Once again Uncle Bob has been prevailed upon to chauffeur us to the Port of Harwich. This time though we had opted for a night crossing so as to avoid the mind numbing boredom experienced last year. We were scheduled to depart at 23.00 hrs and efficient as ever Uncle Bob had researched the route to find that a vital road was closed for repair overnight. Very inconvenient. Alternative back roads were therefore travelled and in fact we made good progress and arrived with plenty of time to get set up and we peddled away waving farewell knowing that we would be in our beds before Bob.
Passports were checked and we were ushered on to the ferry, where Talula was strapped into the cycle coral. We felt like old hands at this lark. We not so quickly though found our cabin having searched what appeared to be identical corridors with our particular number sequence always being somewhere else. However, when eventually found, and after watching the bridge-cam for a while, we settled down to be gently rocked to sleep on the relatively calm North Sea.
What seemed like 5 minutes later, the tannoy chirped into life to announce that breakfast was being served. We roused ourselves and prepared for disembarkation, meeting our fellow cyclists in the coral, and found that Talula was not the only tandem to be touring that day. Our fellow tandemers were from Chesterfield and were heading out for a week with their brother/sister in law. Chatting about how each of us came to tandem, Sarah, the stoker at the rear of a purpose built bike for two, evidently has multiple sclerosis and though she has difficulty with balance and hand strength, her legs are fine so this enabled her and her husband to still pursue their cycle touring.
After a fair bit of hanging about, we got through passport control and were on our way. The weather was glorious, and all was right in our world. We quickly found the now familiar LF1 and headed north, and there was a real feeling of coming home to the welcoming bosom of a dear friend. The cycle ways of Holland are a fully integrated and interconnected system and so you feel such safety when travelling their length. The Dutch make full use of this, with their lifestyles seeming to be embracing of enjoyment of the outdoors especially under their own steam.
Our aim is to make it to Copenhagen and then wend our way back down to Hook of Holland via Belgium and we clocked up the miles today, passing landmarks that we recalled from last year. The going though was not flat as the route takes us along the coast through sand dunes and most of the day was pedalling into a headwind. Talula has developed a new ‘song’ as we ride, having been fitted with a new front pannier rack which the wind whistles through; it took a little while to get used to this.
Although the cycle routes are well marked, we have found again on this trip that the LF1 is not always easy to follow when you come to a town and have called on the trusty View Ranger app to get/keep us on course.
Making good progress, despite the undulating terrain and headwinds, we decided to see if we could get to the campsite we had used on our second night of last year’s trip. We got to the ferry at Velsen-Noord which is clearly a busy crossing as the disembarking scooters and cycles were like the Whacky Races; waiting impatiently for the barrier to be lifted and were out of the starting blocks with alarming alacrity as soon as it was. We opted not to participate; our heavy and slow moving bike, and by that stage, legs would not have been able to muster the necessary vim, vigour or vitality for the competition.
We got to our destination after 5pm and when checking in, found we were still on the system from last year. Last year though, we had the place practically to ourselves, it is positively busy by Mr V’s standards this time round.
We press on north, north-east tomorrow in readiness for crossing a rather long sea levee (25 miles ish) the following day. Here’s hoping the wind is in our backs!