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Old 04-16-09, 09:31 AM   #1
steve2k
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London, Amsterdam Brussels - First tour

Hello,
A friend and I are cycling from London to Amsterdam then to Brussels in June and I've got a few questions I hope people can help with. It's my first tour, his too, and we're a bit in the dark about what to expect.

Here's the itinerary:
Day 1: London - Harwich: 90 miles (ferry overnight)
Day 2: Hook of Holland - Amsterdam : 50 miles
Day 3: Amsterdam - some town: 80 miles
Day 4: some town - Brussels: 80 miles
Day 5: Eurostar home.

I guess we'll never be far from food or drink and we'll be staying in hotels overnight.

A few things I've learnt from reading this forum and other sites:
- get a good bike lock, take the bike inside when possible.
- get up early and get going so you can stop on the way.
- plan the route properly so we don't stop every 10 minutes to check a map.
- stop every hour or so to take in the sights and stretch our legs.
- our daily distance is on the long side compared to most tours so we may not have that much time to hang around and see the sites.


And I've got a few questions:
- How much should we be eating compared to a normal day, assuming we're cycling for 5-8 hours a day? What are good things to eat (we'll be eating in cafe's/restaurants most nights)
- How do people lock panniers to their bikes? I don't want to have to take the panniers off every time I pop into a cafe/shop.
- Are there any great tips for this sort of short tour.
- Can anyone recommend places to stay or things to see on our journey? We haven't planned the exact route so are a bit flexible.

Thanks in advance for your advice.
Steve
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Old 04-16-09, 09:56 AM   #2
FlowerBlossom
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You can stay in hotels that have places to lock bikes at night; ask to see the location before paying money. Usually, they are locked inside a locked area, and in the locked area you lock your bike.

You can buy food to take with you for lunches and snacks, reducing the need to worry about removing panniers from your bike. In smaller towns between Amsterdam and Brussels, you will likely be able to keep your eye on your bikes/panniers while you are inside eating. Or one of you can go inside the grocery to buy food while the other stands with the bikes. If you are credit card touring, you shouldn't all that much to carry, so taking the panniers off, if needed, should be a big deal, right?

We cycled to Gouda via Utrecht, then south to Kinderdijk, where there is a World Heritage site with windmills. Don't miss it. There's a ferry at Krimpen aan de Lek to cross the river to Kinderdijk. Just follow the signs. Can't help you after this; my friend crashed just after this, so we took the train to Brussels to rest her knee and then we rode out of Brussels.
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Old 04-16-09, 09:57 AM   #3
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Quote:
- How much should we be eating compared to a normal day, assuming we're cycling for 5-8 hours a day? What are good things to eat (we'll be eating in cafe's/restaurants most nights)
Your body converts food to energy for peddling. So the rule of thumb is to eat frequently, and more than you might expect. I try to nibble every hour or so, and sometimes more often. On long, difficult, hot hauls, I sip energy drinks -- Gatorade, or equivalent homemade brews.

What to eat? Everybody has a theory. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for someone else. Personally, I tend to focus on carbohydrates in the morning, and protein in the evening. A lot of folks warn against having a big lunch, but I usually do!

I have met a lot of people on the road who have theories about certain foods. For example, one fellow gave me pitiful looks for eating apples; he claimed that one should eat bananas. (I think the idea was that bananas contain plenty of potassium; but it is not the only source.) My own theory is that one should try to eat a variety of foods.

Quote:
- How do people lock panniers to their bikes? I don't want to have to take the panniers off every time I pop into a cafe/shop.
I have never locked my panniers, and I have been touring for decades. But I don't keep anything of value in my panniers. My passport, wallet, etc. always come with me. If somebody wants my stinky underwear that badly, they can have them!
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Old 04-23-09, 03:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve2k View Post
Hello,
A friend and I are cycling from London to Amsterdam then to Brussels in June and I've got a few questions I hope people can help with. It's my first tour, his too, and we're a bit in the dark about what to expect.

Here's the itinerary:
Day 1: London - Harwich: 90 miles (ferry overnight)
Day 2: Hook of Holland - Amsterdam : 50 miles
Day 3: Amsterdam - some town: 80 miles
Day 4: some town - Brussels: 80 miles
Day 5: Eurostar home.

I guess we'll never be far from food or drink and we'll be staying in hotels overnight.

A few things I've learnt from reading this forum and other sites:
- get a good bike lock, take the bike inside when possible.
- get up early and get going so you can stop on the way.
- plan the route properly so we don't stop every 10 minutes to check a map.
- stop every hour or so to take in the sights and stretch our legs.
- our daily distance is on the long side compared to most tours so we may not have that much time to hang around and see the sites.


And I've got a few questions:
- How much should we be eating compared to a normal day, assuming we're cycling for 5-8 hours a day?
What are good things to eat (we'll be eating in cafe's/restaurants most nights)
- How do people lock panniers to their bikes? I don't want to have to take the panniers off every time I pop into a cafe/shop.
- Are there any great tips for this sort of short tour.

- Can anyone recommend places to stay or things to see on our journey? We haven't planned the exact route so are a bit flexible.

Thanks in advance for your advice.
Steve
good ol' appel gebak can be found at just about every cafe in the natherlands.

as far as places to stay, going by the name, i believe this hotel caters to tourists. it's in a reasonably good location.
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Old 04-23-09, 12:07 PM   #5
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Eat whatever you want, you'll be hungry.

I found navigation to be time consuming in the Netherlands there are bike paths everywhere, well-signed but unless you are very familiar with the area, you have to keep checking your map to see which path you should be taking. Get good maps.

I didn't worry about panniers in the smaller towns, only in the big cities. I don't think there is a lot of point in locking panniers to the bike, somebody could just go through them and take what they want anyway.

Kinderdijk is worth seeing, I liked the old Hanseatic league cities like Kampen and Deventer.

I've heard Brussels is a nightmare to cycle through, you might want to consider a train into the city.

Sounds like a good little trip, have fun.
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Old 04-23-09, 03:33 PM   #6
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The best solution for frequent map reading is a map case on a bar bag. Take a small compass as well,, good in the city as well as countryside. I never plan exact routes, just the key pinch points (bridges, passes etc) that I have to get to. Often I start the day with a very hazy idea of where I want to finish.
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Old 04-24-09, 06:11 AM   #7
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Thanks all for the comments, good tip about the compass, I hadn't thought of that!
We did a trial run and found we stopped to check maps a lot, which really slowed out progress. I had worried about what skookum said about too many bike paths. So maybe we need to plan our route better, or worse. I feel a new question coming up.
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