This series is about the successful attempt of doing the Ronde van Nederland in four days, in total of 1300 km on a bike.
The first 20-25 kilometers didn’t bring anything new, I had done that route plenty of times before, I did it on the test day too as part of my preparation. I divided the day into 3 stages. 1. From our house to Roermond. 2. From Roermond to Arnhem. 3. From Arnhem to Geesteren, where I spent the first night. To Roermond I wasn’t too lucky as for the weather, not like I had huge expectations, I got rained on like the forecast predicted, a lot of wind from the front and the side too.
The excitement created by the preparation immediately turned into a worrying heavy feeling. If the weather had been the same on Day 3 and Day 4, I probably would have taken a train home. But since at that time I was still feeling fit and enthusiastic I just accepted the fact and kept going. On the way to Roermond there was not much to see, but on the bank of a tributary of the river Maas, traces of “lumberjack” activity of a bigger beaver population caught my eyes.
Of course I had seen on National Geographic what an enormous work these animals could do, but I never would have thought they could easily chew around a 1-meter diameter tree trunk til it fell. I took a little time there I made a couple of photos, then I kept going. By the way, I saw some promising sun rays from among the clouds there for the first time that day and it had a really positive effect on my mood.
I just hit Roermond then the route continued along the river Maas to the North. It was absolutely good news to me turning the side-face wind into side-back wind. By that time the rain had stopped too, the sun came out and the strong wind bothered me less and less having it blowing from the right direction. Maybe that was the point when I was starting to feel that the adventure was about to begin.
The next bigger city was Venlo, I was just gliding through, sometimes I even used the 50T-14T too, but I didn’t stop I thought I could save some extra time for myself. And indeed I did, I used that time right before Broekhuizen, I sat down on the river bank to have lunch. Lunch means a tin of sardine and 3 pieces of extruded bread and an energy bar. I wasn’t really hungry, luckily I wasn’t feeling hungry during the whole tour, thanks to the home made flapjacks (cereal bar), which I had to every 30 minutes whether I needed it or not. I ate in a rush, because I wasn’t feeling all great with the strong wind in 6-7 oC on the river bank, the sunshine couldn’t help it. Of course it is a “User Error”, I mean you shouldn’t sit on the river bank where there is no wind shadow, I know.
Moving on I saw a lot of different farms on the way, smaller villages and I passed by the Hertog Jan brewery, my favorite local beer (not because of the name similarity). That day, altogether I had to take ferries 5 times to cross rivers, I crossed Maas 4 times and Rhine once. The first 4 was on schedule, there was no problem at all, nothing but the best ferries, some of them were totally automatic. My jaw hit the floor, when right after leaving the captain came down to where the cars were parked and started to take the fee from the passengers. Well, welcome to the 21st century, I had never seen anything like this before.
Taking the ferry is pretty cool, and cheap too, I paid €0,70 each time. The one ferry ride before the last one was the funniest because it was a ship that was to transport only people and bikes. Soon as the captain spotted me from the other side, he steered the ship to my direction. We waited a little there might have been people wanting to cross the river so we had a bit of time to talk.
I found out, that day I was the very first person he could take on his ferry (it was about 1 PM then). This fact made him incredibly happy, the only explanation I could find for this, that probably he was extremely dedicated to transporting people by ferry, I mean I’m sure it wasn’t the €1 fee that put that wide smile on his face, that couldn’t have been the reason that he lit up like that. It was quite an experience.
I continued my trip on the mainland. The next surprise got me near Riethorst as the GPS was leading me to a slope! My eyes weren’t used to this anymore, it made me so happy that I had to take a picture of it 🙂 Turned out it was only the beginning, I had a real roller coaster like ride all the way to Nijmegen. I pedaled through the city, I didn’t want to waste any time, knowing I still had a massive 100 kilometers more to go. The route continued along the river Waal towards the German border, where I was going to take a ferry for the last time on the trip.
Some heavy shower was about to break off when I arrived to the port, where I sadly realized that there was no ferry on either sides. There was nothing I could do, so I found shelter at a bus stop from the rain and I started to search on the Internet. Soon I stumbled upon a schedule, the last ferry left at 5 PM, the time was 6 PM then. Well yea, I messed up. Then I started thinking what to do how to go on. If I went back to Nijmegen and crossed the river there and continued my tour on the planned route, then a lovely 40-kilometer extra would be added to my distance / day, I really didn’t feel like it.
The other option was to keep going along the river to Germany, where there was a bridge at Emmerich am Rhein. I went with this option eventually. On the plus side I made this tour international. There was no way from there I could continue on the route that was planned, so this solution seemed the best, heading straight for the accommodation. At around 8:45 PM I arrived where my host was waiting for me with a hot meal and cold beer, what a relief it was. I did Day 1, according the GPS the distance I went was 299 km, according to the Strava this distance was longer, 310 km that day. I was happy I made it through Day 1, I thought I could do it and I was hoping the weather would be better the next days.
For Day 2 the destination was a little village called Moddergat in Firesland, which officially was 336 kilometers away. To be continued, til then you can read the prequel posts!