A Dutch couple on a tandem were climbing the L’Alpe d’Huez, with its 21 hairpin bends, and the stoker said “Blimey, that was really hard going…..such a steep climb”. “Just as well I kept the brake on”, said the captain “otherwise we would have gone backwards”
After a very hot, sticky night, I climbed up to the top deck of the boat to greet the sun, to enjoy the cool of the dawn, to discuss political shenanigans with an anti-BoJo Scot who had slept on the deck with his teenage son,
and to admire the view from our breakfast lounge.
For €18pp B&B, this was a rare deal indeed, and one to be savoured….
Browsing the forecast ahead of us, we had every reason to shy away from mounting the tandem, but it was only 24km to Amsterdam which, in normal conditions, is a mere pootle in the park, but when it’s in the mid-30s, it can be a trial by ordeal.
But why Double Dutch? Our English metaphor for gobbledegook…..well, to back up my Garmin routing, we switched on Mrs Google in my back pocket while we rode, and Jenny had to repeat everything I couldn’t hear clearly because of traffic noise, so that I knew where to go…..well, you can imagine the fun we had with the pronunciation of street and place names! The common factor was that most ended in ‘straat’….it was the bit that preceded ‘straat’ that caused the fun. Try this one, for example: Scheepstimmermanstraat…..see what I mean?
Anyway, we limped into Amsterdam, defeated by the heat and humidity, and had to forego a visit to the Resistance Museum because, ironically, our resistance had been defeated by the circumstances. What energy we had left was expended on a café terrace while waiting to meet our hosts for the evening…..(to be resumed…)….
Riding for the Edge.
Titles are meant to catch your attention, even if the rest of the piece is of questionable interest. But now that I have your attention……
I set off for my customary Monday morning ride and my phone rings.
-Frank, that Garmin Edge 1000 you were inquiring about….well, I’ve got it here. I can let you have it for £150. When would you like to pick it up?
I need a cycling GPS with mapping and navigation, and an Edge 1000 would normally retail at about £350. I’ve finally decided the simplicity of the breadcrumb trail on my Edge 200 is just not enough, especially when crossing urban areas with complicated networks of cycle paths.
I was about to head west for a couple of hours, but Hilton was in the opposite direction, about 25 miles east.
-Great. OK, change of plan, I’m heading out your way. I’ll be with you in about an hour and a half…….what’s your address?
When I get there, he invites me into his workshop. He’s a retired engineer who has built himself a cycle repair workshop in his garden, which satisfies two important needs: it generates a bit of income but, more importantly, it keeps him busy. He just loves fettling bikes…..and is a bike rider himself, who likes to head off with his wife on fully-supported bike rides in far-off countries. Almost a man after my own heart…….just forget the ‘fully-supported’ bit.
I get home with the Edge 1000 and begin sifting through the User’s Manual online…….it’s infinitely more complicated than my old Edge 200………..sigh!
It is tempting to hook up with the current enthusiasm (amongst some cyclists) for GPS. Download your route, charge up the battery and mount it on the bar stem. However, when I hear whispers about batteries running flat, or the mere fact that you should never rely entirely on GPS (in other words, carry a set of maps as well!) I am easily dissuaded.
When it comes to maps for long journeys, I hesitate both about the extra luggage and the expense. Maps at a scale useful to cyclists don’t come cheaply, and when you are crossing whole countries, you need quite a few. My solution for my Land’s End-John O’Groats in 2008, was to buy a £1-99 road atlas of Britain from a service station, at a scale of 1: 190,000 (3 miles to the inch) and tear out the relevant pages. As each page was completed, it was consigned to the recycle bin. No temptation, therefore, to parcel up used maps and send them home for keepsake. The other great advantage of using map pages was that they could be folded up small to fit the maptrap, and this meant no stopping en route to unfold and consult large maps. Very handy indeed!
I was delighted to discover the Michelin Road Atlas series at a scale of 1:200,000 (2kms to 1 cm). The France version will see me safely across Switzerland as well. The atlases for France and Italy have cost me a total of £17 and, at the risk of people crying “foul!”, I will tear out the pages I need (about 20 in total) and leave the rest at home.
I have done the same with guide books in the past, tearing out the relevant pages for an area and leaving the bulky bit behind. I know some of you might report me to the Royal Society for the Protection of Books (RSPB), but it does save a lot of weight and bulk. Try it next time. You’ll find if you do it once, it gets easier and easier ;0)
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