On leaving the campsite outside Maurik I was soon back up on the dikes, following the river towards Rotterdam. The riverbanks are quite pretty along this stretch, although it is very, very flat.
Having cycled along the dikes for a few hours, I kind of understand the whole windmill thing now. Being totally flat, the Netherlands does get some decent wind. Most of it blowing in my face on a warm day. It made the riding a little tough, but I think I’d take it’s cooling effects on what was a pretty warm day without being brightly sunny.
I pootled along, only 53 miles so there was no great rush and I could be pretty certain there wouldn’t be another Oberalppass around the corner.
I passed through some very “Dutch” looking villages, constantly tempted by signs for cold beer. But I pushed on and grabbed a ferry to the northern bank; ( a whole 70 cents for me and the bike)
The northern bank was much the same, flat dikes and pretty villages;
By the time I’d stopped for lunch and had a break I had only 23 miles to go – so I got my skates on, put the camera away rode hard for Rotterdam. I made it into town around 4pm and headed for the hotel near the station which I had booked earlier that day.
After a long soak in the bath I headed out for a few beers, check in at the station to book my ticket for the next morning and grab a meal in a rather good pub / bistro Le Nord
Then I headed for bed. All that remained to do was get myself, the bike and luggage home again the next day.
That part was surprisingly easy. I rode down to the station and dismantled the bike, stuffing it into the bike bag for the Thalys train to Lille. From here, I was able to reassemble the bike and catch a train to Calais Ville, a short ride down to the Ferry port. As luck would have it I rode straight onto a ferry (DFDS) with no waiting at all. At the other end I rode off the ferry and up to Dover Priory, where within five minutes I was on a train bound for Margate. The most stupidly easy journey ever – especially when compared to last year’s rain driven journey from hell!
All in all I think I was about done with this trip by the time I hit the hotel in Rotterdam so it was a good job the journey home was easy. The past couple of days had been pretty dull scenery wise and no hills to challenge the cycling ability or endurance.
I think in retrospect, the better way to cycle the Rhine is to start at the sea and head for it’s source. That way at the start of your ride you have a few easy days pootling along the dikes before the land becomes gradually more challenging and interesting as the trip goes on. Building up to the real challenge of the Upper Rhine and the Alps. By the time you hit the real hills, the cycling rhythm should be well set and the legs strong enough to cope with them.
This trip has been all about the cycling – it was pretty full each day, not leaving much time for tourism. I’m contemplating halving the distances for the next one. 850 miles in 2 weeks is pretty all consuming. Next time I may go for something where I only have to cycle half a day each day – leaving time to explore a little more.