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  1. #1
    Senior Mumbler steve2k's Avatar
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    4 days, 400 miles, 4 countries

    I posted a number of questions over in the touring forum about my upcoming tour, mostly along the lines of "am I going to die?". The Historian was good enough to chip in with some advice and suggested I post details of my tour over here on account of being a clyde.

    So here it is:
    On Thursday the 11th of June a friend and I are going to try and cycle 400 miles to 4 countries in 4 days.
    - We start in London and cycle 90 miles to a Ferry port where catch an overnight ferry.
    - We wake up in Holland where we cycle north, via Amsterdam to our overnight stop in Northern Holland, again about 90 miles.
    - We then head south east, going over a cool 16mile bridge type thing, and after about 90 miles get to Germany, 10 miles into Germany is where we stay.
    - The last day is about 120 miles from Germany, through Holland and into Belgium ending up in Brussels.
    - The next day, at 4pm we get on a Eurostar train from Brussels back to London.

    I'm a 220lb oaf, my cycling partner (not life-partner, although there's nothing wrong with that) is considerably lighter, but we seem to be fairly well suited cycling wise. We've cycled together before and are well matched in terms of pace.

    This is the first tour for both of us, but we seem to to have the same sort of attitude towards this trip i.e. we've got all day to do the distances and we'd rather be on the bikes in the countryside than sitting in an Amsterdam cafe. We're both wildly ignorant of how painful this will be and are charging ahead building ourselves up for this adventure.

    Now please, bearing in mind I leave in 3 weeks and it's all booked, please don't say too much to shatter my fragile confidence. I'm looking for words of advice and words of encouragement.

  2. #2
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    All I'll have to say is "HAVE FUN!" and I'm jealous.
    Be sure to post about it in this section down below the threads.
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    We have a newly active section in Touring i'm trying to get rolling again.
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  3. #3
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    You may not make it unless it is down hill.
    Have fun and ride safe.

  4. #4
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve2k View Post
    I posted a number of questions over in the touring forum about my upcoming tour, mostly along the lines of "am I going to die?". The Historian was good enough to chip in with some advice and suggested I post details of my tour over here on account of being a clyde.

    So here it is:
    On Thursday the 11th of June a friend and I are going to try and cycle 400 miles to 4 countries in 4 days.
    - We start in London and cycle 90 miles to a Ferry port where catch an overnight ferry.
    - We wake up in Holland where we cycle north, via Amsterdam to our overnight stop in Northern Holland, again about 90 miles.
    - We then head south east, going over a cool 16mile bridge type thing, and after about 90 miles get to Germany, 10 miles into Germany is where we stay.
    - The last day is about 120 miles from Germany, through Holland and into Belgium ending up in Brussels.
    - The next day, at 4pm we get on a Eurostar train from Brussels back to London.

    I'm a 220lb oaf, my cycling partner (not life-partner, although there's nothing wrong with that) is considerably lighter, but we seem to be fairly well suited cycling wise. We've cycled together before and are well matched in terms of pace.

    This is the first tour for both of us, but we seem to to have the same sort of attitude towards this trip i.e. we've got all day to do the distances and we'd rather be on the bikes in the countryside than sitting in an Amsterdam cafe. We're both wildly ignorant of how painful this will be and are charging ahead building ourselves up for this adventure.

    Now please, bearing in mind I leave in 3 weeks and it's all booked, please don't say too much to shatter my fragile confidence. I'm looking for words of advice and words of encouragement.
    Are you riding now? You need to get in saddle time. 100 miles at 10 MPH is 10 hours. Can you be comfortable sitting on a bike for ten hours?

    My suggestion is to ride 5-6 days a week to get used to being on the bike. Commute on it if you can. Use it for errands. And try to get in at least one long ride beforehand.

  5. #5
    Senior Mumbler steve2k's Avatar
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    I commute about 15 miles round trip which I've done every day for about 2 years. I've also ridden 5 or 6 longer rides 50-75 miles in that time. Last Sunday I did 60 miles in 4 and a bit hours and commuted the next day. I'm hoping to get at least one more ride in of about 80 miles before we go, and I've got a gentle 40 mile ride the Sunday before we leave.

    Our plan is to head out at 8am each day and spend the day cycling, if it takes us 12 hours to do 100 miles then so be it, we're in no rush and we have no deadlines. We could even cycle through the night if needs be (that sounds like an adventure all by itself).

    I'm not worried by the 100 miles, I'm slightly concerned about the 100 miles day after day, but how hard can it be?

  6. #6
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    It would take me a year to work up to those distances. Great trip, however. Are there prerequisites?

    Michael
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  7. #7
    karma is my higher power w00die's Avatar
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    Not sure if you have considered this but it m ight be a good thing to have. Look into bike shops along your route, that way if something should break or bend you'll know a place to get it fixed or adjusted. Also consider making a few contingency plans like are there trains or buses available that you could use with your bikes and gear in case the weather goes bad or one of you gets hurt or are unable to complete a given distance for some reason.

    I am sure you will have a blast, the weather will be great and nothing will break, but its better to have a plan and not need it then to need it and not have made the back up plans.

    Take a Camera for sure as we will all love to see pictures and you will have them for the future to reminisce about.

    Happy riding!

  8. #8
    Senior Mumbler steve2k's Avatar
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    Good tip about bike shops w00die. We pass major cities every so often so will be able to limp to a train station if the worst happens. I also have a brother in law in Brussels who will be able to help with making any emergency arrangements if we need help.

    I'm not sure what you mean about prerequisites Michael can you clarify (it's late here)?

  9. #9
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by w00die View Post
    Not sure if you have considered this but it m ight be a good thing to have. Look into bike shops along your route, that way if something should break or bend you'll know a place to get it fixed or adjusted. Also consider making a few contingency plans like are there trains or buses available that you could use with your bikes and gear in case the weather goes bad or one of you gets hurt or are unable to complete a given distance for some reason.

    I am sure you will have a blast, the weather will be great and nothing will break, but its better to have a plan and not need it then to need it and not have made the back up plans.

    Take a Camera for sure as we will all love to see pictures and you will have them for the future to reminisce about.

    Happy riding!
    It's Europe. The whole continent aside from France and Spain is little larger than Ohio.

  10. #10
    karma is my higher power w00die's Avatar
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    Yes but its o' so much more diverse.

  11. #11
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by w00die View Post
    Yes but its o' so much more diverse.
    Yep, Ohio is mostly Midwesterner and Mexican.

  12. #12
    karma is my higher power w00die's Avatar
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    Stop it you are gonna make me pee myself.

  13. #13
    Tilting with windmills txvintage's Avatar
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    I take it you are "credit card" touring in that you are not hauling panniers loaded with camping gear and all of your food? If this is the case your distances are much easier to obtain. If you are traveling loaded you are most likely looking at a 10 - 12 mph average.It sounds like an awesome adventure, and I'm envious!Say hello to Eddy Merkx for me when you get to Belgum!

  14. #14
    Senior Mumbler steve2k's Avatar
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    We're only going to be away for 4 nights and we'll be staying in hotels so we'll be packing light and not taking camping gear. I'm sure we can do the distances, it's just a case of keeping pedaling right? How hard can it be?

  15. #15
    Bikezilla Mazama's Avatar
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    I'll be in Brussels June 16th. I will have a toast in your honor.
    14,000 miles and rolling...

  16. #16
    Senior Mumbler steve2k's Avatar
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    I leave the day before. I'll let them know you're coming.

  17. #17
    Tilting with windmills txvintage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mazama View Post
    I'll be in Brussels June 16th. I will have a toast in your honor.
    Getting custom Merckx? I know there are other reasons o go, but this ops my list, followed closely by riding my elusive E.M.

  18. #18
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve2k View Post
    We're only going to be away for 4 nights and we'll be staying in hotels so we'll be packing light and not taking camping gear. I'm sure we can do the distances, it's just a case of keeping pedaling right? How hard can it be?
    Day Three, your butt will tell you what Sore is.

  19. #19
    Tilting with windmills txvintage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve2k View Post
    We're only going to be away for 4 nights and we'll be staying in hotels so we'll be packing light and not taking camping gear. I'm sure we can do the distances, it's just a case of keeping pedaling right? How hard can it be?
    I dunno, are you climbing any mountain ranges?

  20. #20
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve2k View Post
    I posted a number of questions over in the touring forum about my upcoming tour, mostly along the lines of "am I going to die?". The Historian was good enough to chip in with some advice and suggested I post details of my tour over here on account of being a clyde.

    <SNIP>

    This is the first tour for both of us, but we seem to to have the same sort of attitude towards this trip i.e. we've got all day to do the distances and we'd rather be on the bikes in the countryside than sitting in an Amsterdam cafe. We're both wildly ignorant of how painful this will be and are charging ahead building ourselves up for this adventure.

    Now please, bearing in mind I leave in 3 weeks and it's all booked, please don't say too much to shatter my fragile confidence. I'm looking for words of advice and words of encouragement.
    That is a pretty high number of miles each day. Remember that you will feel VERY tired the 1st day as you'll be pretty jet lagged. I usually do fine during the morning hours but start to face FAST in the afternoon. I have little experience riding in the UK, but I do know London is pretty crazy (ever watch the Top Gear episode where Hammond races accross London on his bike vs. the reset of the crew using an SUV, the bus/train, and the other on a boat). If you think 90 miles the 1st day my be too much to handle with jet leg, maybe take a train part of the way to the coast. Maybe take the train half way and then enjoy the ride to the coast.

    As far as cycling in Holland, I've done loads of that myself. The main thing is you are going to need a good detailed map. Reach out to the VVV when you arrive in Hook of Holland and see if there is one in the area. Maps are NOT free in Holland, even from the tourist office. They have maps specifically with bike routes on it. If you don't have a dedicated bike map then you need to know how what towns you want to pass through. The bike network in Holland it absolutely amazing. At every intersection there will either be a marker on the ground that points you to the next town and the distance, or there will be signs over-head. The way you navigate is from town to town.

    Where specifically in North Holland are you staying? I can help direct you on a good path if you let me know. If you don't have a hotel reserved yet, I can highly recommend the Best Western Hotel Spaander in Volendam. I stayed there back in 2003, and was blown away by the hotel. Nice large rooms, fantastic comfy bed, and a stunning view over the "Gouw Zee."

    Be advised that Holland can be very Windy. Its flat as a pancake so wind at your back is excellent. Head wind can be absolutely brutal. I was staying in Egmond Aan Zee last year for two weeks at the end of June/early July. We pretty much had stead 15 to 20 MPH winds coming off the sea EVERY day. I had no problems riding, but the rest of the family didn't get out on any lon bike tracks. It also explains why they put two large wind farms right off the coast there in the North Sea.

    Depending on where exactly you over-night in Holland would dictate your exact route. In general I'd advise you to stick along the coast line for the 1st streach of your ride. The whole coast has a phenominal network of nice cycling routes through the nature preserves. You'd want to head Due North through Rotterdam heading towards Scheneveningen. This will probably be the hardest part to navigate as you'll had through the cities or Rotterdam and The Hague. Keep going N-NE to Wassenaar (this is where all the rich and connected live). Keep following the coast N via Noordwijk to Haarlem. From Haarlem head E to Amersterdam. In Amsterdam you want to end up at the Back of Centraal Station (the main train station). Take the ferry accross to Amsterdam Noord. You want to roughtly follow the N247. I know for a fact there is a nice path there that take you through the Polder land scape (this is an area where I spent a good part of my youth and get back to often). Head towards Broek in Waterland. Follow to Monnickendam, and keep going North path Edam (yes the place where Edam Cheese comes from). Go past Horn and keep going straight North following the A7. At Den Oever get onto the Afslijtdijk and be prepared for a mind numbing 16 mile ride along the dike that closed off the for inland sea and turned it instead into Ijsel Meer. From there pass through Leeuwarden over to Groningen and then onto the German border. That part of Holland I've never been to so I can't speak to any good routes.

    As far as getting back to Belgium from Germany. Be advised that you are probably going to be heading straight INTO the wind on this leg. I can speak from experience that the Province of Drenthe is beautiful and as with all of Holland there are bike paths to take you everywhere. A nice route would be Assen to Hoogeveen to Zwolle to Harderwijk to Utrecht. If at this point you were completely exhausted you could easily pick up a train here and take one part of the way to the Belgian border. Otherwise just continue S-W to the Belgian border - Contue to Dordrecht (you'd have to check with the locals on how to cross the rider as I don't know where they have cycling/pedestrian crossings). The continue via Berg op Zoomdown into Belgium, then head West to your final destination.

    Do be sure to check the weather forcast closely. Last year we experienced a high of 78 on 1 day. Most days were about 65 to 72. I was lucky and was mostly dry for two weeks. When we left my parents and sister were staying for an extr 2 days and experienced two days of heady rain. Be prepared for rain!

    It sounds like a great time.

    Please let us know how it went and happy riding!
    André

  21. #21
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    ^^ the OP lives in England.
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  22. #22
    Senior Mumbler steve2k's Avatar
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    André,
    Thanks for taking the time to type that long reply, it's greatly appreciated. As pointed out, I'm in England to start with so have no jet lag problems.

    Here's a high level map of our trip, not quite what you mentioned, but there were some overlaps. Our overnights will be in Hoorn or Enkhuizen and then in Kleve in Germany before meeting up with my brother in law for the last night in Brussels.

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve2k View Post
    André,
    Thanks for taking the time to type that long reply, it's greatly appreciated. As pointed out, I'm in England to start with so have no jet lag problems.

    Here's a high level map of our trip, not quite what you mentioned, but there were some overlaps. Our overnights will be in Hoorn or Enkhuizen and then in Kleve in Germany before meeting up with my brother in law for the last night in Brussels.
    Sorry for not noting your UK location... so many Americans on the list that it is easy to forget that we DO have an international body of members. At least you should know how to find a descent cycling route to get from London to the coast.

    I also didn't realize you were cutting accross the Markerwaard dijk rather than the Afsluitdijk farther north. I just went accross that last Summer. It is a long dike... I think it took a better part of 30 minutes by car. Just hope that you have a little tail wind, it will go by a lot faster then, not much scenery after a while as all you see is water around you. As far as Arnhem the landscape should be pretty much flat as a pancake so realy your only possible "enemy" is wind. I haven't been in the direction of Einhoven in decades so I can't remember how flat that part of the country is. Either way you should have a fantastic ride. Please give us a write-up when you are done.

    Happy riding,
    André

  24. #24
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    I think the problem is that if you're not used that kind of saddle time, you may get uncomfortable and miserable after the first 50 miles. If that happens, you've got 350 more miles to go over the next few days and it may not be as fun as you had hoped.

    But hope for the best and be prepared to take a train if necessary.

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