A boat coming up a channel as I wait at the drawbridge

Today was a relatively successful day of riding in Holland. I rode 95 miles and am about 70 miles from where I started, but only a few miles of that can be blamed on the bike route system. 15 mile was 'wasted' when I gambled and lost on the next town having hotels. It didn't and I had to ride back to the one that did. I've had that problem before, and under much worst riding conditions, so this wasn't that bad. It was complicated by the fact that it is now the holiday season in Europe, so when I did ride back, I had a hard time finding a room. The room I'm in is tiny, moderately expensive, and it was musty. I bet they only use it during the holiday season! Moreover my bike is outside, behind the hotel, in a great location for theft. They say that bike theft isn't a problem here in Nunspeet. I hope not.

The bike path leaving Valthe

When I rode into Emmen this morning, I stopped at the first bike store I saw that was open. A small, but high class place called Bicycles 4 You. It had a Colnago in the front window. The fellow working there - the owner, I'm sure - told me how to get to the place where I could buy bike route maps. Then he said "They are inside a big building and you'll have to lock your bike and leave it outside." I asked if that was safe he pointed to the nice bike he was working on and said two nice bikes were stolen there yesterday. No, it wasn't safe. He then said I didn't need that maps to get to Amsterdam, just a list of towns to go between on bike paths. Then another fellow came in who spoke better English and wrote the list for me to get to Zwolle, about 80 km down the bike paths. He said I could ask in Zwolle for routing to Amsterdam and recommended that I route through Utlrecht. He also told me how to get to the first bike path I needed, one going south out of Emmen to Erica.

The bike path south of Emmen

In Coevorden, I had to wait on a drawbridge

And some of the path was those annoying brick roads
but overall it was good, if a bit bumpy

I had a minor problem with the instructions to get to the right path - he said "stop sign" when he meant "stop light." That cost me about two miles. Then things went pretty well. I was able to follow the paths south to Schoonebeek and then follow the path east next to N863 most of the way to Zolle.

Most of the route paralleled the highway as a bike path, but there was a very nice section that left the highway before Slagharen and used an old road through Luten and Dedemsvaart for almost ten miles. I actually got confident enough to leave the path before Nieuwleusen and take another bike route south through farms to N340 and then ride N340 into Zolle. That one cost me a few miles, but got me away from busy roads for half and hour and into a peaceful, very gentle, rural environment. When I had to continue on N340's bike path, it was, briefly, unpleasant. Then I got back in the swing of things and cranked on into Zwolle.

In Zolle, I stopped at McDs - yes, I was hoping for one! - for a late lunch. I had snacked in Coevorden, but, even after a huge supper - I was at a two person table and the serving dishes completely filled the table - and a good breakfast, I was getting hungry after fifty miles of riding. McDs was located where N340 comes into an autoroute and where another N road heads south. There was a bike path for that road and some of the places listed on its bike path signs where in the right general direction, so I headed down that path after lunch. Pretty soon it gave me the option of going to places that were even more in the direction I wanted, and after riding east across Zwolle on various bike paths, selecting a better destination each time I saw one, I crossed the river Ijssel and headed east/southeast towards HarderWijk.

Leaving Zolle, heading across the river
I think a bridge with a windsock implies some strong winds!

The autoroute bridge I crossed under three times

As I rode following N308 and then N310 west, I crossed two autroutes. I got a bit confused, thinking I was north of the first autoroute when I was still south of it, so when I crossed it for the second time I thought I was crossing back south. That confusing and misreading my compass led me to retrace my step back to the last route sign. Then I figured out what had happened and continued on route.

When I reached Nunspeet, I thought about stopping, but I'd only done 80 miles and I figured I was good to make it to Harderwijk. I was. I even raced a kid on a MTB and won. He was on the other side of the road - these road often have paths on both sides when I passed him cruising at about 14 mph. Since he seemed determined to keep up with me, I speeded up to 15 mph. He held it for a while then gradually fell back. I forgot about him till I entered Harderwijk and looked in my my mirror. He had crossed the road and was drafting me <grin>! He turned of on a side street and I continued to the middle of town. No hotels. I stopped and asked; "Go to Nunspeet, that is where the hotels are." Sigh.

On the way back to Nunspeet, I saw a bike path that went off in the woods and led to Nunspeet. I took that instead of the path along the main road, got lost, and eventually found my way to Nunspeet about an hour and a half after I originally arrived here. Then it took half an hour to find a hotel and finally find one that wasn't full. It was 7:30 when I checked in after riding 95 miles in about seven and a half hours of actual riding. By a direct route, it is fifty mile from here to the airport, but I don't know how direct a route I can, or will use. I'll try to figure that out tomorrow!

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