Last weekend there was a Bible study weekend in the Southern part of The Netherlands. Just as two years ago I took my recumbent to cover the distance, but with a few differences. First of all there was the location. Last year it was in Maasbommel, now it was Esbeek. Resulting in a distance increase from 216 to 272 kilometers. Seeing that I now own a second recumbent (my velomobile), I could use it for this long trip. Two years ago I covered the distance with my Nazca Fuego which I had for only two months. Now I am more accustomed to long distances. So, here is the report of that weekend.
Friday morning at 4 AM the alarm clock sounded and just before 5 AM I was ready to go. My lights were on and I started rolling. The first two hours were in the dark, which didn't cause that much of a problem (I had plenty of light on my bike), except that I sometimes got blinded by oncoming cars (it was raining that day). Also there were a number of roadworks which caused me to sometimes take another route, more on that later. Around 7 AM it started to get brighter and that makes riding a bit more relaxing, especially when riding in a unknown area with bendy with autumn leafs covered roads through the forest.
So now and then I took the occasional break. The first was after 1 hour and 15 minutes to eat and take a whiz. After another 1,5 hours I arrived in Meppel where I took another short break. Then in Heerde I stopped at the local bakery for a cup of thee with a tompouce and a sausage roll. The journey continued through Apeldoorn until I reached Arnhem. There things almost went wrong. I was driving down the Paul Krugerstraat whilst looking at my GPS receiver to see where I should go next. This street goes down quite a bit and a speed of about 35 til 40 km/h was easily reached (without extra pedaling). Then I suddenly heard: KLABAM!. It turned out that the road had a very nice black colored speed bump. I was flying though the air with all three wheels off the ground. Upon landing the bike swerved back and forth, but luckily I could keep it under control. When I calmed down a bit from the shock I found myself on the bus lane in the middle of an intersection. But that wasn't the only 'dangerous' thing in Arnhem (well, close to Arnhem actually). When leaving Elden I wanted to cross the roundabout at the Batavierenweg (cyclist have priority here), a oncoming car didn't agree with the priority or thought that she had to go before me. Anyway, a small maneuver and a loud scream helped to survive the situation.
Nijmegen was the next place (just as Arnhem) where a big river had to be crossed. After crossing this big city I stopped at Zwanenveld near a snack bar for some fries with joppiesaus and a frikandel and a AA-drink. Whilst eating the snack bar owners were looking at my bike (whilst smoking outside). Trying to resume my journey I first had to answer all kind of (standard) questions about the bike.
Just after Herpen I had to take a short ride though a forest, were it not for the fact that they were busy wit some roadworks (as mentioned earlier), causing me from continuing my journey. After a small detour... the same roadworks and I could continue again. So after making a even bigger detour to cut of a bit through a dirt road through the forest to get to the cycle path. As usual the dirt road was closed of with a barrier. Next to that was a small opening for hikers and cyclist to go though. When passing that opening I heard that 'bad' sound: KLABAM! Oh no, not again. Quickly got out of the bike to see what the damage was. Luckily nothing was broken. It turned out that there was a 10 cm high tree trunk in the middle of the small opening. I hit it with my left tire (fortunately), else the body of the bike would be damaged which would be a expensive repair.
When it was around 5:30 PM I should be arriving at my destination. The Fietersbond (Cyclist Union) has a route planner but it doesn't (yet) cover the bottom half of The Netherlands so the last 60 kilometers had to be ridden with a Google Maps created track. In the final kilometer it tried to send me on a muddy road. At first I thought, well, it's just a small bit, but after a while the water filled puddles started to get as wide as the road itself causing my to almost not make it. Now and then I scooped water and mud in my bike. About one third I discovered that I was driving on the wrong road. So, get out of the bike, turn in around and go back to the main road. A small steering mistake at one of the puddles caused the water to almost enter the bike though the side (well, that's how it felt). Carefully I got out of the bike and pushed it onto the dry. Then I decided to only take main roads. On arrival at De Kievit I parked my bike, emptied it, took a shower and joined the rest at the evening meal. I realy needed that. I thought that the journey would take about 13-14 hours, but eventually it only took 12 hours and 45 minutes.
The subject of the weekend was "Whole of the Scripture is inspired by God..." and we talked about the difference between the written Word and the spoken Word. The Scripture (read: the Bible) consists of 'dead' letters which come to life by speaking them. The weekend was made up out of 4 'services, Friday evening, Saturday morning / -evening and Sunday morning. The last one was closed with the celebration of the Holy Last Supper. Beside the serious stuff there was also time to relax, talk to each other and a free Saturday afternoon for talking a walk. I decided to find a geocache nearby. Somewhere in the middle of the forest, which was turned into a slippery, wet and with leafs covered nightmare, the cache was waiting for me. Only the autumn leaves and the wet and muddy ground didn't make it easy. After half a hour I gave up. I was tired and cold, my hands were black from the mud and it started to get dark. Maybe next year. Another thing I did Saturday afternoon was fix a small puncture in my right tire. I guess during the adventures of the 'roller coaster ride' in Arnhem of the mud pools of doom near my destination had something to do with it.
Sunday afternoon was that time ago to go home, but not before eating a delicious meal. Just like the last two days the food was very good. A hamburger and fries with mayo provided the necessary energy to cycle to Amersfoort where I would stay for the night at Johann Schouten, fellow ROAM-rider. Oh, I also got asked the question: "Don't you have a car?". Well, I do, but this was a good opportunity to get some training kilometers in preparation for my trip to America, august next year. Anyway, to Amersfoort was just a little bit over 100 kilometer, a nice distance. Between Doorn and Amersfoort was a nice road where you could cycle in one straight line. There was only one large hill to cover which didn't go vast going up. But as the saying goes you have to go down again. Riding in the dark and without my cycling glasses my eyes started to tear around 70 km/h, luckily the road was quite wide.
At exactly 7 PM I rang the bell and after a quick shower and a pizza we watched a movie, Postal (a very lame but funny movie). I had to sleep in my sleeping bag on the couch but that went well, so the the next morning I left at just before 8 AM for the last stretch (163 km) home. There's nothing interesting to tell about that, other than that there were a lot of students with there bikes. When I got home I checked how much I cycled in these few days... turns out to be 545 kilometers. A good training.