It’s easy to recommend the EV15 for a cycling holiday or as an introduction to bicycle touring. The route is mostly flat (downhill all the way from Switzerland said the Dutch), well marked and nearby services all the way. Starting from Chur makes things a bit easier, since you wouldn’t have to climb up the high passes in the beginning.

Until this trip I had ridden only a one century ever, but on this tour, most of the days I made it well past a 100km. With a nice slow pace you can keep on going for longer and not get too much if any muscle soreness. The only thing sore all along the way was my poor bum and in the end I did come to the conclusion that the Brooks B17 is too narrow for my big bum and upright riding position. Better off to get a wider one then (update: have since found the B67 to be a wonderful touring saddle). I  do enjoy the upright position as it’s easier with a cranky lower back and there’s not so much neck stretching while enjoying the scenery.

Lot of the times I was probably enjoying the scenery more than having my eyes on the road, but managed to stay alive. The kit was sufficient enough, a kitchen towel worked somewhat well after forgetting my spacetravel-era-tech-towel to the first camp site. For the next time I’ll consider a wider saddle, but also change the handlebars and upgrade the gears as there might be some hills, so low gears will be needed. Also, will be looking into SPD sandals, which might be a solution in terms of fitting footwear and riding with clipless pedals. (Update 07/2017: cycling in floppy footwear and sandals with platform pedals all the time and happy with it.)

Kept being pretty cautious with my budget and so didn’t get to enjoy the local cuisines much and also didn’t have a single glass of wine in the end. Wasn’t really the region for my taste, with wine that is. It was a third time in all countries apart from Switzerland where it was my time. Apart from a few dull sections the route kept being enjoyable and interesting to ride and some of the best parts was to ride through the pretty woods and forests in all four countries.

Following the river was a nice way of making the way, but of course a lot of times the route was a bit far away from the river. The thing was, that riding with the river you could see it’s life and journey from the source to the sea. Might have to go back one day to ride the Andermatt – Chur section and visit the source of the river. This journey was also a lesson about connecting, being connected and present. Here and now. Not thinking about the past too much, nor the future.

It was a good time of a year to ride with the weather being mostly very pleasant. There are some quite busy sections and if you’re more into solitude or adventures in the wild, this is not the route to take. But it’s a nice way to see a bit of central (?) Europe and enjoy some outdoors and cycling while you’re at it. The whole route can be done in 10 days (or less) if you’re ready to ride long days or you can take a month and enjoy many of the nice towns along the way.

I did manage to keep below my budget, Germany being very affordable helped with that as did the wild camping nights and tinned lentils. It is possible to sleep in a B&B, hotel etc. all along the way and it is also possible and quite easy to camp in the wild along the way. Hammock camping would not be a problem either, as long as you carry some insulation (underblanket) because it might get cold during the nights.

Thank you for Jugi and Dee on encouraging me to write about the trip.Thank you for the all kind and nice people along the way and also for the grumpy ones, as it is always a good lesson trying to keep on smiling when meeting grumpy people.

For now – it’s time to enjoy the Netherlands and have some fun.

Der Rhein, danke schön. Le Rhin, merci beaucoup.



Rotterdam – Hoek Van Holland

The plan was to ride to the sea first and then continue cycling all the way to Alkmaar. Turned out that it would have been a bit of long day and as I was slowly getting myself done with cycling for now, so I decided that Hague will do it. Which was where I rode after finishing the EV15.

For once more time I had to find my way out of town. After a few cobble stone streets and canals, the route became a bit more straightforward heading out to the sea. I smelled a familiar smell in the morning, the scent of Netherlands. Sort of combination of salty air, sea, pot, cheese and sin. Kind of enjoyed that scent. Halfway trough I started riding a bit more faster than the leisurely pace I’d been keeping all the way from Switzerland. The sea was close, I could feel it. Almost there. I rode trough the sand dunes and salty air, ending up to the beach. But there was a concrete mole extending into the sea and that’s where I had to be.

Rode all the way to the end of the mole, stopped, got off the bike and gazed into the mist. Popped open a tin of Heineken and raised a toast for the sea and for those that love her and those that she loves or has loved.

Distance: 35km

Track of the Day: Rammstein – Nebel


Gorinchem – Rotterdam

Upon waking up to a new day that should take me to Rotterdam, I recalled having had some funny dreams about sand castles and ant colonies… Woke up to the birds singing and for the first time during the trip I didn’t really enjoy their singing as much as I had done so far. Didn’t mind them singing so much anymore after someone was walking their dog nearby and the dog kept barking and barking once it had spotted me. No more sleeping for that morning it was.

While riding trough Germany, I kept telling myself that I won’t return there anymore, but I’m already missing it. Not feeling like home here in the Netherlands, apart from the fact that people don’t seem to be staring so much anymore. Seems like I’m fitting the motley crew here. Must say, from all four countries along the way, this seemed the most creative and funky. Maybe a bit more conservative than it used to be, but definitely funky. All the little arty details, like ironing boards serving as a terrace tables. Those little things.

The rain had eventually gone somewhere else, maybe Ireland. It was sunny and quite balmy and so I decided to change into my sandals, even though they didn’t serve as proper riding shoes, a bit too floppy. But at least my feet got some fresh air and sunshine and were not rotting in a pair of damp leather sneakers anymore.

Went a bit mad at breakfast and had two muffins. That was two too many and for the next couple of hours was riding forward with an upset stomach. The second cup of coffee was free, which oddly enough surprised me, as it’s quite a common custom isn’t it?

I was entering the marshlands and suddenly remembered my local friend Bas describing the Dutch being some kind of swamp people. What ever that’s supposed to mean. There was a lot of road work going on and most of the roads were closed down and all the sign posting was gone. I bumped into a French speaking Swiss couple who came from Basel and together we made our way out of the marshland, with a few wrong turns as was already customary at this point.

There would be one more ferry over the river and it was better to have snack before that, as there were also a few miles left. Another one of those tasty salads in the sunshine and life was feeling good again. Aboard the ferry I met some nice folk, an Italian girl and a fellow from Peru who was living in Rotterdam. They gave me some advice on regarding where to stay. It was really nice for a change to be talking to people who have that laid-back vibe and that attitude of people from a warmer climate such as where they were coming from.

As I was approaching Rotterdam and climbing up to the bridge, the first thing I saw was this massive mosque. It was quite an imposing sight with the sun shining from behind of it. Am I still in Netherlands? After crossing that bridge I came to the Erasmus bridge and without too many wrong turns found myself to the hostel I was told to go to. While checking in I handed my driver’s license over the counter and was replied in Finnish. Turned out that the receptionist was a young energetic lad from Finland working at the hostel and that there was also a girl from from Finland working there too, never got the chance to meet her though.

While the previous countries do offer some quite good culinary choices, I can’t say the same of Netherlands. But this a great place to dine in a bit more exotic restaurants and after asking, I was recommended a Suriname restaurant and a certain dish to try there. Had a wonderful chicken curry with some rice and managed to add a bit too much of chili on it. Already being a bit sun kissed and red I just turned a bit more red and sweaty and bled and wept over the plate while enjoying the curry in a this full packed popular restaurant.

Distance: 90km

Track of the Day: The Mamas & The Papas – California Dreamin’


Arnhem – Gorinchem

Started a bit late today, wasn’t at all in the mood to cycle anyway and crawled back to my sleeping bag and fell a sleep for a while in the morning. I guess the sleep was also needed.

Most of the gear seems to dry up quite quickly, but not the shoes, so I really enjoyed putting on some wet shoes and crawling out of my tent to pack it in the rain. Looked like the rain wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. But it was nice to be still riding through the lovely woods, smooth start even in the rain.

Later on the day I came out in the open plains and the wind and rain just kept bashing me. For every mile I rode, the wind blew me back two miles and sideways a mile. Started getting enough of it after a while and thew in a few profane words here and there. But didn’t course the wind, nor the rain. It’s just mother nature, sometimes she has to throw in a bit of rain and some wind with it.

There are always a lot of little things along the way that make you smile. This time it was walking into the supermarket and finding plethora of packed salads. What a joy to have something fresh and tasty after a diet of kebabs. They’re not too bad, the kebabs that is. At least when compared to the German currywursts with chips, the döners are like L.A. health food. But oh the salad, fresh greens and rice and olives and aahh… what a joy.

There were a few route options and after half a day of riding I realized that I had taken a different route than the one I was supposed to take, adding another 50km to journey. Also it seemed really difficult to find a place to camp with everything fenced off and houses at sight all the time. Then I noticed a little walk path going in the forest, grabbed the bike found a spot from the forest. It was already dark when I was pitching the tent as it had been a long slow day. Didn’t mid using the head torch as the spot was behind the dykes and none would probably see the light.

Distance: 100km

Track of the Day: B.J.Thomas – Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head


Wesel – Arnhem

As I woke up in the morning I saw it was  going to be a bit of a wet day. At least I stayed dry under the bridge and it was warm during the night. It seemed to be that the closer I keep getting to my destination, the less other cyclists there are, but I still spotted a couple today – all riding to the other direction still.

I hadn’t really prepared for the rain too well as I trusted there would not be too many downpours. Did of course remember that Netherlands ain’t the Mediterranean. I had a light windbreaker which held some rain and a cape. By the time I reached the first bakery for some coffee and a croissant, I was already soaked. With a few words of broken German I could tell a lady at the cafe, that no, it’s not really an enjoyable weather to ride in.

Today I would reach Netherlands and was really looking forward of it, already had my fare share of Germany. When I did arrive, soaked, cold, wet, miserable – I was shocked how expensive everything seemed. Not like it used to be, some 10 or more years ago. Compared to Germany, the purchase power of my euros suddenly dropped dramatically.

Even the Dutch looked wet, so I thought it must be a really bad weather then. Of course ‘there is no such thing as a bad weather, only inappropriate clothing’, as Ranulph Fiennes put it. I had to take a ferry over the river but there seemed to be none, but then I was told that it will be there at 4pm. At 4pm there was still no ferry and then I was told that when it’s bad weather it won’t run so frequently, but that there will be one for certain at 5pm. Decided to have a drink at the cafe to warm myself up while waiting.

Didn’t really seem to enjoy arriving to Netherlands, nothing to do with the weather of course, but when I reached Arnhem, the mood got a bit better. As I was looking for an internet cafe to check out if there is anything affordable where to stay in the town, I bumped into a pub where they told me where to find the cafe from. Returned to the pub later for a pint just to say thanks. Had a chat with the bartender, an Italian metal head, who was quite keen on Finnish metal music as it turned out.

Passing the Best Western I was tempted to check in and have a good sleep on a nice bed, but thought that it would do some good to camp in the rain for a change. At least I’d remember to take some waterproof footwear next time after a couple of wet days with wet shoes.

Netherlands is supposed to be flat right? Well, this area wasn’t and as riding in the wind and the rain had already made be quite fatigued, it wasn’t a joy finding myself riding uphill. But it was a joy to find myself winding my way through some really nice woods. From where I eventually found a spot for the tent, between the woods and a corn field.

Distance: 80 km

Track of the Day: Bob Seger – Against the Wind


Cologne – Wesel

I could not keep track on the miles anymore as the cable of the computer snapped, not precisely at least. So from now on the mileage will be an estimation based on the maps and the ride time.

I still had some laundry to do in the morning, as I forgot to take care of it the previous day. So I had to wait for that for a bit and then for a bit more, as some kind fellow traveler filled the tumble dryer with her hand washed clothes just a moment before I got back into the laundry room. Staring at the machine time display saying that it would take a couple of hours, I just thought that f**** it, took her laundry out and put mine in for a half an hour. Of course I did put hers back in later, probably took a day in the dryer for her panties to dry.

Had a breakfast together with Kazunori, a fellow Japanese cyclist and introduced the Eurovelo network to him. As I was packing my stuff I noticed that once again, I’ve lost something. No surprise there then. I had a bought a lottery coupon from the airport and it was for 5 weeks so there would still be a few draws left. I can still see the headlines of the tabloids in my head: ‘Lottery winner missing – 30 million euros unclaimed’.

Physically the ride wasn’t too bad, but after a weekend at the Irish Pub, my soul was hurting. I really missed some music while riding and of course, as usual, it was a bit of a palava to get out of town. Industrial areas and factories for the first hours wasn’t very mind lifting. Eventually I did make it still and as the hours went by, the ride was soothing my soul.

I was passing trough a small village and stopped over to take a look at the map of the route as a fellow sitting on the bench called me over. Looked like tribal brothers, well a brother and a sister as it was a couple. Funky bicycles, bad tattoos and smoking roll ups, we spoke the same language. They were asking about my trip and told me that they know the route very well. They also said there won’t be too many places to camp as it will get really industrial, which it had been the whole day.

I could have decided to ride on the other side of the river, through Düsseldorf, but thought that it would be a bit more difficult to navigate on that side. Well, wasn’t any easier on the side I took and the day included the mandatory wrong turns and holy miles. Turned out later that there was a plenty of opportunities for camping and I found just the perfect spot. Under the bridge. There I was, staring at the graffitis thinking how some people might live under the bridge, dreaming of a home and I’m there, under the bridge and happier then happy. Well, I did miss a beer and then suddenly remembered that I had a mini bottle of Jägermeister with me, which did the job.

Distance: 140km

Ride time: 9 h 30 min.

Track of the Day: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under the Bridge

Under the Bridge


Or should I name the post Barney Vallely’s perhaps. Because that’s where I spent most of the day, as is approriate on a rest day.

Mornings are always difficult as I’ve mentioned, today it was a specially difficult one. I wonder why? Had to move on and did long to town, so with a hazy head I said farewell to the Japanese cyclist and rode into town to look for the place I was supposed to stay at. To save on the costs I had booked a room from a hostel, but found out later during the day that the town was empty this evening and there would have been some good deals in some central hotels. Also turned out that my fellow cyclist was staying at the same place.

I dumped my stuff in and went to have some breakfast, the plan was a brunch or a lunch today so I wanted to save some room for the proper German meal. The festival was still on and the people looking even groovier, if that’s a good way to describe it. Finally some leather trousers in Germany….

Soon I found myself from the pub again, healing the head and soul. The Finnish girl joined in later and together with a nice chap from the Isle of Man (living in Cologne though) we spent the afternoon chatting while occasionally checking what’s going on with the British Formula. Turned out the chap was an engineer and done parts for the F1 cars.

So the meal of the day turned out to be less of the German pork and more of the Kölsch, which doesn’t count as a beer but as a recovery drink. Eventually we left, myself only to find my way back later to have a couple of more and then one more for the road…

Distance: 10km

Track of the Day: Eppu Normaali – Baarikärpänen