By Myceliumme

West to east

It's under a week until we attempt to cycle from IJMuiden to Kiel: about 330 miles in 11 days. On our last cycling trip, in 2019, we pootled around Noordholland, averaging about 10 miles per day. (The longest journey on that holiday was from Lelystad to Zaandam - about 48 miles.) 

Before that we would not be upset by 50-mile days. The extras show our triumph from 2015. Just don't look at the average speed.

But now, having not holiday-cycled for 3 years, having not trained even on indoor bikes for several months, I was ... well ... not nervous, but unsure whether my legs will want to keep going  and whether my backside will ever speak to me again.

So, having engineered a mostly free day today, I loaded the bike with the gear I'm sure I'll carry and took a train to Bathgate. (I had a mid-afternoon commitment that prevented me going further.)

The ride was, well, OK. My legs kept going – slowly – most of the time, although I admit to a fag-break near the airport and stopping for a couple of minutes about 2 miles from home to air out my bahookie. I couldn't push very hard with my right leg, and I'm scared of clipping my left foot into the pedal in case it won't come out quickly. (The pedals have SPD clips on one side and small toe-cages on the other.)

However, the main issue was the cycle paths. The path-tarmac along most of the A89 is acceptable but at roundabouts the paths just disappear. At roundabouts, where I'm likely to need to pass several turnoffs, I'd want to be sure I'm safe from vehicles taking those turnoffs. In olden days, I'd feel safe enough to sprint around the roundabout, using inner lanes. Not just now. So this is where clearly marked, existent cycle-paths are needed, even if they aren't needed on the stretches between junctions. Several times, the path moves from one side of the road to the other without any indication. it just stops. You can see the path on the other side of the road but there's no obviously safe way to get to it.

Then from Maybury to the west end, there is no cycle path along the main road. There is a part-time bus/cycle-lane but the surface is crazed and painful. Hence my arse-pain-break.

Ahh well, I now know I can do 20 miles with hardly any pauses, so the better half's plan of 10 miles - coffee - 10 miles - lunch - 10 miles - stop can work, so long as there are suitable coffee and lunch venues, and places to stay. (Our experience over several years of cycling in the Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and France says there will be, and this is reinforced by knowing I'll be wearing better padding, and riding on better surfaces.) Also, in 2017 we cycled from IJMuiden to Hamburg and then on to Berlin. (500 miles in 12 cycling days and 2 sight-seeing days). We can't have completely lost it.


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