vango Force 10 Xenon 2plus for the trip. It had been used for six weeks previously and gave no problems. It packs small, weighs less than 2.5kg, and as well as housing us has a large porch for kit. Only one downside, with doors shut to keep mozzies out it is not very well ventilated.
Our sleeping bags are Vango Venom 200 down bags, rated down to plus 4c, and again pack very small. We use microfibre bag liners, mainly to keep the bags clean, and use them on their own when it is hot. We find these, plus wrapping our feet with a mid-layer jacket is tolerable down to -4c in the early season.
We both use Nemo Tensor Insulated mats, again very light and pack small. Janet's 2017 model had a fault where some of the internal baffles pulled causing slow punctures. These were easily fixable along the way and it was replaced under warranty when we got home. My 2018 model had no faults. We also use homemade microfibre covers on the mats - keeps them clean on long tours (if they get greasy, if you need to patch them the patches wont stick!).
We also use OEX self inflating pillows, again with homemade microfibre covers, as since we are getting on a bit we need comfort!
 
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