Cycling trip 2009

Calais – Wieleń (1400km)

France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Poland – Total cycling time: 76.49.10 Avg speed: 17.95

  • Equipment: bike – Turismo24
  • Back panniers – Altura – waterproof. Couple of cycling bibs, Speg and another one – not the best for such a log trip, couple of cycling shirts, Chamois cream – the one that has got menthol in it – from Assos, one cycling jersey and I travelled with some cloth change that I could use in the evening during the cycling and afterwards during my stay in Poland. Waterproofs – jacket and pans. Used just the jacket. Sunblock – SPF  – 25 works for me.
  • Things to consider: better cycling shorts, definitely chain tool and spare bits and pieces for the bike – even though you will not use them at all. Do not book Hotels in advance unless you know exactly the distance you will cycle. Take it relatively easy during the trip – your legs will last longer.
  • Maps – viaMichelin – printed maps from the internet and made a nice booklet. Good but time consuming and limiting in the overview of the bigger picture.
  • Europa-Radweg R1 – by bike line – Check the book on Amazon – maps 1:75.000, good quality and highly detailed maps and plenty of information about accommodation, bike shop and points of interest on the way.
  • more info at the bottom of the log…
Ticket to Dover

Day 1 (2/8/2009) Calais – Oostende

Route map

  • Time: 4.50.10 hrs
  • Distance: 112.47 km
  • Avg Speed: 23.2 km/h
  • Max Speed: 42.9 km/h
  • Trip distance: 123.90 km

The start of the trip wasn’t very nice. Over-night’s excitement of first solo cycling trip got to me and I woke up pretty tired. Managed to get the bike on the tube and went to Liverpool Street where I met Helena and Ronald. Train to Dover was quite busy, so sitting next to toilets and being subjected to a large number of human traffic made any attempt of having a nap totally impossible.

Bike parking on the ferry

In Calais – trying to get out of the port area proved very tricky. I lost one hour cycling around and looking for a tiny little road that would take me out of there. Finally using a compass helped and I managed to get out of the port area. I have asked for the way out some Ukrainian track drivers, nice people that live next to the road in plastic sheds. I realised very quickly how much I am going to depend on people along the way. I cycled in circles and past the same bit of motorway at least three times.

After the initial hiccup in navigation following the road got much easier and road signs were much more friendly. Advice for future trips – Sunday in continental Europe – all of the shops are closed!!! Not a petrol station or little shop. All shut.

Thanks God I took some bananas from home and finished them off before getting to Middlekirque. After crossing the border with Belgium – cycling path – all the way to Oostende. The wind was coming from the back all the way to Dunkerque, managed to go 42.9 km/h on flat with no special effort. Great.

In Belgium, the wind direction changed and I had some head wind but not very strong. A little crisis before the Middlekirque – cramp in right thigh.

Had a dinner in italian restaurant Moretti – Penne Arrabiata – very tasty. Afterwards had a walk around the centre of the town and stopped for a whisky and a pint at Ron’s Pub – out of all of the places it looked really cosy and the music was great – good ol’ rock’n’roll.

HOTEL LOUISA *** – € 47 – small room with shower and nice, big, comfy bed.

Hotel Louisa

Feeling a bit weird – don’t know if it is because of the sun or some little cold.

Views along the road weren’t very exciting, very plain stage and loads of cars but cycling proved to be quite easy even on busy roads. People were very friendly on the road – French speaking English – this is quite a something. Maps not very useful in Calais – Nokia map was excellent taking me through the most difficult patches. D119 – starts just like this. there is no sign nothing – spent 1 hour looking for the road. Looks like in Belgium cyclist is like a cow in India – untouchable. What a difference and nice change from cycling in UK.

Day 2 (3/8/2009) Oostende – Brielle

Route map

  • Time: 8.47.50 hrs
  • Distance: 174.18 km
  • Avg Speed: 19.7 km/h
  • Max Speed: 32.9 km/h
  • Trip distance: 298.10 km
On the way to Brugge
On the way to Brugge

Very long day. Started early  and everything went very smooth to Brugge.

Brugge
Brugge
Brugge

A beautiful place, but I didn’t stay long and soon was seeing out of Brugge sign.

Leaving Brugge

Cycled to Breskens and took ferry across to Vlissingen. € 3.55

Ferry Breskens - Vlissingen

Then it was plain sailing. I just didn’t realise that this trip was holding a surprise for me. The distance! If it wasn’t because of the booking of the hotel in Brielle, I wouldn’t have cycled all these kilometres.

Great views and fantastic cycling paths along the coast. 4 very long bridges and a ferry.

Along the coast
One of the long bridges.

Muscles are not too bad but I am feeling pain in my knees. Let’s hope they will get better tomorrow. Tomorrow I have to slow down the number of kilometres cycled. Next stage is looking like around 100km even if I go through Den Haag.

Road signs were showing Brielle 20 km for about 4 km – people on the road very helpful apart from cyclists that were doing time trials. Wankers!!! Couple of them didn’t stop and I couldn’t find the way out of the labyrinth. I planned for 150 km and did 30 km more – up to 150 mark all was fine – afterwards it was uphill.

Had a nice supper in the town square @ de Hoofdwacht  – 2 beers, whisky, 1 bottle of sparkling water, tomato soup and big plate of pasta. € – 33.65

Nice supper in Brielle

Very nice Hotel – De Zalm – € 41

Hotel De Zalm

Stairs in the hotel weren’t “Stairway to Heaven”

Day 3 (4/8/2009) Brielle – Utrecht – OH MY GOD

Route map

  • Time: 6.27.28 hrs
  • Distance: 97.57 km
  • Avg Speed: 15 km/h
  • Max Speed: 33.3 km/h
  • Trip distance: 395.6 km

After the epic cycle yesterday it was a time for a big struggle today in order to reach Utrecht. On the way to Rotterdam – incredible Bridge. The middle part just goes up to let ships through and then is back down in couple of minutes. One of the wonders of engineering. Road to Rotterdam was flat but had to stop from time to time to take painkillers and walk a little. My knees were getting stiff.

After Rotterdam – through Capelle and Krimpen – beautiful sights, very nice cycling routes and plenty of Dutch cyclist. I met few of them several times as we were overtaking each other. I was going faster but had to stop more often to stretch my legs.

Beautiful places and houses all along the canals. One of the places to live in.

From Oudderkerk – smells very much reminding farms with cows and pigs till I got to Utrecht.

Utrecht quite a large city. Plenty of cyclists and the infrastructure prepared for it. Loads of bike parking spaces. Very prominent St. Martin’s Cathedral or Dom Church in the middle of the town. Got directions to the Hotel. The last one pre-booked before the trip.

It was quite difficult to find my way to the Hotel. Got there on last legs. In the Hotel – very steep stairs. Had a little walk and felt a bit better than yesterday. Tomorrow will try to cycle a bit more and have more rest.

Little Siam Hotel – € 57.12

Got some medicine (pain killers) and plenty of drinks for tomorrow. Had very good chinese for supper.

Day 4 (5/8/2009) Utrecht – Doetinchem by train Doetinchem – Barchem – by bike

Route map

  • Time: 3.04.21 hrs
  • Distance: 32.77 km
  • Avg Speed: 10.6 km/h
  • Max Speed: 19.6 km/h
  • Trip distance: 428.4 km

The night was very difficult. Couldn’t get to sleep even though I had a few pain killers. Phoned Kuba and he is ready to drive and pick me up from the road if the pain will impede totally my cycling.

First Ibuprofen - One of many

In the morning decided to do part of the route – Utrecht – Doetinchem – by train.

Utrecht - Arnhem
Arnhem - Doetinchem
All day bike card on Dutch railway

Then cycled from Doetinchem to Barchem. Pain was unbearable at times and I had to stop and stretch my legs every 15-20 min of cycling. My knees were getting locked, what a strange feeling. Mananged to cycle my way to Barchem. Stopped at a very nice Hotel “In de Groene Jager”. Owners were very nice and I decided to stay another day and give myself a short break.

Day 5 (6/8/2009) Barchem

Ice sessions all day at the Hotel.

Walks – very short around the village. Very nice people in the Hotel, had plenty of ice and very tasty meals.

Hotel “In de Groene Jager” – 2 nights – € 70 – nice room and shower shared on the floor but very clean.

Meals and drinks came to € 42.45.

In de Groene Jager - after a day of nursing my knees

Day 6 (7/8/2009) Barchem – Stadtlohn

Route map

  • Time: 4.10.59 hrs
  • Distance: 51.91 km
  • Avg Speed: 12.3 km/h
  • Max Speed: 23.4 km/h
  • Trip distance: 480.3 km

Cycled with loads of pain and was very aware of the injury. Should have stayed another day in Barchem to recover better. Nice route but it was very difficult to enjoy the ride because of the injury.

Germany
Cycled to Germany

Day 7 and 8 (8/8/2009 and 9/8/2009) Stadtlohn

Elo Puppies

When I got to Stadtlohn decided to stay at a Pension Sintic. Run by a lovely couple Monika and Norbert Sintic. They are breeding Elo dogs and Norbert has got a massive aquarium.

I have decided to stay at the pension for couple of days and give my knees plenty of rest, pain killers and ice. Norbert and Monica looked after me very well. Got proper ice pack from them that I was putting on my knees constantly during the first day of my stay. Went to eat at a Gaststatte Haus Gosling. Their food was really great as suggested by the Sintic.

The rest was really great and pain killers and ice packs helped enough for me to feel much better on day 2 of my stay with the Sintic.

During my rest I have decided to abandon the International cycling route R1 and follow the main roads in the future to minimise the distance and effort.

Pension Sintic, Erlenweg 10, tel: 404942 – can’t remember exactly how much was the room, I think it was € 25 and I got a discount as well. Room was very nice, clean, TV. There was access to fridge, kitchen and bar. After 2 days of proper rest I decided to to continue with the trip and checked with Norbert the best way of getting into the next point of my trip.

Day 9 (10/8/2009) Stadtlohn – Müssingen, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Route map

  • Time: 5.04.18 hrs
  • Distance: 93.45 km
  • Avg Speed: 18.3 km/h
  • Max Speed: 48 km/h
  • Trip distance: 574.5 km

After 2 day’s break from cycling it was a decisive stage in order to see the real state of my knees. Started the day with a bit of pain but soon was enjoying the ride. No problems to Coesfeld – cycling on the main road, it was a good choice of route. Then took a route to Nuttuln and added a few kilometres as road signs were very poor.

Managed to cycle up the Coesfeld Berg. Nice climb. Then found my way to Nottuln and Münster. Felt pretty well so cycled pass Münster. On R1 most of the road good, some parts unpaved and not very well signposted.

Münster - felt really well getting to this town
Münster
Beautiful Light on streets of Münster

Hotel Birkeneck – € 38.50, very nice Hotel and they served very good food and beer as well.

After getting into the room a half an hour session with ice and another one before I went to sleep. all the time travelling on pain killers.

Day 10 (11/8/2009) Müssingen – Berlebeck

Route map

  • Time: 5.46.45 hrs
  • Distance: 95.55 km
  • Avg Speed: 16.5 km/h
  • Max Speed: 47.6 km/h
  • Trip distance: 670.1 km

The day started well, there was no pain at all. I got to Warendorf very quickly and without problems. In Warendorf I lost my way and spent 1 hour searching for the route I was trying to cycle, putting a lot of effort and going through additional kilometres.

Finally managed to get out of the little road along the canal, cycling on a horse path. Then I found the route and checked several times if I was cycling in the right direction on my compass.

Gütersloh – next adventure, I should have learned by now that road signs are not very good on the R1. I used Nokia this time – maps on the phone are proving to be very good. Shame I forgot to bring the GPS receiver. would have been much easier to navigate. I lost another hour in Gütersloh trying to find my route.

After Gütesloh my knees started hurting again so I decided stop more often and give myself more breaks. I got to Augustdorf without problems where I decided to take a short-cut. Hmm … I went close to a military base, there were no signs at all, I got lost in the woodland but somehow managed to cycle my way to Hiddesen.

I was feeling really tired but finding my way through the woodlands gave me a bit more of courage and I cycled the remaining 4 kilometres at a tortoise pace.

Haus am Wasserfall – I THINK! And the price I got written on one of the papers € 49. Sounds just about right. It was a very nice Hotel in a very quiet place. went for a meal to a Bistro Königsstuben. Had Goulash soup, schnitzel and couple of beers.

Bistro Königsstuben

Day 11 (12/8/2009) Berlebeck – Stahle

Route map

  • Time: 3.18.26 hrs
  • Distance: 54.87 km
  • Avg Speed: 16.5 km/h
  • Max Speed: 49.9 km/h
  • Trip distance: 725 km

Day started with an uphill for about 2 km to Horn. afterwards very short downhill and again uphill to Münsterbrock. Then the route took me downhill to Marienmünster and then through beautiful forests from Bödexen to Albaxen.Holzminden am Wesser – nice town. There started raining and I decided to stop.

Views along the way to Stahl
Views along the way to Stahl
Views along the way to Stahl
Views along the way to Stahl
View from the Hotel

Went back to Stahle had nice hotel and a good meal.

Hotel Kiekenstein – € 39. Had lunch and supper at the Hotel.

Hotel Kiekenstein - nice lunch and supper
Hotel Kiekenstein- nice lunch and supper

Day 12 (13/8/2009) Stahle – Seesen

Route map

  • Time: 4.35.58 hrs
  • Distance: 79.99 km
  • Avg Speed: 17.3 km/h
  • Max Speed: 49.8 km/h
  • Trip distance: 805 km
Stahle
Stahle

Up the hill from Holzminden for at least 2 km. The a bit of flatter route and up the hill again. Did 15 km in first hour of cycling. When the route got flatter did 25 km in the second hour. Just shows – what goes up has to come down. Very nice downhill – nearly to Einbeck.

Sign-posts along the way - reminding about the cold war
Sign-posts along the way - reminding about the cold war

In Einbeck stopped over in a bike shop (workshop) to check my front gears that were not working properly. The guys in the shop were fantastic. I spent 1 hour or so in the shop and the guys sorted out my breaks and front gears. We had a very nice chat and guys from the shop filled my bottle with some nice drink and a key ring.

City – Bike
Räder – Service & mehr
Kohnser Weg 7
37574 Einbeck
Tel 0 55 61 – 972333
www.city-bike-einbeck.de

City - Bike in Einbeck

Guys – thank you very much, Heiko and Uwe. My bike felt much happier.

Afterwards the route went up and down the hill from Bad Gandershein.

The last bit to Seesen really nice up the hill on unpaved road. Beautiful views from Heber – The Highest Point on the route. The R1 was marked here with the little witch picture. There was another panoramic view just down the hill from Heber.

Views from Heber
Views from Heber
Views from Heber
Views from Heber

Then up the stretch that doesn’t look like a hill – for about 3 km.

Hotel zum alten Fritz – € 44.00. Very nice place, good service and tasty food. Had a good old Schnitzel and couple of pints.

Nice beer in Seesen
Hotel in Seesen

Day 13 (14/8/2009) Seesen – Quedlinburg

Route map

  • Time: 6.01.47 hrs
  • Distance: 101.9 km
  • Avg Speed: 16.8km/h
  • Max Speed: 46.7 km/h
  • Trip distance: 906.9 km

Today it was a very strange day. First of all the weather was very crazy. Cold and hot, sunshine and clouds – very quick changes, Getting jumper on and off.

Then the navigation and following the route became a problem. I couldn’t find the correct route so was changing and adjusting the navigation constantly. I managed to get to Goslar relatively OK and then found myself changing the route and cycled to Vienenburg.

Goslar
Goslar

After Vienenburg finding signs on the road was a bit easier. Had loads of cobblestone roads and cycling proved to be rather difficult.Then again nearly lost the way to Warenstedt. Very nice downhill but the surface of the road made it more difficult to cycle on.

Quedlinburg – town lost in time. Looks very old and you can see the age everywhere – very abandoned and looks like is being restored bit by bit.

Pension ‘Ingrid’ – € 41.00 plus € 1.50. Had my meal at the Hotel and it was tasty. The room with private shower and the décor was rather quirky.

Pension 'Ingrid' - what a colourful place
Pension 'Ingrid' - what a colourful place
Pension 'Ingrid' - what a colourful place
Pension Ingrid
Harz card

Day 14 (15/8/2009) Quedlinburg – Wörlitz

Route map

  • Time: 6.01.00 hrs
  • Distance: 116.98 km
  • Avg Speed: 19.3 km/h
  • Max Speed: 43.6 km/h
  • Trip distance: 1023.8 km

The stage was very nice today. Surprisingly easy navigation. Couple of changes of the route but it hasn’t changed the amount of cycled kilometres. The weather was great nearly all the way. The wind changed and was much stronger towards the end of the stage at about 16.30.

Quedlinburg - feel of East Germany
Quedlinburg - feel of East Germany
Quedlinburg - feel of East Germany

Cycled first 40 – 60 km in a very good tempo. Just after passing Kühren I had to change my cycling shorts for more comfortable ones – Speg, and get more cream as the friction became a real problem whilst riding.

Somehow managed to cycle to my destination after a bit more than 6 hours in the saddle.

In Aken – town celebrations. Plenty of stalls selling nice food and loads of beer. Had some nice wurst and a good drink and then went on my way again.

Now the bombshell – I know what was wrong with yesterday’s odd feeling on the road. Since yesterday I am cycling in DDR. The East Germany. I realised today that the strange look of the town of Quedlinburg was because I was in the ‘other’ Germany. The first indication that something was wrong was a little light blue Trabant that passed!!!!! me this morning just after Quedlinburg. Then I remembered vaguely that I passed by a sign ‘Bundesrepublik’.

The road from Shwarz to Dessau reminded me of the Polish roads between the socialist farm villages. PGR – Sowchos, that were left after the Nazi constructions in the 1930’s and 1940’s and never been taken care of afterwards.

There were a few hills in the first 40 kilometres and afterwards flat route.

1000 km mark happened 7 km from Dessau.

First 1000 km on the road

Pension ‘Shulze’ – € 30.00

Day 15 (16/8/2009) Wörlitz – Ferch – Potsdam

Route map

  • Time: 5.09.11 hrs
  • Distance: 86.68 km
  • Avg Speed: 16.8km/h
  • Max Speed: 43.8 km/h
  • Trip distance: 1110.5 km

What a day!!!!!!

First of all the route was great, plenty of up and down hills. First 4 km all uphill and then loads more. Very nice ferry on the river to Coswig. The way it was working!!! and € 1.00 only.

Ferry across to Coswig

Most of the stage was up and down

Straach

On the mark of 80 km I managed to get my chain of the front gears. I couldn’t get it back on so after walking with the bike for kilometre or so I decided to sort it out and broke the chain. Definitely bringing a chain tool and spare bits of the chain for the next trip.

I pushed the bike and rode some down hills through beautiful woodlands to Ferch, from where, after 1 hrs wait I took the bus to Potsdam Hauptbanhof. I paid €2.40 and €1.80 for the bus and it included the fare for the bike. The bus was absolutely packed. Then I took a train from there to Charlottenhof – €2.80.

Ticket to Potsdam
Ticket to Potsdam - with the bike
Train in Potsdam

Pension ‘Sanssouci’ – very nice place in the neighbourhood that definitely remembers communist times in Germany. Opposite to the Pension building with squatters. Very colourful.

Had a meal at Villa Saran – Pizza, Pasta and Three Pints of Radeberger. Great!!! Just next door to the Pension.

Supper in Villa Saran

Day 16 (17/8/2009) Potsdam – Seelow

Route map

  • Time: 6.16.24 hrs
  • Distance: 116 km
  • Avg Speed: 18.5 km/h
  • Max Speed: 43.7 km/h
  • Trip distance: 1226.8 km

Started the day by pushing the bike to one of the cycling shops in Potsdam. The guys in the shop sorted out my chain for € 5.00.

Today the navigation was relatively easy. Had some problems after Berlin but managed to cycle through to Seelow nearly without putting any additional kilometres.

As usual up and down the hill from Potsdam to Seelow.

Great cycle through the forest between Potsdam and Berlin. Loads of cyclists and fantastic fresh air and cycling paths all along.

Cycling through Berlin was easy – navigation wise but took a lot of time due to the massive number of red lights I had to stop on. I could feel the Athletics Weltmeistershaft in the air. There were so many people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I had a Wurst and soda by the Branderburger Tor and went on my way.

Berlin
Berlin
Berlin
Berlin
Berlin

Afterwards cycling was relatively easy to Vogelsdorf where suddenly I found myself cycling on a motorway – nearly! I had a ride surrounded by big trucks and plenty of little cars for about 5km. Then I found a diversion and a cycling route to Frankfurt. In Müncheberg nearly lost my way again, so I went back and found sign to Seelow.

On the 8th km the chain came off again but managed to put it back myself. Found the Hotel very close to the routed.

Hotel ‘Brandenburger Hof’ – € 52.00. Very nice Hotel and with very friendly staff. Had my supper at the Hotel – Goulash, tomato soup and loads of beer.

Hotel in Seelow

Day 17 (18/8/2009) Seelow – Wieleń

Route map

  • Time: 7.14.34 hrs
  • Distance: 151.86 km
  • Avg Speed: 20.9 km/h
  • Max Speed: 38.9 km/h
  • Trip distance: 1378.7 km

Last day of the trip. Felt quite emotional from the start. I could feel the end of the road even-tough there were around 150 km ahead of me.

I was surprised to find a very nice cycling route from Kostrzyń to Gorzów Wielkopolski.

Kostrzyń – I managed to cycle close to 1300km with drivers respecting me on the road, and as soon as I crossed the border to Poland I got my first warning that things have changed. (I heard first ‘Kurwa’)

Królewski Szlak Rowerowy was great and the ride was very easy and nice. As I was cycling I realised how times have changed. During my trip, I came from the UK, then crossed borders to France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Poland and not nobody checked my passport.

Odra - First view of Poland
Odra - First view of Poland

As soon as I got to Gorzów Wielkopolski the very nice Królewski Szlak Rowerowy changed to a cobblestone road impossible to ride on. What a waste. People in Gorzów cycling on very narrow walking paths – no infrastructure for cyclists at all.

There was a big traffic jam in Gorzów due to a BWM that was burnt completely and fire brigade and police closed off the main street in Gorzów.

Afterwards cycled to Santok were I saw this beautiful landscape:

Polish landscapes on the way to Wieleń
Polish landscapes on the way to Wieleń

Then the road took me to Zwierzyn. Countryside road with a surface that looked like the washing board. I couldn’t cycle more than 10km/h because of the shaking of the bike.

From Zwierzyn to Wieleń the route was great again with beautiful landscapes along the river Noteć.

Getting into Wieleń was very emotional, all the pain and initial struggle were behind and the sense of achievement was overwhelming. Arriving on the bike and greeting Bożena on her doorstep was just great.

Day 18 (19/8/2009) Wieleń

Had a short trip around the sites close to Wieleń to top up to 1400km and then relaxed a lot.


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