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Day 9 off to the ferry

Updated: Jun 7

You know things must be improving when I want to complain about coffee.

I was going to start today's blog with a small rant about coffee or more precisely the absolutely dreadful quality of the coffee in every place I've stayed. But then as I sat having my first proper coffee of the trip in Gorinchem, I checked the news for stories on the flooding in Germany. The fact that at least four people have died and thousands of others have had their homes flooded is pretty sobering and a good reminder that my holiday being ruined by the weather is inconsequential. The more I've thought about it, the more I'm thinking it was probably irresponsible of me to be out in that weather given the fact that the emergency services had their hands full and peoples' lives were affected. The news stopped me feeling any lingering sympathy for myself.

To underline the more upbeat start to the day the weather was warm if overcast and five minutes into my ride I came across a beautiful old windmill next to a canal - you can't get more Dutch can you?

Just as it was yesterday, today’s ride was full of dedicated bike paths winding their way through pretty villages and towns. I only had 80km to do today and 10 hours to do it in, so I took my time, peddling slowly and stopped three times to eat and drink and take in some views. At the risk of repeating myself, the cycling infrastructure here it’s just fantastic. The only times I have gone off route in almost the entire trip have been when the cycling infrastructure was unexpected. Or more accurately I just didn’t expect the cycling infrastructure to exist. Things like mini roundabouts with cycling priority or small purpose built underpasses so that you can switch from one side of the road to the other,  kept catching me out as I was expecting to have to go back on the road and mingle with the traffic. Tomorrow morning it’s likely I will have had at least one close pass before I get out of Harwich, or even just at the car park at the port. One of the great things about this cycling infrastructure is that you can relax more and enjoy the ride. Even more so on a day like today when the profile was absolutely flat as a pancake. One last comment and then I’ll let it go, but since leaving Dusseldorf and arriving at the ferry port here I covered just over 300 km and I can barely remember riding on a single road with significant for more than 30 seconds. Imagine, that's the equivalent of riding from London to Manchester on dedicated cycle lanes. Of course that actually would’ve been possible if they haven’t removed the funding for adding a cycleway next to HS2.

Breaking my journey into three parts and having a significant Café stop each time really did make it feel like a leisurely holiday ride. Today’s ride included lots of time on single track roads built on the top of Dykes with pretty houses on either side. It seems weird to see the houses effectively built either side of a 5 to 10 meter raised road, but I guess that’s what you get when you build a significant lump of your country by reclaiming land from the sea. It does mean there are also large number of houses with their own moats. Again, I had to resist the temptation to keep filming the better looking houses less my wife thinks I’m on some sort of campaign to emmigrate.

At one point I got passed by what looked like two classes of kids out on a school trip all on bikes riding with their teachers. You may think you look cool on the bike, but you’ll never be as cool as a Dutch teenager riding no handed with their phone out chatting and laughing with their mates, three or four abreast. Simply imagine any school trip in the UK involving a teacher cycling to somewhere with kids.

I slightly miscalculated the length of the ride, not that it mattered and I should’ve noticed beforehand, but the ferry port of the Hook of Holland is actually 30km away from Rotterdam even though people talk about getting the ferry to Rotterdam. So, I ended up riding 90 km.

And yet, I still arrived at the ferry port four hours early, so I sat writing this blog reading messages from friends and family at home and doomscrolling social media.

Once I had checked in for the ferry, the port staff encouraged all the cyclists to go to the front of the queue to get onto the boat before the cars. While in the queue I got chatting to a German, who at 70 years old was doing what he described as his 'last big tour' a six week ride around the whole of the British Isles. He had been born in East Berlin and obviously seen an enormous amount of change in his life and so was really interesting to talk to. He also confirmed for me the theory I was chatting about yesterday. The electric bike has given him a new lease of life and allowed him to ride further. Although the cheeky git suggested that I should get one within the next couple of years. We engaged in a little bit of cycling Top Trumps which he won because his longest Tour was 6500 km across the whole of Europe and the whole of Russia. He had also flown to Tehran and ridden home from there. That puts my version of riding the long way home to shame doesn’t it? By the way, he also said that lots of Germans have trouble understanding Austrians, so it wasn’t just me.

My final thought for the night is that I am grateful I booked a cabin on the ferry home, not least because it’s an overnight ferry and I want to get some sleep. But the real win was that the shower was amazing.

By the time most of you read this, I will have already docked at Harwich and started my ride to Cambridge. I decided today to book the accommodation to take away the temptation to catch a train and not ride home. I've still got time on my hands so I may as well do it.

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6 comentarios

What an adventure you’re having, appreciate there was some adversity and discouraging days but even those you’ll be able to look back on and laugh, you’re out there doing it and that’s the main thing 😀

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lol yes probably too soon !

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Another great day, so proud of the approach you’re taking the week before. Putting things into context is great.

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I absolutely love that overnight ferry - don’t tell others about it too much, though, or no one will ever go from Dover again … and it will be overrun.

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I think your secret is safe. There's not many people reading this 😄

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