Monday, April 16, 2012

Last Trip Before the Trip

With only two and half weeks left to go before we leave, we took our touring bikes out for one last spin. This time, we headed west towards Den Haag to spend the weekend with our friends Adeline and Edgar. We kicked off the weekend with Ad and Ed's annual joint birthday party in the city centre. After a relaxed morning and a trip to the grocery store for some lunch supplies, the of us headed off fora day of cycling. It was a chilly day, but sunny and wonderful for cycling.
We rode north through forests, past enormous estates, through dunes and along the coast, stopping for a late lunch.

(no we didn't all plan to wear red!)
We continued along to Noordwijk, heading inland towards the famous tulips fields, which we were determined not to miss this year!

At some point one of us spotted "Aardbeien", so stopped to indulge in some heavenly early local strawberries.

As the sun started to set, we rode the last few kilometres back to our friends' place.

Tired, but rejuvenated by an amazing day of cycling, we sat down to very well-earned meal of Chinese take-away. A few of us (not mentioning any names), gobbled down numerous plates, attempting to satiate a cycler's appetite and simultaneously carb load for Rotterdam Marathon 10km race the following day.
The next morning, we work up early and joined the masses of people for the race. Despite having forgotten to register, we managed to get to the start line and run the entire race, including running through the finish line, without getting noticed. We even got participant medals, which we attempted to avoid but essentially got lassoed around our necks by eager and friendly volunteers! After a very cold trip back to Den Haag and hot showers, we headed back to Utrecht, tired but content after a very fun and active weekend!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cleaning and Organising

No, it's not really the most exciting or glamourous of activities that one associates with planning a bike touring trip...But, with only three (!) weeks left to go before our trip, we figured that we should at least start getting our apartment ready for subletters. So, closets and cupboards got emptied, winter clothes got boxed away and the kitchen got a pretty good scrub. Since we're still here for three weeks, we'll need to do this again in our last week, but it was a good start!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Test Pack

This past weekend we set out with the goal of trying out our bikes fully loaded, including a night of camping. We set off from Utrecht around 5pm and rode west towards Amersfoort along bike paths, through countryside and forests, reaching a campsite two hours later just before dark.

We had called the campsite the day before to check to see if they were open. The man who answered the phone had been a bit abrupt and had said that there were a bunch of Brits staying at the site and that we might not want to stay there. I finally convinced the man that we didn't really care as long as there was room for a tent. Upon arriving at the site, we figured out what the man had meant - the campsite was full of British temporary workers and their families. We were given a tiny scrap of grass between all of the caravans and trailers on which to pitch a tent. We definitely attracted the attention of a few of the worker's kids who were curious about why we were sleeping in the tent and how it was that we got there by bicycle.

Despite the less than idyllic surroundings, our trial camping night with our new equipment went off without a hitch. The night felt a lot less cold than we thought it would be and our equipment setup seemed to work well.

The next day we set off around 10am, cycling 95km towards Zwolle into the wind and drizzle. It wasn't exactly the most pleasant of rides, but it definitely gave us good impression about riding fully loaded bikes! We finally arrived at our friends Eliska and Francois's apartment in Zwolle in the evening. We had a lot of fun that evening, chatting until the wee hours of the morning! Surprising after a long day of cycling! The next morning we woke up late, had a leisurely breakfast and took the train back to Utrecht. Overall a good test!