Part of a large windfarm near the Germany/Holland border

Today I rode from Germany into Holland. The first fifty plus miles of the day were in Germany with pretty good riding conditions. The last 20 or 30 miles were in Holland with very lousy riding conditions. A big part of that was the weather: It started raining as I approached the border and was rainy and windy for all of the time I rode in Holland. However, another part was the difficulty of riding in a country that requires bicyclists to stay on bike paths and does a lousy job of marking those paths so that a foreign cyclist can get anywhere. So far, Holland is the worst country for bicycling I've ever bicycled in.

After my initial frustration with the bike paths, I set out to make my way as best I could to Emmen, the big city in these parts which is only 10 miles or so, by direct road, from where I crossed the border. Of course I could not use the road. Instead I rode twice as far in moderate rain and wind on mostly brick bike paths and still didn't get to Emmen. This despite the fact that I stopped at a very good bike shop after about ten miles and confirmed that I was indeed headed for Emmen. Yeah, right, but only if I knew the way to go at each of several unmarked places where I had to make a choice! This, to be impolite, stinks.

Tomorrow I will, hopefully - I can't be sure since I don't know where the bike route go! - make it to Emmen which is "only" five miles from where I ended up after riding for several hours in the rain and the wind. I will ask where the ANWB is - I don't know what it means, but the bike shop told me that is where I must go to get bike route maps. Note: this was a very large - bigger than any I've been in in the US - and very nice bike shop, but they don't have the maps! You have to go to the big city to get the maps.

I will ask the folks at ANWB what I need to do to ride to Amsterdam - roughly 100 miles by direct route - and, depending on their answer, I may then ask them how to get to the train station. I'm not in a mood to put up with a lot of trouble in order to bike across the Netherlands. It simply isn't worth it to me. In another country, I would be riding to Amsterdam tomorrow instead of having to try to find out how to ride to Amsterdam.

Germany was a pain because the bike routes meant a few car drivers didn't think I had a right to be on the road. Holland is a much worse pain, so far, because I don't have a right to be on the road and, unlike Germany, there don't seem to be bike paths following the major roads. That is another bad point: These are bike routes, not bike paths, and cars can and do use the ones that are wide enough for them. I don't like having a car pass me at 40 mph a foot away in rain with wind (!), but that happened four times today. Moreover, in Germany, bikes had the right of way when they are on bike paths. They don't here. They don't seem get much respect from drivers either. Give me France, or even Germany, but not this "bike friendly" country! <RANT MODE OFF>

The road out of Cloppenburg

The road to Lindern

Lindern, on of several similar towns along the route

Bike path, road, and railroad all in fifty feet

B408 just before the rain started

I had a good night in Cloppenburg and an enjoyable ride from there to near the edge of Germany. I used small roads, bike paths on minor roads, and the bike path on one major road to get to the border. During almost all of that riding, skies were overcast and the temperature as steady at about 25 C (high 70s F). It was windier and cooler than it has been, and I was able to average about 13 mph cranking east. When I got near the border, I decided to ride a bit north and look for a bike/pedestrian border crossing that was on a map I saw. I didn't find it, but I did find a big wind farm which I enjoyed riding near for at least an hour. I also found some very quiet countryside with nice farms - this is a rich part of Germany - and several small towns that seemed to be closed. Fortunately, I had stopped on the way to Lindern at a small supermarket to get a pastry, a liter of coke and some cheese. Then I stopped about an hour later to eat the pastry and make a cheese sandwich with some good German bread I already had. Because nothing was open in the small towns near the border, I stopped again to eat "lunch" from these same supplies on a little road that parallels the border roughly across from Wessintange (My Autoroute software does not have either the roads or the towns correct on the German side!) and then rode south to B408 and east on B408 to the border.

It started to rain when I was about 2 km from the border and I considered stopping for the day at that last town on the German side, but decided to don my rain gear and continue. That was a decision I regretted as soon as I crossed the border and realized that I was in bike route hell. I stopped at a service station store to ask for help, but a jerk came in as I was asking and proceeded to tie up the only English speaking person there for a long time asking about cigars. I gave up and left after ten minutes. Not being one to retreat, I just did the best I could to find a route that followed the road to Emmen. That worked, after a fashion, for a few miles, but then there was a roundabout and the bike path went only one way, the way to Ter Appel, which was in the wrong direction. Not wanting to go back, I rode on to Ter Appel. The bike path there T'd into a road along a canal. There was no indication which way I should go, so I tried one and when it didn't work out, rode back the other way - bike route hell - and eventually found a sign saying this way to Emmen - but Emmen was now farther away than when I came into Holland. It was also raining and blowing harder, so I cranked on down the bike route, cursing. In the next town down that way, I stopped at the bike shop and things were looking good, "Straight ahead down that road," he said. I guess he only does it in a car!

"That road" Y'd and I took the branch that went straight ahead. It was the way to Emmen, but the bike path only lasted till the edge of town. I rode back and took the other branch. I followed a canal out of town, then became a mud road (it was raining pretty hard) with a narrow concrete bike path along side. That T'd into a road that looked like the road to Emmen with a bike path on one side. I guessed at which direction to take - no sign again - and rode down the bike path. A few miles later I found myself in Valthe, a small town north of Emmen. It was still raining, but it was also showing signs of clearing. I stopped at a hotel and visited with a fellow who was touring with his wife (we only do 60 km/day he said wistfully after listening to where I had been riding). They were waiting out the rain. I asked about a room at that hotel, but they were full. I went down the road to a second, smaller, hotel and got a room. It had stopped raining, but I was tired of riding in Holland.

My room is nice, and cheap, and I just had a supper that, in quantity of courses and the fact that it was all prepared from scratch, rivalled some of my French meals. so life is good, but I'd really rather be in some other country. Hmm, maybe I'll go straight to the train station and not even bother with ANWB tomorrow. I better sleep on it.

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