Discussion in 'CycleChat and Recreational Rides' started by mmmmartin, 7 Sep 2016.
I may return to Ghent in October, and if so, I'll buy a cap like that one.
Buy? Those were gifts.
I am sure that @User1252 in his modesty would claim only to be the assistant deputy corbel.
It was a very good tour. I'm only sorry I wasn't in the best shape and had to miss some bits out, but between the heat, sleeping badly and various physical niggles I'm sure I made the right decisions. Coming back through Dover and then through London reminded me just how lovely it is to cycle on the other side of the Channel!
As ever, great company, and the additional bonuses of local knowledge (thanks, Sabine) and local helpfulness (HIT manager and tap woman) made it a Very Good Week. Mind you, I've now washed my white top twice, and the stains from the tumble in the rushes with Andrew haven't come out...
I received an email by Sabine yesterday, who said she was deeply moved by our card. The ask me to share this with you:
thank you very much for your lovely postcard and the many good thanks. I am very happy you liked your stayhere in Aachen und you enjoyed the time. Best wishes for you and have always good bike-rides. I plan to take part on one of the Friday's bike ride in the next year.
Have a good time
I've just looked at my GPS tracks. Over 350 miles, despite cutting out two of the longer days. No wonder I'm shattered.
I've also just posted this on a different thread, but thought it belonged here too. There's an article in last Saturday's Guardian Review making the case that travel helps us understand each other. Maybe our little multi-cultural peloton of differentness brought something to the people and places we visited.
It also occurs to me that I had Greek, Lebanese, and Italian food - and rarely German, Belgian or Dutch. I suspect I'm looking at the outward signs rather than what's really going on.
My mileage between leaving the ferry at Hook and joining the one at Dunkerque was 602.4. But then I did do 112 miles on the 'rest day'....
On public transport and frontiers: on the Wednesday evening (the rest day in Aachen) we caught the bus from Sabine's house into the city centre. She lives out the south-east outskirts, only one stop in from the terminus at one of the city cemeteries. Like bus services in Northampton, the service from the south-east runs through the city centre to the north-west. In the case of Aachen's Bus 33, this means its other terminus is Vaals in the Netherlands. (We pedalled through Vaals on Thursday morning.) There are no stops at the frontier in either direction. The bus we caught had "Vaals" - the Dutch for the small town - on the front, and on the interior electronic signage for passengers. When we pedalled through the town the next day the roads had signs in both languages, adding the German "Vols" (IIRC) to the Dutch "Vaals". Sabine thought that about a quarter of the inhabitants of Vaals were German and that the bus is popular with commuters.
On food: we ate specifically German at the group meal in Cologne (or should that be Köln?) and at the group meal in Aachen (or should the the Aix-la-Chapelle?); specifically Belgian at the group meal in Gent (or should that be Ghent?). The small group from the B&B Hotel in Dunkirk (or should that be Dunkerque?) went to "L'Estaminet Flamand" and had Flemish (Belgian??) cuisine.
I like this definition of Belgian food: French cuisine, German portions!
In other news, the brand-new Mavic shorts that TC incited me to buy in Aachen have developed the same tear in an embarrassing place as my ultra-cheap Amazon pair they were bought to replace. It turns out that one of my saddle rivets is now sitting clear of the leather it's supposed to hold down, which is annoying. I've dropped a message to Brooks, but I expect them to quote me so much to repair the saddle that it'll be more sensible to get a new one.
And the right leg I overcooked on day one with poor saddle positioning is still sore. Fortunately it seems to be muscle rather than tendon, so I'm reasonably relaxed about it.
Could this actually be one of those rare occasions when the totemic advice "hit it with a hammer" is literally valid?
Percussive maintenance you mean?
I was really hoping I'd come back to this and you'd have left in the comment about my leg, so that I could say that the normal advice is RICE - which seems rather sounder than whacking my leg with a hammer.
But you hadn't, so I can't make that joke.
Life is so imperfect
Brooks have got back to me (on a Sunday!) I reproduce their advice without comment.
"Thanks for getting in touch. Protruding rivets can sometimes occur when the leather begins to soften and stretch with use. To amend this we normally recommend correcting the saddle tension (turning the tension nut - which is found on the nose of the saddle - a few revolutions in a clockwise direction) and tapping the protruding rivet(s) with a small hammer, being careful not to damage the surrounding leather"
I'm not sure whether I'll even try writing a tour report, given my past failings in getting that job done...
Photos are here however. A smattering below. As for the rest, so many great experiences with so many great people…
Despite having as about as good a bike for dealing with them as one can buy (with all due respect to Trek and Specialized, I doubt any bike floats over that ****), I would still tear up every cobblestone going. Same with that cross-hatched paving.
Whoever decided scooters are OK on bike paths in certain countries, what were you smoking?
Riding with Helen, Klaus and Jochen in their velomobiles (and seeing more of their fellow riders en route) did absolutely nothing to dampen my desire to acquire one of those lovely missiles some time. Quite the reverse. Might have been handy for the rest day audax..
Unseasonable weather was (mostly) pleasant however, despite the buckets of sweat produced. The Rucksack (or more accurately, the hydration pack it can carry) would have been rather handy...
There was so much excellent food, in some cases I was forced to eat extra portions There was even Proper Tea in Cologne and Aachen.
BREAD PUDDING! (whoever found that, thank you).
Vlaanderen, land of cyclists (where else would one go in a bar and find tributes to a local rider- no less than Yves Lampaert of Etixx-Quick Step, rest day audax colleagues, we saw him racing!?) I love that place.
Fantastic scenery. So much gorgeousness.
Crossing one of the world's great rivers.......
Michael Jackson. At a McDonalds in the style of a 1950s diner. No, me neither....
Celeste (Klaus, a Strada), Penelope (Helen, Versatile) and (round the corner) Endeavour (Jochen, Strada carbon). There was a certain irony in discussions about their weight considering the amount of luggage some of us were carrying…and these three could tear the legs off most roadies with a full touring load aboard!
A light snack, in Köln. Plate cleared and followed by dessert (a query about sharing a dessert was declined. Did not compute ).
The aforementioned 'knackered looking audaxers in supermarket lobby' photo. Not an easy day by any means, not in thirty-one degrees, but a great outing. Settling for a mere 161 km in the circumstances was more down to the imperial ton being my target than the heat or fatigue.
Recipe for audaxer's leg. Take one cyclist's lower limbs. Slather on factor 50 sun lotion. Mount on a bicycle, and pedal vigorously for several hours, until thoroughly mixed with road grit and god-knows-what. Remove crud in a shower, may take some time and effort.
A plane on stilts by the Scheldt near Wetteren, just outside Gent. A Boeing 707, owned by PanAm and then the Benin government, plans to convert it into a restaurant, sometime, apparently.... The rest of you missed it because you went the other way into the city (no, not the 'right way'. I wasn't lost and neither were you). Having made a solo break, I stuck with the path I knew from the FNRttK. Just as nice in the daytime, and I finally got to photograph this.
A damn fine bicycle, giving me a rest....
Thanks, again, everyone, with a special thank you to our (not) ride leaders @Gordon P and @redfalo. It was an honour and a privilege to just happen to be riding on the same roads as you
Now, some music. That was my first ever visit to Germany, but the nation, its people and culture have long had a special place in my heart. Watching Das Boot in 1981 taught me my first words of the language, some of them usable in polite conversation, and was the first time I heard of this football team named Schalke...So many Germans helped make this trip the glory it was- Olaf and Kat of course, then Haiko, Klaus and Jochen, Herr Röder the supermarket manager, our host at the Brauerei zum Malzmühle… Just like the Fridays, the band in the clip know how to get a party going, keep raising their own ante, and are guaranteed to put a smile on my face. Mein damen und herren, Till Lindemann doffs his hat at you. Then it explodes. Of course it explodes, this is Rammstein.....
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