Telgte to Amsterdam days 46 to 54 - 26th August to 3rd September 2012

The cycle route from Telgte to Amsterdam

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The Blog

Telgte to Amsterdam

Day 46 26th August Telgte to Legden (Day ND 6)

We don't know what it is about this tour but it seems to rain more often than not on the first day of each week. Today when we started it looked very black. It was very quiet, Germans taking Sundays seriously and almost everything is shut which makes for good cycling.

On our day off the management had completely revised the planned route . There was no real reason for him to do this except for the pleasure of doing it. The new route skirted Munster to the north and was entirely on cycle routes. It turned out to be a very enjoyable route with almost every sort of riding except serious off road. We are tending to avoid unmade tracks as they are hard work without nanny.

One of the nicest parts was a long length of single track tarmac through an oak wood. It wound closely between the trees and required care because there was every chance of meeting cyclists coming the other way.

After a couple of hours the inevitable rain started and we stopped to put on full waterproofs. It was mainly heavy showers but the sky never cleared and by lunch time looked very threatening indeed. At the little village of Holthaus we found a commodious bus shelter and were very glad we did as we stayed there for an hour and three quarters.

Just as we finished our usual picnic the skies opened. For the next hour we had a very noisy thunder storm complete with lightning right overhead. The rain was torrential as you can see from the photo. Mostly we have the cameras away when it rains but we had nothing much else to do until it stopped. Even when we did go on we stayed in waterproofs for the rest of the day.

After a fairly hard day with rain, headwinds and a few hills we were within a hundred metres of the hotel but could not get in because of a locked gate. The management retraced and found another way in but was not best pleased. It is one of those strange resort hotels but with a large number of empty rooms tonight. Judging by the advertising huge events are held, rock concerts and the like, when apparently it is completely full.

Day 47 27th August Legden, Germany to Eibergen, Nederland (Day ND 7)

It felt like, and probably was, the first day of autumn. Our events venue was clothed in mist as we crept out via the back door. It would normally have been locked but the skeleton staff who man the place got in that way. We were a bit annoyed because the venue blocks the cycle and walking path which is advertised locally and shown on their map.

Once out reality returned. We started the day by cycling through the village and onwards on a quite busy road (for here) with people going to work on this Monday morning. Few of them drove like the English, the Germans were driving at sensible speeds and with consideration for others including us.

At Stadtlohn we stopped for odds and ends and to explore the nice little town, our last in Germany. We continued on tiny roads which shadowed the border with Nederland. On our map there were no minor roads which crossed the border though judging by the cycle route signs we could have crossed easily enough if we had wanted to.

We emerged from the farm roads through the maize fields at the border village of Zwilboek where we had lunch. Strangely and almost surreally one of those unpleasant land trains went by.

At the border with Nederland there was no zigzag queue going through passport control and no x-ray machines. We had no trouble taking our liquids, including whisky, through. In fact the only sign of the border was a dilapidated building with a poster about a lost cat stuck to the window. The road markings changed a little and there were some signs.

Is someone conning us in the UK? Has Orwell's 1984 come true? Apart from the Turkish take over of fast food in Germany we have not noticed any Islamic action in Germany. Do we really need the controls we have at UK borders or is Big Brother fuelling our imagination?

Once over the border and very soon after lunch we arrived at our pleasantly small but rather expensive country hotel. Despite wind guru predictions we enjoyed the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine.

Day 48 28th August Eibergen to Zutphen (Day ND 8)

It was a ridiculously short ride today and the only excuse, not a very good one, is that it is our first full day in a new country.

Unsurprising we were ready to leave our nice hotel later than usual. We looked out of the window and saw a red squirrel on the lawn bold as brass. We have had the pleasure of seeing them quite often in Germany. There has been no sign of grey squirrels but we have often seen black or very dark brown ones which we assume are close relatives of the red.

It took a while to get used to the different road markings and cycle route system here. Also the car drivers, though not reduced to UK standards, drive faster and are not as considerate as those in Germany. We have to be more careful crossing roads. In Germany we almost always had right of way and in every instance in over three weeks of cycling German drivers stopped for us.

There are cycle routes everywhere. Often they are very wide and some smaller roads look rather like dual carriageways. One wonders what Dorset County Council engineers would make of it, confused?

This mass of cycle routes presents a difficulty for us in common with visitors to Dorset. There are signs, for example, for "The Marguerita Route", "Route 66" or the "Rodwell Trail". There are seldom signs which tell us where the routes go and some signing does not follow through. Imagine what the average car driver would make of that type of signing.

So today, having missed the access to a cycle bridge over a main road and finding ourselves on a fine wide cycle route signed Zutphen 25km, we not unreasonably followed it. This worked fine until we reached the pleasant little town of Ruurlo where the signing died. We could go to several numbered routes or a few places too close to be Zutphen.

The management had to devise a route on the go which is much less convenient than following the one properly planned in advance. Even so we arrived at our hotel before lunch and in good time for a swim and a walk.

This is the second hotel in Nederland to charge twice German prices for dinner and twice British out of London prices. Naturally we will eat elsewhere.

Day 49 29th August Zutphen to Doorwerth (Day ND 9)

We thought that from now on it would be flat and even said so in emails. We were certainly wrong today and while it was only 900 feet of climb that is a lot if one has become complacent. The management thought that all we had to do was to power the tandem up to 16km an hour and sit there and we did do this for about an hour.

For the first hour we cycled over and near the wide river Ijssel. As we left Zutphen and climbed over the long bridge out of town we met, coming the other way, a whole class of school children led by their teacher and going at a rate we would have been hard pressed to achieve. After a fairly energetic first hour we stopped in the sun and watched the river traffic and a local chain ferry.

Soon after this, just following the route we found ourselves in the Veluwezoom National Park. It was very like the New Forest and it and nearby parks form an area of around 50km by 25km. Unlike the New Forest it has many lovely paved cycle trails and we rode on these over hill and dale and through woods for the rest of the day.

It was pleasantly busy with cyclists, walkers and runners. It might frighten the New Forest verdurers if they saw how popular a National Park could be if a few facilities are provided which make it accessible and do not detract from its beauty.

By the time we reached the hotel to the west of Arnhem we had circumnavigated the forest. It is of WW2 fame and the film "A Bridge Too Far". The management was exhausted. Not only had he ridden unwisely but he had deviated into the flowering purple heather in the park on several occasions. He did not have enough waypoints for accurate off road navigation.

It had been yet another unusual and great ride. It was made all the better by being unexpected in the "flat" Nederlands.

Day 50 30th August Doorwerth to Driebergen (Day ND 10)

We had a fairly laid back ride today leaving before 10am and taking the urban roads rather than the lengthy forays into the country side. Most main roads with the exception of motorways have cycle paths beside them. They are safe and functional, rather like the main road route from Dorchester to Weymouth, but not pleasant and we used them at the start of the day.

We were following the route of the very large river called Nederrjn on our map. For some quite long stretches we were able to get very close to it. Sometimes we were on tiny paths and at others on a road on top of the dyke which marked the edge of the flood plain.

It was surprisingly like trying to follow the coast. The roads which were mainly busy took the best routes but every now and then it was possible to find a byway which used a route too narrow or too hilly for the main road.

Just before lunch we turned away from the broad river, it felt like making our way inland. For the first time we found ourselves in the kind of country we associate with Nederland. The land was completely flat and we were cycling beside deep channels of water six or seven metres wide.

Some of the time we were away from any habitation but when we came to farmhouses or villages the houses were on the other side of the water from the road with access gained by bridges. Houses often had rowing dinghies tied up under the bridges, some of traditional design.

After lunch at a fine picnic table the management took a nap in the sun undisturbed by the very occasional car which passed by. When the stoker finally persuaded him to get going it was only a few km before we found an icecream shop.

We ended the day with a lovely meal in the busy Balkan restaurant in Driebergen which we thoroughly recommend.

Day 51 31st August Driebergen to Kinderdijk (Day ND 11)

As we have taken to reassuring those who have read this far that we arrived in one piece we do so here. However the management does consider that he may have over extended himself today. As every fat over weight non cyclist from the UK knows, cycling in the low countries is the easiest kind of cycling. Today we can firmly demonstrate that this is not the case and it could easily have been much more difficult.

When we awoke and looked at the various weather sites they said that it may rain. In fact it was throwing it down and did so for most of the morning. Almost worse there were strong winds from the north west. In a straight line we were going just south of west. This would not have been too bad if we were not having to navigate the polders, canals, rivers and ditches which are on some kind of unpredictable grid system. The result was brief runs downwind followed by gut wrenching upwind sections which are far worse than any hill.

The management has very little experience of planning routes through polders and he had done this one at least three times. Even so, it was not long before we were foiled. An essential right turn went into a farm yard and stopped. This involved a significant replan through wet glasses and a soaking wet GPS screen. No way were we going to get the Transformer out in this weather and before any luddite mentions paper maps they usually disintegrate in this level of wet.

Back on course we had three very significant river crossings, one by ferry. We would tell you the names as we usually do but we are still confused about exactly how we did it. You can find out by looking at the routes and the photo pages.

By around lunchtime the rain stopped and the wind increased. We were on a very nice tow path and soon came across a conventional windmill. There were also lots of bridges with high counterbalances enabling the passage of very large ships.

We arrived late afternoon at our lovely self contained B and B right beside the wide and busy river Lek. We, like about a third of those in the Netherlands, were living well below river and sea level.

Day 52 1st September Day off at Kinderdijk (Day ND 12)

We had a lovely day exploring the UNESCO site of 19 windmills, all built around 1740. This is one of those unusual tourist attractions which should not be missed. It costs very little, is best explored by bike, has great visuals and is not crowded even on a nice day like today.

Day 53 2nd September Kinderdijk to Hazerswoude-Dorp (Day ND 13)

We left our pleasant B and B de Norde and headed north with views of the windmills between the houses. We caught the car ferry across the Lek river from Kinderdijk to Krimpen. All was very quiet on this Sunday morning in what seems to be a fairly religious community.

There was virtually no wind, the sky was grey but not leaden. Once out of Krimpen we were on tiny country roads and cycle tracks until we reached Gouda where fortunately no one offered us any cheese or even the contents of the holes. After all the holes might taste of something. The countryside around Gouda can best be described as mean. There are a few cows between the drainage channels and that is it.

However the countryside on this Sunday morning was far from deserted. There were road cyclists doing training runs, including large groups, recreational cyclists both electric and manual, walkers, dog walkers and horse riders. It was about now that the management felt glad he had planned an easy day. He was still suffering from the after effects of Friday's long ride.

As we neared Boscoop the surroundings became much more affluent. The drainage channels were like wide UK canals and houses and businesses were fitted in around them. While we saw no sign of bulb growing there were some very large horticultural businesses selling, but of course not on Sundays, everything from twigs to fully grown trees.

We had slight trepidations about tonight's hotel. reviews were mixed and we expected a Chinese restaurant with rooms above. It is in fact a very large modern hotel with an equally large Chinese restaurant on the ground floor. Our room is well up to modern standards and has air conditioning to keep out the smells.

This is our last hotel of the trip and all were booked via All the bookings have worked like clockwork and we will certainly use them for our next tour.

Day 54 3rd September Hazerswoude-Dorp to Amsterdam (Day ND 13)

Today is our last day on this side of the North Sea. Once we were out of town we were back on the cut for most of the day and we followed the waterways right into the centre of Amsterdam.

The stoker has become very concerned on the narrow roads beside water courses. Many of the bridges have no parapets or railings at all, enough to put DCC permanently on gardening leave. One slight loss of attention by the management could result in an embarrassing, dirty and wet tumble into the water. The management of course is not bothered, being supremely and perhaps unwisely confident of being able to keep dry.

As we neared Amsterdam the route became much busier than we had become used to. This causes a practical problem for the stoker. Nederland has a sparcity of public toilets. All the management needs is a large tree but the stoker is more demanding and finding a private place becomes less important as the need becomes more pressing.

As we got into central Amsterdam nothing had prepared us for the appalling behaviour of other cyclists. Unlike Copenhagen and Berlin there is a total lack of discipline or consideration for others. This is made worse by the lack of any proper routes. It was very tempting to take some of them out but we could have come off worse.

Following major road works without a signed diversion we did a couple of extra kms to find our digs for a couple of days.

Having thoroughly enjoyed our tour we would now like to give some awards. The most cycle friendly country is Germany by a street and a kilometre. The routes are good and well signed but more importantly the drivers, despite having the fastest cars, drive gently and carefully always complying with the priorities.

Denmark is next, the routes are not as good as in Germany but they are signed and the drivers are generally considerate. The Netherlands surprisingly comes third. There are many routes but it is difficult to find the way as they use a crazy node system. Crossing junctions can be difficult and motorists often ignore priorities and drive in cycle lanes. They have a long way to go to catch up with Germany.

The wooden spoon goes to the UK.

Since we arrived in the Netherlands we have been carrying out a straw poll survey on the number of electric bikes. It some places it was at least 50% of the bikes we saw. They are mainly the province of the older leisure riders so in the national parks they outnumbered manual 2 to 1. Younger people and utility riders still tend to use manuals but electric looks set to take the lead.