Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bike Travel in the Netherlands: Part 10

We’re back in Canada!  After a full month camping and riding, I’m happy to be home. 

I’m really glad we chose to go to the Netherlands.  We wanted a trip that would be relaxing and enjoyable rather than hard work, and it was perfect for that.  The whole country is flat and the cycling infrastructure is better than anything I’ve seen.  Campsites are abundant, so we were never worried that it would be too far to the next one if we wanted to ride just a bit farther.  Some really windy days and unpredictable weather made it a little more adventurous, but the only things that really brought us down (like my strange allergic reaction and kids going through our stuff) could have happened anywhere.  

Bottom line, if you like to ride your bike, or if you think you might like riding a bike, you should make a pilgrimage to the Netherlands.

Here’s what we did:

The Tour
- Distance pedaled: Just over 1000 km (about 620 miles)
- Days on the road: 31
- Kinds of transportation: bike, plane, ferry, bus, train. (The buses and trains just got us between the Vancouver airport and the Vancouver Island ferry.)
- Places we visited: Amsterdam, Texel, Leeuwarden, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Delft, Den Haag, and a whole lot of countryside in between 
- Places we loved: Amsterdam, Texel, Utrecht, and Delft
- Places we’d skip next time: Rotterdam and Den Haag
- Amount of gear we took: two rear Ortlieb panniers each, holding a total of 80 litres (for all 4 bags), plus our sleeping bags, which we kept in dry bags on top of our racks.  (We didn’t carry anything on the front of our bikes.)
- Flat tires: two (one for each of us)
- Trips to the emergency room: one (related to my allergic reaction, not anything to do with cycling)
- Number of collisions: one
- Traveler’s insurance? Yes, and I’m glad we had it.
- Number of knitting projects completed: five (socks, mitts, and three hats)

Most Valuable Gear
- Garmin Etrex 30 GPS
- Inflatable pillows from MEC
- Ranger bands (a common bush crafting supply that come in handy for a variety of different uses.  They’re just car tire inner tubes cut in strips and they end up being big rubber bands that can be used as bungees, clotheslines, and whatever else you can think of.)
- Soap in a tin
- Mini camp towels

Most Disappointing Gear
- Mountain Hard Wear Direkt 2 Tent - it leaked and had a horrible condensation problem
- REI inflatable sleep mat - the valve cracked so that it wouldn’t seal and all the air leaked out.  I’ve had this mat for several years, so maybe it had lived its life and was just old.

Lessons Learned 
- Take an independent way to charge electronics on tour.  Outlets were hard to find and babysitting the phone while it was plugged into a public outlet was boring and inconvenient.  I don’t know what the solution is, but next time I’ll make a different plan.
- Bike maintenance is vital.  My bike is accustomed to being stored indoors, so in order to avoid chain squeak and rust, we had to oil it more frequently than usual.  Also, paying attention to my tires meant we noticed that one of them was worn out and needed to be replaced before it blew out.
- Chocolate is a fantastic tool for staying happy, energized, and motivated, especially when it contains toffee.  I recommend regular chocolate breaks to anyone on tour.

So now that I’ve finished my bike adventure, what’s next?  My big announcement is that I’m working on a book!  I’m partnering with Interweave and it’s scheduled to be published in the fall of 2016.  I’ve set up my studio in our new apartment and this is where I’ll be parked, focusing on knitting and designing a whole lot of secret projects.  Here’s my inspirational yarn wall, created with two shoe racks and S hooks made out of wire.

I'll also be testing the designs I made for our bike tour over in my Ravelry group.  Right now, I'm accepting testers for my vest pattern, so if you'd like to knit with us, please check out the call for testers.

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