Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 2 change of plan

We pack our damp bags and begin our ride south. Instead of the inland route to Brugge via Antwerp we've opted for the coastal route through Delft. Just south west of Delft is one of the worlds largest private succulent collections. It maps out at only 65 km from Amsterdam. By bike route it proves to be over 100km just to Delft. We left camp at 7am and got into Delft just after 6. 11 hours to go just 66 miles. Bike routes at every corner going in all directions. We often had to check directions 2 or 3 times in a mile which made for very slow progress. The compass really helped but often the trail zigged and a zagged in all directions . In the early afternoon we did stop at a small lakeside park and sun dried our sleeping gear. We rode around Delft and again a local directed us to a close by campground. A couple of beers at the campground pub finished off an interesting day.

Keep Rolling,

Friday, April 29, 2011

Prologue. With many Saturday rideslogged prior to this trip pete and I feel eager to test our everyday riding legs. Saturday train ing rides averaged 45 to 60 miles and one 115miler. We were riding one day out of seven. The european trip will be 100km everyday. See a problem comin?  Maybe the swimming yardage helps
Riding in seattle in winter means riding in the rain and dark; using lights and fenders,gloves, and lots of merino wool.  The bike takes a whippin too. All the grit and grimes attaches to the brakes and transmission. Additionally the roads are slippery when wet and visibility can be poor. Bottom line is we still feel ready to roll
Gearing the bike up for a ride has been a real learning experience. How much weight can I carry?  How different will the bik handl with racks and loaded panniers. One of the biggest challenges has been figuring out how to keep batteris charged while out on the road or camping. Cell phones, cameras, and lights all require batteries. Looked at hub generators but they are heavy and costly and you still require power conditioning. Solar panels are not quite there yet. The cheapest and lightest option is to carry extra batteries and charge them at night. Thanks chris west. Of course you need chargers and cords an euro power adapters
Obviously you canttake 80 pounds along as gear.  Lightweight camping gear is essential. Petes packed gear weighs 19 lbs and mine weighs about 22 lbs. Read othertourist reports. Some ride with trailers, ride with kids and pets. They look like winebagos. We decided on bivy sacks instead of tents no cooking gear we will cattle graze through europe. Bread, salami, cheese and wine. The breakfast of chamions
Another challenge was understanding airline policy for shipping th bikes. First we were told ~$50 dollars each way per bike. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. After rechecking we were quoted $200 each way per bike. There werealso size and weight restrictions. The shipping box could not be larger than 115 linear inches and weigh less than 50 lbs. Nervous anxiety filled me as we droppedthe bikes off at the checked baggage counter. The airline agent did not evenmeasure or weigh the package and only charged us $175 ea way. Pete and I laughed about the bargain we got especially since we packed both bikes in one box hehehe. Hope we get the same deal on the return flight

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Day 1 - Amsterdam

We are finally on our way. There was no problem with our double bike pack in a single box. It was ieven stranger when the agent without even weighing the box said it would be $175. John and I just looked at each other wondering -we had both studied the baggage files and bikes are $200. We depart Seattle at 2:30 PM with a 9 am arrival. Sleep never happens. 3 movies and 5 walks around the isles latter we arrive. A couple of hours later the bikes are assembled and and our navigational problems first become noticeable.
We spend way too much time finding the campground which is adjacent to the airport.
After checking maps maybe a dozen times we get to this beautiful wooded camping area in a very large park. They tell us that without tents we can not stay. Only gypsies sleep outside without tents! We decide to ride into Amsterdam before deciding what to do. We figure we can come back to the park after dark and find some bushes to sleep under. The sun is out the streets are jammed with bikes and people. A local in the red light district gave us directions to another campsite. We get a brownie to go and head for the camp. After more navigational stops we find the camp area and get set up. We eat desert first and head for the nice campsite pub for dinner and beer. Later sleep comes quickly. Around midnight it's raining and John moves to a sheltered area and I stay to test my bivy sacks waterproofing. Rooster crowing wakes me up at dawn and I pack wet gear away - my sleeping bag is mostly dry. Johns shelter leaked so he too is damp.
Keep Rolling,

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sigh, it's been a hectic final last few days. As a cost saving measure, the 200 each way for each bike caused us to disassemble the bikes so much that we could fit them into one box. We are going to do this ride on a budget. While packing the bike last minute repairs became apparent - my rear derailer needed parts replacement and of course a new cable was also needed. One more check of my packing and I'll be ready to fly tomorrow. I'm excited.

keep rolling,