80 miles of relentless pedaling through forests and cobblestone streets yesterday, the former much more enjoyable than the latter. In the morning, my plan was to take a train from Hardenberg to Steenwijk, then cycle from there to Groningen, another 60 miles North. To take the train I had to take apart my trailer so it would fit, the train was severely overcrowded. My lugging of the now-3 large pieces of luggage (bike, trailer, and my huge yellow bag) through the station can only be described as a funny and ungraceful scramble which made me wish I’d done more deadlifts at the gym. This stuff is heavy!
After missing my train connection in Zwolle – because Dutch trains depart maddeningly on time! – I decided that instead of waiting for the next train, I should just get on the road. The weight of all my luggage was becoming unbearable. The train would have saved me 20 miles, so this now became another 80 mile day.
It was the day of wind and forests. The Dutch have an incredible system of well paved biking paths through large expanses of forest with tall trees, the smell of pines intoxicating. Whenever I segued from forest to small towns, the pavement turned to cobblestone which made me very grumpy and made my wrists hurt.
When I finally rolled into Groningen I was on the verge of tears. I just wanted to stand still. 80 mile days at this stage, I decided, are not a good idea. I found a campground in the Central Park of Groningen, which I found charming – yes it’s for regular people, not for hobos! I enjoy the diversity and cleanliness of campgrounds in the Netherlands, and the fact that I’m paying about 10 euros per night for each, since I am cycling in (it’s a little more if you come by car).
So far I’ve passed through no less than 8 Dutch provinces: Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel, Drenthe, Friesland and Groningen. Today will be my last day in the Netherlands, and after being spoiled with the luxurious cycling paths here, I’m apprehensive about what cycling will be like in Germany.