Posts Tagged ‘Netherlands’


The cycle trip to the North Cape is now over, and the post cycle pleasure is just starting. I have put together the first of three videos on my cycle trip. This video is on the leg of the trip from Eindhoven to Tallinn. I hope you like the video. It was fun putting it together! 🙂


A cycle trip like the good old days with Ed – singing as we go. Sun, blue skies, strawberries, Rhein River in flood, motor bike cafe Schnitzel, everyone friendly. Ideal start to my cycle trip.

Day 1. 166km. Eindhoven -Sythen. Map and gpx

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Contrary to yesterday, today was a day of burning through the kimometres (and the müsli bars). Blown by a gale tail wind, I scooted through Belgium and out the other end to Breda to take a night train back to Eindhoven. A final 7 km in Eindhoven saw me break my day record of 301 km.

I left the hotel shortly before 7 out into the cloudy, blustery morning. Maybe not ideal weather for sunbathing, but, perfect for cycling. You don’t sweat much, you don’t need much to drink, and you can go like (with) the wind. Learning from my last cycle to Calais, I avoided the coast. The area around Dunkirk is horrible for cycling, and I took a detour inland to my favourite place from last time – Licques – a cute little village nestled in a steep valley behind Calais.

From there I was bound east. And the wind was… also heading east. A match made in heaven. I have never had this. I look on the map – I need to head there. And then, next time I look, I am already there. Next place. Before I know it I’m there. After 70 odd kilometres, I found myself in Cassel – a village perched on the top of an unlikely hill in a fairly flat landscape. Some wares from the patisserie – and then a refill. I was hungry, and my appetite today was eternal.

Then, hello Belgium.

Hello Belgium

Hello Belgium

The morning was punctuated by stopping in market squares – ah yes, another cute little town hall.. 🙂

Poperinge

Poperinge

Tielt

Tielt

As time went on, I realized that today was not just going to see me enter well into Belgium to catch a train home. I could get much further. For a while I entertained the possibility to cycle all the way home to Eindhoven. When I finally zoomed out on the map to see all of Belgium when I was in Gent, I realized the impossibility of this – it would be about 350 km. Still, a day record (301 km+), and reaching the Netherlands was still in reach. But it would take a concerted effort. And minimizing stops.

On I went. No rain. But some serious looking clouds. It must have rained everywhere except over me.

No rain.

No rain.

Into Gent. Central square. Tick. Lovely buildings. Tick.

Gent

Gent

Out of Gent. More direct roads. Straight line with the wind. Speed speed speed. I arrived in Lokeren hungry and with not much water. Pizza. Quick and an energy boost. Then on. St. Niklaas, and through some suburbs of Antwerpen. How do I cross the harbour? Explored. Tunnel closed to bikes. How do I cross? Ask. Of course. The pedestrian tunnel (!). Cool.

Pedestrian tunnel in Antwerp

Pedestrian tunnel in Antwerp

It was 20:30 and getting distinctly dim. I didn’t know how far it was to Breda in the Netherlands, but, I had to be there by 23:21 to catch the last train. The road was dead straight. I could do it. Or die trying. Suburbs of Antwerp. More suburbs. Then forest. Then Wuustwezel. Then the border.

Entering the Netherlands

Entering the Netherlands

On and on. The train station was on the other side of Breda. Still, there was no traffic and I had some time up my sleeve. Just as I arrived at the Breda train station, the rain started – for the first time for me. And I was presented with a stairway to heaven – with a super heavy bike and 295 km in the legs.

Stairway to heaven

Stairway to heaven

Goal reached with 20 minutes to spare.

Breda

Breda

And then, some would say, the ultimate madness. Others understand. I cycled 7 km around Eindhoven in the rain at midnight to get my day total to 302 km – breaking the record I held with Ed when we cycled from Delft to Den Helder and back in a day. Then I could go to bed satisfied.

Day record

Day record


What was originally going to be a continuation from last week’s cycle from Givet to Paris was thrown on its head when a friend from Brussels invited me over. I calculated, Paris should still be reachable with the first night in Brussels. The second and third days would be long, but the wind was blowing in the right direction, and I was motivated.

I needed a route to get me to Paris. I pasted one together using the bike node system in Flanders in Belgium,  a route I found from Brussels to Mons along a canal, and bits of eurovelo 3 that supposedly went to Paris and further. I threw the gear into the paniers and I was all set. This what I ended up cycling.

Eindhoven - Paris by bike

Eindhoven – Paris by bike

Day 1


Link to interactive map and gpx.

It’s always lovely cycling in the early morning along the canals in Belgium. A layer of mist hangs low over the water, steaming up into the skies. Birds chirp and the occasional one plops into the water out of my sight as I pass. The air was fresh – well, cold. I cycled fast to get the blood flowing, warm gloves on to slow down the freezing of my hands.

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Mother nature wanted me to get to Brussels quickly. I was blown down those canals and across those fields. It was wonderful. And the roads were quiet taking me through nature.

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I am rarely in this situation. I am going to get to my destination way ahead of time. The winds were too strong. 😉 Time to do the tourist rounds of Brussels before meeting with Kevin.

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Somewhat of a rarity on my bike trips, I finished around 5, but was in Brussels at 4. I could have a relaxing evening. We went for a nice dinner at a thai restaurant and had a chat. All ready and rested for the early start. Day 2 and 3 would have to be big to reach Paris!


Weekend cycles are good to get ready (mentally and physically) for my 2 month cycle to the North Cape in 6 weeks. This weekend I left my home in Eindhoven, touched French soil (in Givet), and returned to Namur in Belgium to catch the train home.

Eindhoven – Givet – Namur. Info and gpx download on EveryTrail

Flat and curvy is better than up and down, and up and down. This trip I followed the Maas River (which is flat and curvy), starting with passing through my favourite forest, then cycling along my favourite canal – a canal following the Maas on the Belgian side of the border.

Leendebos

Leendebos

The view over the canal following the Dutch - Belgian border

The view over the canal following the Dutch – Belgian border

Lovely island in the canal.

Lovely island in the canal.

I had chosen to cycle south as the wind was blowing that way. When I have no concrete destination in mind – cycle where the wind blows. I will have enough headwinds cycling to the North Cape.

After Maastricht (well, skirting around it), I entered new territory. Castles, fields and a beautiful river – the Maas (Meuse).

Border post

Border post

Castle at the Dutch-Belgian border

Castle at the Dutch-Belgian border

Meuse at Liege

Meuse at Liege

When the road was nice, it was very nice – bike paths and no cars. In Belgium (Wallonie), the cycle network is not connected. So.. When it was not nice, it was not nice. Busy roads, loud. Not fun.

I had booked a room in a castle in Huy – between Liege and Maastricht on the Maas. It was a lovely castle with friendly, helpful staff. They gave me a great tip for a cycle route the next day. And, it had an interesting view – looking out over the nuclear reactor on the other side of the street.

Domaine Du Chateau de la Neuville

Domaine Du Chateau de la Neuville

Bedroom with my bike

Bedroom with my bike

Lovely view

Lovely view

In Wallonie (the french speaking part of Belgium), they have the RAVeL network (Reseau Autonome des Voies Lents) – ravel.wallonie.be. These are separate bike roads, no cars in sight (usually), passing leisurely through the countryside. I first discovered these when I crossed the border into Belgium (there was a big sign explaining the system). In Huy, I was suggested to go on the Ligne 126 to Ciney. This followed an old train track, passing up a beautiful valley, through forests, and through a high area above the valley. And, as it followed an old train line, it was not steep. And it was empty. Beautiful.

Abandoned train station on Ligne 126

Abandoned train station on Ligne 126

Fields

Fields

Reaching the end of the path, I had to make my way uphill and down dale to the Meuse. The landscape away from the Meuse is undulating, and then a sudden steep drop to the river. Fun to cycle down, but once you’re down, its hard to leave the valley. The steep sides of the Meuse River made for some lovely cycling. I passed vertical rockfaces covered with rock climbers. Looked like fun.

Vertical cliffs on the Meuse

Vertical cliffs on the Meuse

Vertical cliffs on the Meuse

Vertical cliffs on the Meuse

View from above.

View from above.

Dinant

Dinant

The goal of the trip was to step over into France. I did.

France

France

And then cycled back to Namur to catch the train.

I learned some stuff about my equipment, remembered stuff I learned cycling in Norway last year, and remembered how important it is to cycle along a scenic road, with little traffic, and a good surface. On this trip I discovered that:

  • My phone backup batteries can discharge if something is pressing on them in the bag – at least that is my theory why they were both discharged on the last day.
  • Just like following the curves of a fjord in Norway, following the curves of the Maas River is better than taking a ‘short cut’. I learned in Norway to get mentally prepared for all places where the road deviated from the coast. Last weekend I learned that the Maas River has steep banks.
  • Unfortunately, longish stretches of cobblestones in the RAVeL network made the busy road that I was avoiding seem appealing. But then, lots of roadworks on the RAVeL routes forced me to take the main roads, after which I dreamed of hitting the cobblestones again.

The spring is here and my new bike needs to be put to the test before setting out for the North Cape in June. What better way than to return to familiar territory, visit some friends, and pass through what should be tulip territory. Last weekend I cycled 320 km from Eindhoven to Den Helder via Den Haag (The Hague).

In the early and fresh (i.e. cold) Saturday morning hours, I passed through fields, along canals and through forests, almost entirely on cycle paths far away from cars and other disturbances. The birds were chirping – something I have missed in the long colder winter that is now ending. Leaving with the conviction of warm weather (which was predicted for Sunday), it took time before I decided that, yes, may hands really were freezing off, and I really should wear my toasty warm gloves that I had bought for the North Cape. The fields were ploughed, the trees still bare, and waiting in great expectation for the burst of green.

Ploughed field

Ploughed field

Bare trees waiting

Bare trees waiting

As the day continued, the sun started to break through the clouds, but the (head) wind did not drop. I passed wide polders, along dikes, and lots of typical dutch houses and windmills.

Dutch polder and house

Dutch polder and house

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I avoided Rotterdam by passing to the south of it, along a thin peninsula of land, with a view to the industrial area to the north. The wind was causing me to burn extra calories, but the sun was well and truly out.

And then I passed through Delft, the town where I lived when I first came to Holland exactly 20 years ago!

Oude Kerk, Delft

Oude Kerk, Delft

Nieuwe Kerk, Delft

Nieuwe Kerk, Delft

After a lovely evening catching up with my friends in Den Haag, I continued my trip turning northwards, this time with a strong tail wind. Up through the dunes following the coast. There is nothing better than hurtling through the dunes at 40 km/h with the wind at your back.

Unfortunately, the tulips were not out – only the first of the daffodils. It has been too cold for the flowers to dare rise from the soil.

Cafe in the dunes

Cafe in the dunes

The first of the daffodils

The first of the daffodils

Watch out for wild roosters

Watch out for wild roosters

Company in the dunes

Company in the dunes

Cycling through the dunes

Cycling through the dunes

Daffodils from the dike

Daffodils from the dike

Arrival in Den Helder

Arrival in Den Helder

By the end of the trip it was quite warm – about 20C. A real summer feeling as I rode back in the train. Lovely to see all the bikes packed into the train. Back at home where cycling is loved, and there is amazing infrastructure for it!


In 2013 I will be cycling from Eindhoven in the Netherlands to the North Cape via the Baltic countries. I have been putting together a planned cycle route from different sources on the internet, generating a gpx file of the route.

After speaking to a Polish guy, writing on some Polish cycle blogs, and doing some more internet research, I have decided to change my route through Poland to follow the coast, and pass through Gdansk.

Here is my new route.

To reach the coast Baltic Sea coast in Poland, I also changed my route through Germany, using a cool bike route finder called Naviki.
18.11.2012: I updated the German route following recommendations by a German cycling forum.

My route through Poland now follows the EuroVelo 10 path, passes down an amazing looking sand peninsula to a place called Hel, and passes through Gdansk.


Thanks to Pawel for inspiring me to cycle along the coast, and to check out the Polish cycling forums. And thanks to all the people on the cycling forum that helped me out.

The new Polish route is a concatination of routes obtained from bikemap.net. The main one was the EuroVelo R10 route.


Probably the last warm weather weekend of the year had to be taken advantage of. A bike trip in the autumn orange light, through forests of bright red and yellow leaved trees, their colours raining on me down as I cycled past. A 315 km trip from Eindhoven to Münster in Germany.

The plan was to cycle with Volker (who joined me on some of my cycle trip in Norway this summer) from his parent’s house in Rheine to Münster: the bicycle Mecca of Germany. On Saturday I put my head down and aimed at maximum kilometres in order to amble to Rheine on Sunday by noon, and then to Münster on Sunday afternoon.

I left Eindhoven on Saturday at 06:30 in the dark and headed north east. It was an overcast day as I cycled through the cow studded fields, and through the bright red forests with the trees shedding their leaves.

The bright red of the autumn forests

The bright red of the autumn forests


Enschede in the Netherlands was my distant destination, and I made it just before nightfall at 1830.

But Sunday was the gem of the trip. Starting misty, the autumn day turned sunny, warm and perfect. The mid afternoon light made highlighted beautiful contrasts in the forest and river surroundings. As the afternoon turned into evening, and the light softened to its mellow departure, the colours became rich and orange. What a lovely light to experience this beautiful nature.

Me near the Ems River

Me near the Ems River

The Ems River

The Ems River

The Ems River

The Ems River

Orange tree in the mellow late afternoon light

Orange tree in the mellow late afternoon light

Cycling in the soft evening ilght

Cycling in the soft evening ilght

Münster

Münster


Planning (at least the first draft of) the exact cycle route is an important part of the overall planning of a long distance cycle trip. Just ‘following your nose’ leads you to main, busy roads. Insider secrets remain secrets.

In the summer of 2013 I intend to cycle from where I live in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, to the North Cape, via the Baltic Countries. I have put together a planned route which is made up of documented biking routes, collected from a range of different sources. I have collected this route in gpx format which can be viewed on my iPhone.

Here, I would like to list the biking route sources, and how to concatenate such routes to the ‘mother plan’ route.

Sources of the cycle route

Netherlands

The Netherlands has a great infrastructure for cycling. There is a dense network of signed bike paths that connect numbered ‘nodes’ throughout the country. Each node is between 1 and 10 km apart, and from each node, there are signposted routes to each of the neighbouring nodes. There is a bike route planning website which calculates suggested routes between any nodes that you specify. I used this to calculate a route from my house to the start of the German section of the R1 bike path which I will follow most of the way to Tallinn in Estonia.

Germany

I generated the route crossing Germany using the cool bike route planner Naviki. Many thanks to Oskar from the Polish cycling forum for his tips for Mecklenburg Vorpommern.

This route replaced my original route following the R1 bike path
– a long distance bike path from Bolougne in France to St. Petersburg in Russia. The German leg of this bike path (along with a huge number of cycle paths across Europe) is available in gpx format on the Lonvia ‘bike overlay’ to the OpenStreetMap open source map project. Simply scroll to the area of interest and click on ‘Routen’ to see a list of the paths displayed on the map. A gpx file can be downloaded for each of these maps.

Poland, Kalingrad, Lithuania

In Poland I will follow the EuroVelo 10 bike path. I found the route for this on bikemap.net. Many thanks to Pawel and the people on the Polish cycling forum for helping me out here.

After following the coast to Gdansk, I will make my way to the R1 cycle route which can be downloaded from the Lonvia bike overlay as described in the German section. The Polish section is not completely covered, though. I used the gpx files which are from Detlef Kaden. This book/CD combination is excellent, giving route information, as well as info on things to see, accommodation, and visa information for the Kalingrad Russian enclave.

Latvia

For Latvia, I used a combination of gpx files from Detlef Kaden (see Poland section), as well as cycling routes from the Lonvia OpenStreetMap overlay (see the German section). See the section below on how the information from these two sources was concatenated.

Estonia

For Estonia, I used routes from the Lonvia OpenStreetMap overlay (see the German section).

Finland

Eurovelo is a planned network of long distance cycle paths crossing from one side of Europe to the other. There are 14 planned routes, which are shown here. The routes are in different levels of completion. For most routes, there is no information available at all. For the Finnish sections, there is detailed information given in the form of google maps. I downloaded these routes and converted them into gpx to add to my overall route. (I describe this conversion below.)

Sweden

The Swedish leg is part of the ‘CykelspÃ¥ret längs ostkusten’. The gpx files for this can be downloaded here. These gpx files outline a path up the coast. When the coast is left at the top of the Baltic sea, there as so few roads, I figured that no special attention needs to be paid to look for small cycling roads. I used google maps to create the paths from here up to the Norwegian border. (Converting google maps to gpx is described below.)

Norway

In Norway I will follow the ‘Sun route’ as described in the Lonvia overlay for OpenStreetMap (see German section).

Converting and merging gpx files

When cycling, I use EveryTrail to track my trip, as well as to follow the planned route. EveryTrail uses gpx files.

To create the ‘mother’ route, stored in gpx file format, I concatenated individual gpx files. This concatenation is described here.

Here is an instruction video of how to convert google maps (kml) files to gpx file.

Sometimes I only wanted a piece of the path contained in a gpx file. I did the editing by hand, joining two gpx files at the correct place by matching the latitude and longitude coordinates to find where the paths cross.

Eindhoven Marathon 2012

Posted: October 14, 2012 in Running
Tags: , , ,

The marathon is a 42 km mind game. After 35 km, when the carbohydrates in the body are gone, the body is screaming out to stop. And you need to go on. You have come this far. This happens every time. The end is murder. And the finish line is sweet.

Route of the Eindhoven Marathon

Route of the Eindhoven Marathon

I enrolled for the Eindhoven marathon at the start of the year when it was far away on a distant horizon. My training was a bit patchy. I went on lots of very long runs on the weekends (between 25 and 37km), but didn’t do enough basis training during the week. I hardly ran at all in the last two weeks, pausing to let some back pain get better. I had a bit of a stomach bug for the last few days, too. So: for the first time I went to run in the marathon without expecting to run under 4 hours. I would run at the speed that felt right. I was prepared to stop if it was clear that the stomach bug hadn’t gone. This lack of self-imposed stress meant that I slept well. The weather was fantastic for a marathon: 13C and cloudy. The stage was set.

The famous lumberjack jacket as my mascot.

The famous lumberjack jacket as my mascot.

Before the start.

Before the start.

km 4: The start was not crowded and I had the space to run at my speed. I soon found it to be 5:46 per km. Fine. I passed a building with the temperature indicated. 11C. And it was cloudy. Perfect.

km 10: The mind starts making big plans for what the final time is going to be. At this rate I will be a tick over 4 hours, but might make my best time of 4:03:57. My heart rate monitor is not working so I run on feeling. I feel fine! No sign of the stomach bug.

km 16: The sun has come out, but I am running in the green leafy shade on the dead straight Oirschotsedijk. Keeping the speed of 5:46. Looking good. I dance with the music as I pass the music stands.

km 18: Zwaanstraat. Everyone is pushed to the left of the road. A Kenyan was going to lap us. A thin stick figure sprints past. I briefly toyed with the idea of trying to run with him for 50m or so. I didn’t. A complete waste of energy, and I probably wouldn’t be able to anyway. He was amazingly fast. He ended up running the marathon in 2:05.

km 21: Half marathon in just over 2 hours. Feeling good to run the second half. I start thinking: if I could just run at 5:30 per km I could make the marathon in under 4 hours. Maybe this time I could run the second half faster than the first. Now that I didn’t push too much at the beginning. I decide to wait until about km 30 to see how I feel then. The speed of 5:46 per km is maintained.

km 25: The sun is out. I pass the building with the thermometer. 14C. The first signs of people starting to walk. I still feel fine.

km 30: I am not going to increase the speed. But, the 5:46 per km is still possible. Just 12 km to go. I can start to feel the energy seeping away, but still feel ok. I start calculating what is needed to run under 4:03:57. I can’t do too precise calculations, though. The brain is switching off, as is the rest of the body. All energy is going into running.

km 35: Oirschotsedijk: Energy gone. The speed has slipped to 6:30 per km. I’m still OK, but a record is not going to happen. No worries. That wasn’t what I expected anyway. Let’s just finish this in a reasonable time.

km 38: Man, this is awful. What am I doing here? I shuffle along at 7:00 per km and stop for the odd walk. Walking is not much slower than running. People start to pass me. I am approaching the centre of Eindhoven where the masses are watching. I stop at the drink stops and drink and drink. And then I shuffle forward. Only 4 km to go. It feels like an eternity.

km 40: In the centre. I have run through the gauntlet of people cheering. I try to find the quieter places to walk. My body needs to stop, and it feigns it needs a toilet break. Desperately. There is a bar with the door opened wide. Welcoming. All tricks of the mind. I shuffle forward. The 4:15 pace setters have past me. My time will be slower than 4:15. I’m not bothered. Let’s just finish this.

The Matthew shuffle.

The Matthew shuffle.

km 42: The last km is signposted 1000m, 750m, 500m, 100m. Each of those signposts feels like they are a whole km apart. I can’t even shuffle forward without stopping between them. Then the finish comes. I stop. I have made it. The time was 4:19:47. And I am content.