I stopped today after only 69 miles which took five hours and 45 minutes of riding. I started the morning with the best breakfast of the tour, but it cost 10 E, in addition to the 62.50 E room cost. That was at the Bastion Hotel in Roosendaal where I stayed two nights and had four meals at a total cost of 160 E. If you add in the cost two other meals and snacks to make two full days, it would come to about 175 E for two days. $115 a day for touring here. Today is worse because I'm in an 85 E with breakfast, hotel. My total cost for today will be at least $120. Thanks to a dishonest US 'hard' dollar policy, I'm spending twice as much per day to tour as I would spend touring in the central US. The last time I was in Holland, the Euro was .9 USD, and it didn't cost much more to tour here than it did to tour in the coastal regions of the US. Note the The Euro is around 1.3 USD last time I checked, and it now costs about one and a half times as much as touring in the expensive parts of the US, not counting airfare.
I did enjoy the Bastion Hotel, my room, the great wireless, and the meals, all of which were good value, if I bit upscale from what I would choose. As I was leaving this morning, the lady working the desk - she also fixes and serves meals during the day - answered what she said would be one of many phone calls asking if they had room. She said they were always fully booked for the first half of the week and usually for every weekday. There are 24 Bastion Hotels in Holland, and they are all setup the same and run the same way. I bet almost all of them are also fully booked on most week nights because they offer such good value for business people. I'd be happy to stay in a place like that every night, but I'd rather not spend over $100 a night to do. Unfortunately, Except for my first night in Holland, I haven't seen any inexpensive lodging, or, except for pizza places like the one where I ate my one meal this afternoon, and McDs, I haven't seen many inexpensive places to eat either. This is definitely a more expensive country than France to tour in. Tomorrow, in Germany, I hope I can get back to sub $100 a day costs! Last year, my costs were as low as $25 a day for everything and usually more like $50 a day. This year has been more than twice as expensive, per day, because I'm in not riding in eastern Europe - yet.
Enough ranting about costs! Time to get back to ranting about the bike paths! I wasted several hour today because of missing or incorrect bike path signs. There were reasonable, if sometimes bumpy, bike paths everywhere I wanted to go today. Finding them in several towns was a major challenge. Following them in several cases require local knowledge because there were unmarked turns that had to be made to stay on the path, and, in one case, following the signs led me off the path! With out my compass, lots of help from nice people along the way, and exhaustively (and exhaustingly) exploring all possible routes, I would not have gotten very far today.
Carefully adding up all the distances on the roads running from my starting point to my ending point today give about 70 km. I rode 69 miles to get here. That means I rode 50% more miles than I would have ridden if I could have simply used the roads. Most of today's 'extra' mileage was due to the sign problems and the resultant need for exhaustive exploration I had to do to find the paths, but even without that problem, I think I'd have ridden an extra 25% just getting in and out of each city along the way.
It wasn't a great day for riding. chilly and gloomy all day, with light rain for about a third of the day and strong winds about a quarter of the day, but it was much better than yesterday with light rain in the morning and heavy rain and wind in the afternoon. I never need rain gear and, other than the fact that I seem to be developing a cold - sniff, sniff - and that the rain on my glasses made it hard to read the small bike route signs, the weather wasn't a big deal. I kept a shower cap on my handlebar mounted camera all day, pulling it up above the lens when I wanted to take a picture.
My day started riding to Breda, another big city about 20 km east of Roosendaal. That ride was pretty easy. It took an hour. Getting through Breda took more than half an hour and the assistance of two police officers to help me find a bike route to Oosterout. It shouldn't have been that way, but I think some vandals had moved the sign for the route I wanted. It sent me in a circle - which, having a compass, I noticed immediately. I stopped the two officers - they were also on bikes, and, after ten minutes or so of thinking about it, they were able to route me to a place where I found, with some searching. a path to Oosterout.
I followed the signs and ended up coming into Teteringen. a town south of Oosternout, from the north! I asked a postman there how to get to Oosternout and and he directed me back the way I'd come, which I expected, and told me where to turn. It wasn't marked. Things got worse after I got to Osternout. The postman had told me how to route out of Oosternout to get going toward s-Hetreogenbosch. After I stopped for a break under and expressway - it was raining - I Found myself on the correct bike path. I rode it till it dumped me out on the road.
This didn't feel right, but no one was honking at me so I rode on. That road ended at the autoroute, but the was a small road that continued. It wasn't marked, but it went in the right direction, so I tried it. It ended at a compost place. I rode back several km to where the path ended and tried the only other option, going into a large industrial park. No way out there except the way I got in. I rode further back and found a place where there was a small bike path on a road on the other side of the highway. It did not look promising, but I rode on and found the start of another bike path - Dominion Weg - going in the right direction. No sign indicated where it went, but it seemed to be my only option, so I took it. It was pretty and reasonably smooth.
Dominion Weg crossed over the autoroute. There was another path going off along the autoroute, but it was unsigned, so I stuck to Dominion weg. I seemed to be heading away form the autoroute, which was not good since that autoroute went where I wanted to go, so I stopped a rider coming the other way and asked for help. He had toured - ridden to Italy and back when he was younger. He ponder things a bit and gave me detailed instructions on how to get to Waalwijk and onto a bike path there. From there he said I should "keep heading east, always east" There was no way, since there were no signs, that I could have found that route without his help.
I stopped in Waalwijk, which is a neat little town with a wonderful church and a nice bread and pastry shop, but very bumpy brick roads, to get some pastry. I'd stopped in a town on the way to Breda to get bread. The pastry was good and the lady in the shop was interested in my tour. The bike path went east from Waalwijk to Vlijem and it was the nicest riding of the day. It even had its own street lights!
After Vlijem, the bike route, although it was signed in that town, disappeared. Well, it was on a street which T'd into a north-south street and there was no indication which way to turn. I rode down that street to a service station and asked the owner where to go. He told me to go across the autoroute and take the first road right. I did and it ws good. It wasn't a bike route, but rather just a small road that eventually led to a bigger road with a bike path going into s-Heterongenbosch. The small road ran a bit north, so I had a hard grind into that big city because of the wind, but the path, with only one major deviation, led completely around the city and out to Rosmalen, my next routing point. In the city, I saw a Pizza place and, at 4 PM, had my first meal since breakfast. It was very good. The folks there didn't speak English, so I continued on. The path I was following disappeared going into Rosmalen,.
I compass navigated through Rosmalen -"east, always east" - and found myself on a small road headed in the right direction. I was tired and my bad knee was hurting - it hurts when I have to ride rough roads and I'd had a bunch of that today - so I was hoping that I could find a place to stop. I asked another rider on that road if it would lead me to Nijmegen and he said it would, via OSS. I aked if Oss had any hotels. He said he thought so but he couldn't tell me where they were. I rode on.
Then the road T'd into another road and I followed the direction that was signed for Oss. That was the wrong direction since it took me to the autoroute as the way to get to Oss, so I stopped at a service station - there are, by American standards, very few service stations in Holland -and asked if there was a bike path. The woman said there was one just on the other side of the autoroute. Then I asked about hotels and she said there weren't any that way, but there was one "just around the corner." That is where I stopped, despite the 85 E cost, because, like the Bastion Hotel where I spent the last two nights, this hotel was the only hotel I've seen all day. I was worried that, despite the price and the fact that it is huge. it would be full. I think it is close to full because there are few, if any, empty parking places and there is also a tour bus here. It is comfortable and functional and I hope breakfast will be very good.
Tomorrow I may take the bike path , go back north and try for the road to Oss. In any case, I hope to get through Nijmegen and into Germany without further bike path frustration. I hope to, but I don't really expect to...