50km away was our next stop Venlo and we were on a pretty good run when we came across a windmill. But it wasn’t the windmill that stopped us, it was the albino emu.
With storms chasing us across the map, we decided to try and outrace the weather, stopping only for one night in the smaller towns. We wanted to join up with EuroVelo 4 or 6, crossing into Germany and following the Rhine. It was the first time the bike paths turned to dirt, winding through forests, horse trails and fields.
Our devices for our trip: Samsung galaxy s tab 8.4 (one of two) & Sony Experia Z3 Compact (Mine, Suyin has a IPhone 4s) We already owned two fantastic tablets and smart phones so we wanted to avoid spending extra money on a dedicated GPS unit or a trip computer (a.k.a nav man for a bike). Smart devices have so many apps and options now, so we decided to try our luck with free apps and location services built into these. So how do we navigate?
Starting at 7am as it was going to be a big day of riding we loaded up the bikes in the chilly rain. We were heading for Breda the next big town on the map and it was going to be our longest kms yet: 66km. We should have added another number 6 to that as every km totally sucked. The bike paths followed farming paddocks and field lines and the wind and rain came howling straight across them with no shelter or protection. For 6 hours (yup another 6) battling headwinds and crosswinds the bikes were reduced to a crawl with every rotation of the pedal a huge exhausting effort. The hours crawled by and we could do nothing but put our heads down and get through, soaked to the bone and freezing.
The Cube Houses: The Overblaak Development was designed by Piet Blom. Each cube, tilted on a 45° degree angle, was built to resemble a tree and together they represent a forest.
Day two exploring The Hague we set off to visit the M.C Escher museum, mathematical masterpieces of optical illusion, just down the road. Being a rainy day we were quite happy with the short walk until I discovered that just a mere 4kms further down the road was the largest private collection of automobiles in the world open to the public, The Louwman Museum. Plans suddenly changed.
We reached The Hague really quickly the next day, and with time on our side we cycled out to the nearest campsite: Camping Duinhorst which was 5km from the center of the city. Unfortunately the whole place was closed until the 1st of April. Taking the hint now we decided to give up camping for a week and take it easy at a budget chain hotel, picking Easy Hotel out from a free Hague city guide. Right in the heart of the city, with free and fast WiFi it was great!
This day was going to be a riding day only. We picked Leiden as the halfway point to The Hague which gave us about 50km, the longest ride we’ve had so far. We packed up in the rain, stuffing a very wet tent into its bag. Getting out of Amsterdam’s concentric circles was surprisingly easy, and the bike path soon led us through very pretty suburbs with long canals that the houses sat right against.
After spending the night shivering and realising we had grossly underestimated the cold, we decided to go hunting for warmer clothes. Looking out from our tent the sky was completely overcast with drizzly rain. But rain at least was one thing we had prepared for! Pulling on sealskin socks, rainpants and jackets we headed out to the center of the city. For the next two days we took a meandering route through gritty gorgeous Amsterdam, full of canals, architecture, and of course bikes.
After spending over 20 hours on two planes plus a 3 hour stop over in Dubai we were running on adrenanlin only. And so began a comedy of errors. After arriving at Amsterdam airport Schipol, and retrieving our bikes from Oversize Luggage pick up we dragged everything underneath an escalator to set up shop.