Great bike tours do not always have to go far away

A trip for 3 days to Oostkapelle (Holland) with my wife enabled me to do another short bike ride in September 2015. After the breakfast on the last day of our getaway, my wife went home by car. I was able to drive back the track with my Surly ECR, my personal highlight for this short break.

For the Team „car“ a cozy three hours trip, for me a 2-day „discovery tour“ at the flat regions of Holland & Belgium for the planned bike tour in 2016 with my 10 year old twins.
A bike ride in local regions is something with parachute, airbags and 5 star luxury infrastructures but also an opportunity to try new equipment without risks. On this 2 day ride following stuff will be tested:

• My one person tent „Kyrkja“ by Tatonka
• A Berghaus Voltage GORE-TEX Active Jacket
• A tire Schwalbe Super Moto version 29×2,35 (60-622)
• A Deuter lightweight sleeping bag
• Chia seeds as food
• Ginger tea instead of coffee

Later on, in a separate post, I’ll write down my experiences with the new “stuff”.

My journey started in Oostkapelle and the cycle paths brought me quit fast to Middelburg. On the Way home I didn´t want to follow a particular path, I wanted to follow, without GPS, a general direction „Germany“. My efforts were not very successful as I left Middelburg in the wrong direction. In Zanddijk I noticed my mistake and therefore from this point I let the Garmin carry out its work. After that, the ECR and me past without missing’s the airport midden Zeeland, Goes and Kruiningen. A few miles behind Kruiningen I left the N289 towards Bath. I then followed the shoreline and crossed the border to Belgium on an old smugglers‘ trail, the „border trail“ along the golf club Reymerswael.

Then I crossed the harbor area of my hometown Antwerp and cycled through chapels, Brasschaat and List to where I came to the Albert Canal. The channel would be my companion for several miles. At Grobbendonk a stay at a local chippy and a subsequent visit to the local supermarket was realy important to pick up calories urgently. After the stocking I went back to the Albert canal to follow him in the direction of Germany. Unfortunately at Herentals/ Meren I had to cycle something away of the channel but already at Zittaart I found very quickly a marvelous place to sleep.

On the other side of the channel a few anglers had gathered and were prepared to spend the night next to the river. I greeted friendly and also prepared my night camp. After that I prepared me a ginger tea, while drinking it an thinking about the adventures of this day, it was already getting dark.

On this first day I stayed 10 hours on the road, did about 150 Km (93 Miles) and had squandered fabulous 101 meters in altitude. As a substitute for the missing peak of intoxication I had the opportunity to drive on great cycling routes in Holland and Belgium, admire exciting boat lifts at the ship canal lift and discovering new places in “my” Belgium.

As final activity of the day it really has something soothing to sit with a tea by the water and watching the passing boats….
End of day. 1

When I woke up in the morning the channel disappeared behind a wall out of fog and as expected the tent was from the inside quit wet. I removed everything from the tent and put it on the dry road. Time to start breakfast and taste for the first time chia seeds, I cook them with milk and added a little fruit to finish the porridge. Inexperienced in dealing with the seeds I underestimate how strong they swell, the prepared amount off porridge would have been enough for 2 huge cyclists. Thus, besides ginger tea the only thing I eat this morning.

Meanwhile, the morning sun has driven the fog away and I could start stowing my stuff on the Surly. Somehow I never reached in optimizing the bundle up on my bicycle in the morning; I always need at least two hours for that. … Maybe it’s not so important to integrate optimized processes to “bike-backpacking-fun” early in the morning.

Starting my way again next to the Albert Chanel, the first groups with road racing bicycles past away. For short distances I arrived to follow some of them and enjoyed to use there slipstream. On the other hand, the colleagues with their ultralight carbon toys just go too fast to follow them with my Surly ECR tank with 25 kg of luggage on board.

As I want to pick up something with a Surly colleague in Kelmis near Aachen I left at Hasselt the canal and went through Bilzen Maastricht. Hasselt has pleasantly surprised me, it is a really nice city, especially on and around the canal there are really nice corners.
Behind Maastricht I made the detour around Aachen to Kelmis where I passed to the highest point of Holland. 322.5 meters (1058 Feet) above sea level …. So sweet ;-).

However, in this area I was a little careless with my digital route planning or downright cocky. This dirty planning had some “heavy pushing the bike in rough terrain” result. With already 56 Miles in my legs this supplementary gym was not really funny. But even this drudgery went over and so I passed Schleckheim, Breinig and Mausbach while slowly the night falls.

Somewhere on this section, I set upon a chippy to strengthen for the nightride. As we have a full moon that night, it is not completely dark. So I was able to drive on the track between Mausbach and Gürzenich with minimal LED position lights. When vehicles approaches, which at night in this area of the Eifel rarely happens, I turned on my driving light.

With the LED position lights on, I could almost cycle quietly through the forest and listen to the animals. It’s amazing when everything outside is silent, how active the wildlife at knight is.

For me it was a great experience to ride true the dark forest at knight, my wife said that even 10 horses would not get her into it… townsfolk…

So I passed Gürzenich, Düren and Nörvenich to finally arrive in Erftstadt. I traveled 160.25 km (100 Miles) and surmounted 958 meters (3140 Feet) in altitude. I was 14 hours on the road and 9 hours realy on my bike in motion. It was my first bike ride alone; I could drive, stop and eat when I wanted; a new experience for me as a „bike tour Greenhorn“.
Here the GPS track of the second day trip:


Some Pictures of the Biketrip:

CU Phil

  1 comment for “Great bike tours do not always have to go far away

  1. 24. Februar 2016 at 6:54 AM

    Awesome post! Awesome site! I too have an ECR and love seeing how people setup and use this excellent bike. Ride on!

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