Nuland, Holland to Borken, Germany

A ship on the Maas river at Cuijk Holland

School children in covered wagons in Heech, Holland?

Ah, what a relief it is. After an easy - once I got out of Holland - 86 mile day with seven hours of riding and 230 feet of climbing ;-}, I'm comfortably ensconced in my 40 E with breakfast room in Borken. It is actually quite a pleasant room, with beds for three people and a sink, but no toilet or shower. Every thing, including the shower and toilet rooms is very clean and very pleasant. I spent 4.5 E for lunch today and 5.5 E for supper - that included 2 E for a half liter of beer - so my total expenditure on this day are 51 E. That is just over half of what I spent yesterday. My knee doesn't hurt and my bottom is recovering for all the abuse it took in Belgium and Holland.

I don't know what the problem is with my left knee, but I do know how to work around it. If I keep that knee warm - hence the knee warmers - and keep my seat-pedal distance right, I really don't have much of a problem with it. If it gets cold, or the seat to pedal distance varies, that knee starts hurting. On this tour I've had problems due to cold and problems due to the varying seat to pedal distance caused by bumpy roads. In order to be more comfortable on bad roads (or bike paths), I have installed a suspension seat post. Because of my bad knee, I have its pre-load set very high so that the post is not active unless my butt takes a big hit. This makes riding on bad roads much more comfortable, but when the road surface is bad enough to activate the post a lot, my knee suffers. Although some of the roads in Romainia where much more unpleasant to ride than the worst bike paths in Holland, they didn't have the big variation in roads surface height, e.g they weren't wavy. Those bike paths, and some small roads paved with bricks, are wavy. That waviness causes my body to bounce up and down on the seat a lot, and the seat post gets very active, varying the seat to pedal distance. And my knee hurts.

The bike paths in both Belgium and Holland are worse, in this respect than any roads I have ridden, even in countries with very poor roads. In Albania, I took a mini-bus over a road that makes those bike path seem very smooth indeed, but I wouldn't dream of riding a bike, even a MTB ;-}, on that road.

The small road heading east

After the new best breakfast of the tour - there are some benefits from staying at 4 star hotels - I rode under the autoroute and checked out the bike path on the other side. It went back towards s-Heterogenbosh ;-{, but there was a nice little road, unsigned, going the other way, so I took it. At the end of that little road, there was was a bike path sign for Nijmegen.

The first sign

10 km or so later, where an expressway intersects the autoroute, The path T'd and the sign there didn't have a direction for Nijmegen! I knew I get here going trough Oss, so I picked that direction. Half a km later, seeing that I was going to be riding in the wrong direction for the next five km, I turned around and tried the other way. It never had a sign for NijMegen, but it followed a road that was signed for Nijmegen, so I figured it would be OK.

The second sign

The path I was riding parallels N-304. Looking at my map, I saw another road starting from N-304 at Grave and going south and east to Cuijk. I had no desire to (ever) ride through a Big city in Holland, so I decided to use this other road to get to Germany, if it had a bike path.

Holland's border with Germany moves much farther east right above Nijmegen, and there is a river, the Maas, running south-southwest - it parallels the Rhine - that only has a few bridges on it. If I entered Germany east of Nijmegen, I would still have to ride further south and east before I could cross the Rhine heading north east and still stay in Germany. By going down to Cuijk, I was actually taking a more direct route to where I wanted to cross the Rhine near Rees.

The bike path on D 304 near Grave
The path on 321 is similar

I rode into Grave, which is a nice town on south of N-304 and west of N-301 - the road to Cuijk, thinking I could ride out of it south end and get on the bike path along 321. I discovered that the only road in or out of Grave is the one that connects to 304. But I could hear the traffic on 321 from the eastern part of Grave! Since there was no road, I tried a foot path going in the right direction. It got me closer, so I tried another one. It got me in sight of the high bank on the west side of 321, and I found a dirt path that got me to the bike path on 321! A similar thing happened to me when I tried to ride south out of Cuijk, but that time I had to ride back about a km to get over to the road I wanted.

The bridge over the Maas
That small car in front, the lady on her bike, and even the bridge design are foreign to the US

The city hall in Gennep

I rode 321 south and across the Maas river to Genep, then I rode north and east through Ottersum th get to Germany. It was noon in Ottersum, so I stopped at a 'Cafeteria' that was just opening. This Cafeteria was a fast food deli, and I ordered the Frite Super Special and koffie. The super special turned out to be a large serving of French fries with grated onions and two kinds of sauce on top and two 'frankfurters' underneath. It was very tasty and quite filling.

Riding in Germasny
Note the nice bike path on the left side of the road that I'm NOT on

Riding in Germany was nice. I didn't have to worry about what I would do when the bike path ended or vanished, I could, almost always, ride on smooth pavement, and the roads, unlike the bike paths in Holland, were on my map! I was a very happy camper. I did get beeped at, twice, by drivers - both coming the other way, who thought I should be on the bike path. Note that, unlike Holland, I could choose to ride, or not to ride, the bike path. When traffic was low and lanes were wide, I choose not to. Most of my riding in Germany today - 75% or more - was in bike lanes or on shoulders that served as bike lanes or on bike 'roads' running parallel to highways. If the road or shoulder was too bumpy, I changed roads, and if traffic was light, rode in the road.

The bridge over the Rhine near Rees

I rode B 504 to Goch - with a big detour due to a map reading error, and B 67 from Goch to Isselburg. It was really nice riding between Goch and Kallar, with wind machines and farms and the first hills I'd seen in a week ;-},

I think of them as big flowers ;-}

D 67 has a separate, and smooth, bike road till it heads for Rees. Then it picks up a lot of traffic and had nice shoulders. When it gets near thr Rhine, the nice shoulders become concrete with tar strips, then, after Rees, they are good again, but just after Isselburg, they go back to even rougher concrete blocks. I bailed out at that point and rode back through Isselbrug and up to N 317, which parallels B 67 just below the Holland border. It mostly has good shoulders and light traffic, but it also had no shoulders for several miles, but that caused me no problems.

The stupid, and dangerous, posts

I almost crashed because some idiot decided to make the bike lane safer by putting posts in it. I was cruising along, looking at my map, when those post started. They were placed well within the bike lane - we wouldn't want them to get in the way of the cars! - and I missed the first one by a fraction of an inch as I swerved towards the outside of the road. With the posts about half a foot into the lane, my bags barely fit in the remaining space. Dumb!

N 317 comes down and merges with D 67 in Bocholt, a big town that was a bumpy pain to ride through. The sun had come out while I was on 317, so I'd taken off my riding shirt and was riding with just my jersey. I roll the shirt up and tuck it under the small bungee cord on top of my front trunk. I've ridden half a day or more with my shirt up there without problems in France but, in Bocholt, there was no way I could keep my shirt there because of the bumpy bike pat and lanes. There was also lots of traffic and folks coming out from small side alleys often need to partially block the bike path on order to see the traffic on D 67. On person pulled out so far into my lane that I had to go into the street to avoid her and, getting back into the lane was so bumpy that my rear pannier came partially off.

The bike road parallleling D 67 after Bocholt

Things were better after Bocholt, but 4 km from Borken, the bike road became a bike path and headed away from D 67. This was OK, even when the path was dirt, it was smoother than the last section of bike road, but it also meant that I passed under the road I was thinking of taking north with out being able to take it. There was what appeared to be a bike path paralleling the road, but it ended abruptly not far from the other bike path. These paths were very straight and headed due east, so I was, roughly above the middle of Borken, turn south onto a neighborhood street and make my way to the center - Zentrum here - of town.

When I saw this place, the German equivalent of Hotel-Bar-Restaurant, I stopped, went to the bar, and asked about a room. There was some delay - I have no idea why - but I got a great room for 40 E. After I cleaned up, I walked around thh Zentrum - a nice place - and found a Donner Kabob (and Pizza) place. Supper was a Donner Kabob - 3.5 E, very good, and, with a 2 E half liter beer, all I could eat. Life is good, and now to bed....

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