Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Finally we arrive in Germany. Instantly across the border there is a different feel to the place. It's not entirely inhospitable but perhaps slightly less liberal than the Netherlands.
The terrain is fairly similar to the Netherlands, as much of the route continues along the coast, and again is on the whole flat.  Much of the camping in Germany is in larger caravan park style sites.  I wasn't so keen on this set up and the locals didn't seem to understand the concept of sleeping in a tent anywhere other than one of these caravan parks.  The Germans seemed to go in for their caravans/motorhomes in a big way and had all the gear to go with them too.  I was pretty impressed by a German guy in budgie smugglers lighting a barbecue which can only be described as medieval style with a bottle gas flame thrower!  On one of the occasions that we managed to avoid the caravan parks, we managed to find an overgrown piece of wasteland to hide in.  During the night I woke up as something rattling the pots we had left outside followed by something substantial caving the side of my tent in.  The snapped tent pole and couple of tears in the tent fabric lead me to believe it was a deer.  Pretty sure those tears in the tent were a close shave from being skewered by a set of antlers.  What do you do when you have a snapped tent pole?  I managed a repair with a detachable handle from my chain tool, luckily it fitted perfectly.
Much of the coastline in Germany is similar to the Netherlands as it's very flat.  The Germans seem to flock to places on this coast for their holidays on the beach but the beach itself is strangely inhospitable.  It's great territory for birdwatchers as it's largely grey mudflats.  The German kids seem happy enough to play in it with their buckets and spades though.

Friday, 21 August 2009

We are having to catch up on the blog as most of our time has been spent cycling, surprisingly enough. We are actually now in Kristiansand Norway but here is the post for the Netherlands which was largely flat, Very flat! The Dutch cycle in a big way, there are cycle lanes everywhere but be warned as they are often shared by mopeds too, which makes for some interesting close shaves. At times I felt like I'd be safer taking my chances on the road with the cars as everyone seems so comfortable riding their bikes that they don't seem to think you need much space. Bikes in the Netherlands seem very much the vehicle to use so they are all cyclists, not enthusiastic lycra clad types, it's just a part of everyday life. In the cities there are bike garages where, for a small fee, you can leave your bike for the day and into the evening. Very handy for us as we camped a short cycle ride out of the city in Amsterdam cycling in each day, leaving our bikes at the garage to explore the sights and smells. Resuming the route in Harlem the much of the riding was flat alongside the dyke.
Lovely stretches of coastline, even if the flatness starts to get a bit monotonous after a while. We stayed a lot in campsites, which seemed to fall into two categories with the 'small' campsites being family run affairs, cheaper and more suitable for us with our tents. There are also larger sites which are exactly that and you're more likely to see electric hookups and caravans etc. On the whole camping was pretty cheap in the Netherlands expect to pay between 5-7 Euros for the smaller campsites. We found them to be friendlier affairs and some would have their own eggs for sale or berries you could pick.

Additionally to the route we initially decided to take in some islands, it's possible to island hop before returning to the main route. We travelled to Texel via bike where we stayed a night only to find that the next day the small ferry wouldn't leave till five in the evening and was fully booked till the next day. Some of these smaller ferries are used fairly frequently by locals with vehicles. Take this as a warning, if time is no object they are worth a look, however it can be tricky lining up space on a ferry with your riding times. We begrudgingly returned the way we had come rather than waste a day on an island fairly exposed to the elements. The islands are quite windswept and flat with sand dunes, beautiful but very exposed. Back on the mainland, we had an amazingly strong tail wind which got us across the 30km or so 'Afsluitdijk' in 50 minutes (with a short break!) I pity anyone who was riding the opposite way and some people have told us that it took them three hours to cross. Lucky us!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

We finally completed the English leg of our trip a few days ago. we had to fix a spoke along the way and were kindly assisted by the folk at Pilgrims Way (Boston) campsite who all mucked in, driving us to Halfords etc. In 16 nights we spent five in campsites and the rest free camping assisted by a friendly farmer. If you go through a hawthorne hedge at the side of the road there is often a space under trees to put two tents. Common land, railway track land and in Tim's case a recreation ground all yielded a place to stay for the night.

England had pockets of charm and interesting countryside along side dreary indentical town centres. Lincolnshire was entirely flat and open (not much scope for camping), the North York Moors were rugged and mixed in with rolling green countryside and hundreds of sheep. There were some quite steep climbs which were of course dispatched with ease and poise in the searing mid day heat.

Cities like Sunderland, Middlesborough and Hull gave us warren like cycle paths to negotiate through sometimes run down housing estates. All the people in these cities seemed to be particualrly friendly and helpful reinforcing the notion the northerners are more approachable etc.

Further south came endless corn fields and more hills. matt experienced mild sensory deprivation and madness from nothing-but-corn-and-trees-and-this-lane and tiny towns with names like Norfield.

Due to a slight bit of road weirdness the pair were separated somewhere near beccles. Tim wisely followed the route (legitimately) to a ferry crossing from Stokesly to Harwich and waited for Matt. Meanwhile Matt is flogging himself to death by going all the way out to Colchester on the main route, getting lost in Colchester (heading toward London for a while), having mechanical woes and just getting to Harwich as the sun went down only to be told the ferry is full. One B&B and a ferry later the riders met up in Hook of Holland.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Stockton so far

We are in Stockton on Tees, we have been riding solidly everyday, apart from today. Having trouble uploading photos in local libraries so will update soon with some photos. We are hoping to get to the ferry in Harwich in the same time again, or less.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Leith Leaving do!

This Saturday! We will be having our fancy dress, charity Raffle, Bike Polo, Fixed Gear films, leaving extravaganza. It's a registered Bike Week event so come down and join in. We hope to raise some last minute funds from the Raffle with some great prizes. Hope to see you there! We leave the next day!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Me on Rollapaluza the other night at edinburgh's nocturne event. Had a really good time, lots of folk came out for it and Edinburgh suddenly seemed continental with everyone outside various bars watching the cycle races. I was seeing spots after this I was really going for it, I beat my opponent but I won't name and shame you'll have to check the rest of the photos at www.rollapaluza.com

Wednesday, 27 May 2009