Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page. As you can see we did it form London to Amsterdam and Back. Michael Broom and I cycled a little over 400 miles for SJS Awareness. All 13 of us made it to Holland that is twice last year's number of riders. 12 riders made it all the way to Amsterdam. Mike Robinson had to work and sadly left us iin Rotterdam. But the rest, four graduates from 2016 & eight first timers made it all the way, defying all adversity, poor prep, fitness, breakages, weather, lack of sleep & bad temper. If anyone is interested I have a little illustrated presentation to prove it.
There were a few different methods of travelling to France, but the largest group of 6 met at in London at Parliament Square. We had arranged to split in to 3 teams, Nick Moffit on his 3 speed Dutch Gazelle led team A, Jon Chambers on another 3 speed led team B & I can't remember who led our team C, it probably should have been Mike Robinson. Six of the guys with representatives from all 3 teams met at Parliament Square, including Mike and Winston. Winston was on his super fast three wheeler recumbent.
They set off on the first leg London to Whitstable & I tagged along for the first bit as photographer. The ride could have had a better start There was a little friction and a couple of mishaps & wrong turnings on route to Greenwich. The coffee stop at Deptford made a difference. At Greenwich after photobgraphing the group with the William III statue, I turned round for home.
The following morning in the sunshine, I met Michael Broom at Southall Station and took the fast train from St Pancress to Kent, getting there in time to meet the team after lunch at Deal. I noticed my first problem, my saddle had started to break. It was very windy. We climbed up the hill through the golf course towards the white cliffs at St Margaret's & Dover and found it was a dead end. We turned around and tried again and saw our ferry sheltering before fighting it's way, with a tug, in to the dock. At Dover in the rain we met up with more of the group, Our team was completed by Margaret on the second recumbent and 12 of us disembarked at Dunkirk. The first calamity occurred in the dark during the short ride to our very adequate & very inexpensive hotel. The rack came off Winston's recumbent and mangled his gears. Even with Michael's expertise It took half an hour to sort out and it was there that team C gained its nickname, Calamity. My saddle was still breaking.
Thursday was bright & all three teams set out from the hotel to Dunkirk Central and to find Paul who had come up from the middle of France. Before we left Dunkirk we had a puncture, I think our only puncture. Paul found & puncture mended we were on our way again and just as it started raining but softly. A few miles on at the Belgium boarder we stopped at the same little cafe as last year. Of course we stopped for our first strong beer. The weather didn't get better as we made our way to a warming lunch stop. Lunch was good & we spent too long over it & consequently arrived in Brugges after dark, that didn't help us find Bauhuse St Christopher or appreciate the beauty of the city. Team C shared a room at the hostel & none of us had a wonderful night. It was noisy, Margaret couldn't sleep, Winston was too long for his bunk, Michael still had a cold and the bloke below me was ill & we left him sleeping it off on Friday morning.
The rain had stopped but Friday morning was overcast. We had breakfast in the hostel, we would stay there again but must insist on a dedicated room. We then took the road North out of Brugges & then right along the wide canal. The day got better & we were excited by lunch in a classic Flemish restaurant , again a longer meal than ideal. The highlights were a beautifully built WW2 blockhouse, our first windmill, a hot air balloon & a long, wide tunnel under the river dedicated to cycles. We took the same as last year and crossed under the river & arrived in Antwerp, 'party central', in the dark. This year we were a bit later. Our hostel was in the very center of the city in front of the cathedral & Team C's room was on the top floor in front of the bell tower. We expected the worst but instead had comfy beds and wonderful views. Dinner was squeezed in at the Museum Restaurant beside the cathedral. Some of the group were tempted by the night club opposite which was a lot noisier than the cathedral bells, that I must have slept through,
Saturday breakfast at the hostel wasn't as good as Bauhaus., but outside the sun shone & the municipal cleaning team returned the city to its sparkling condition. We were on our way half an hour earlier than Friday, traveling North we crossed the monster bridge and later caught up with the others & then missed a shower of rain by stopping for a coffee. Coffee and cake were very important. We crossed in to the Netherlands and caught up with the others again for lunch of a super burger. This was our longest ride and there were two more super cycle tunnels, super locks for proper ships & losts of wind generators. It was very dark when we reached Rotterdam in light rain & it was then we found our super apartment was 10km to the North of the city. Mike, was going to leave us here & was hugely generous & patient. We lost Winston & Michael, got cold, hadn't eaten, got bad tempered &, at midnight, having found our apartment, couldn't find the key to the get in. Eventually we got in & coffee & the Golden arches' Big Macs came to our rescue. Despite our bad tempers we all slept very well.
The Golden Arches were so welcoming, on Sunday we started off with a MacBreakfast. Martin kindly met us there and took over from Mike. He led us along the dykes past fabulous wind pumps (I missed my friend from last year) & on to lunch by river where we caught up with Nick & the team A crew. After lunch we did the boring bit beside the river to Schipol & then through the forrest to Amsterdam & through the Rykes Museum to the I AMSTERDAM sign. With the occasional push from Winston and less occasionally from Michael and me Margatet did wonderfully. & cycled her recumbent all the way. Nick got to the meeting point first, but we weren't far behind him & it was just 5.00pm & light! Jon's team had enjoyed lunch & was an hour behind us. We were refreshed by beer before they arrived & shortly after that installed ourselves across the road with our second beer & a well earned meal. We had made it & from there we all went our separate ways.
Michael & I had booked a nice little hotel for a couple of nights R&R. On the Monday we attempted to visit all 10 of the free attractions of Amsterdam. We did the City wall, the royal palace, the Jordaan District, the Vondelpark, the remaining wind pump & its brewery, & tried the beer, the maritime museum, Anne Franks house, the Skinny bridge & almost found the edge of the red light district & we had already seen the 'I AMSTERDAM' sign &, almost at midnight we got lost and had to be directed back to the hotel, by a lovely Dutch woman.
Tuesday morning was misty first thing, Michael & I retraced our tracks past Schipol & the wind pumps & eventually to the wonderful city of Delft where I bought 3 souvenirs. There were a couple of stops on route for beers & coffee. We were welcomed & spoilt. Then the last little sprint to the Hook of Holland & the ferry. We checked in & had time to retire to the restaurant on the beach for Dutch meat balls. And I had a paddle & took a photo for David. We had beaten Margaret & Winston who had taken the train & who joined us at the restaurant. I was tired & mislayed my passport, but that didn't stop me sleeping well on the ferry to Harwich.
Early on Wednesday morning we arrived at Harwich, had a coffee, put Winston on the train to London, put Margaret on the little ferry to Felixstow, just to complete her adventure. I pumped up & popped my back tyre, mended that & cycled off for another coffee at The Naze. The intention had been to cycle to Colchester, but by Walton pier we found the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal van. We cycled along the promenade past Frinton to Great Holland where we saw the Walton lifeboat shadowing a yatch. Chatting to a chap on top of the cliff we discovered that a WW2 mine had been found & while we watched they popped it. The stories of the great Great Holland quake are fibs!
We retired for lunch at the Kingscliffe Hotel. The staff didn't know about the mine & hadn't felt the explosion & as it had got cold we took the easy option and the train home from Clacton to Liverpool Street. Unsurprisingly we cycled home in the rush hour from Liverpool Street to Southall. Apparently Margaret saw and passed us in her hire car & my saddle which had started to break on the way out at Deal, broke as soon as we got back to Southall.
Thats it, we did it, I did it again & beware I intend to do it again for the third & last time in 2018. As I said at the beginning I have put together an illustrated presentation, which I have given 2 or 3 times and if any of you or your groups would like to see it, do let me know. Get hold of me on 07824 556170.
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity.