|View from the bridge, Rhenen|
Rhenen. The center of town is quite busy this hot Saturday morning with cafés, shops and traffic rolling up and down the main drag. A lively little town. There's even a "coffeeshop," called Meeting Point, tucked amidst the optometrists and clothing stores, selling joints for the price of an espresso.
|Chillin' on the Maasdijk|
|Rondje Betuwe - Day 2|
This is bayou country, swampy pasturelands and a lazy river plied by pleasure craft, ferries, water-skiers. This outstanding part of the trail goes west past the ferry for Elst, Eck en Wiel, the recreational Eiland van Maurik, until the Amsterdam Rijnkanaal where it cuts south, then strikes west to Culemborg.
|Het Dijkje motorcycle camping|
|Joop de Jonge, vriend op de fiets|
"Don't get lost," he said.
I wandered around Maurik looking for the shop and by the time I finally located it, it was 5:15. But the shop was still open. A white-haired man got me an inner tube and a new patch kit. I returned along the river road to the motorcycle camp. Now I had an inner tube but realized it was complicated getting the old one off/ new one on since the rear wheel cannot be easily removed. I had to get more wrenches from Joop. Just then a tall young brunette encased in black lycra arrived and asked Joop for a campsite. She had a tent. I asked her, as a touring cyclist, if she knew anything about removing rear wheels. Not much, she responded, hers is a quick release. She helped me pry the wheel off the frame but I wasn't strong enough to do it. Then Joop gave me a tool specially designed for pulling things apart. I set it up between the frame and the fragile plastic chain housing.
I kept screwing in the prying tool until I could finally pull the frame so that the tube could slip by an opening in the central wheel bolt. After a great effort I managed it, then realized I'd also have to remove the brake cable from its housing.
Meanwhile the cyclist babe was setting up her tent. When she was finished she sat down in front of it and spoke to none of the bikers.
All this was taking time but I felt unhurried. Joop came round again and I asked him if by any chance he had any rooms. He did, in the barracks-like structure I was standing beside. In fact, he was a member of Vrienden op de Fiets! I phoned my contact in Lierdam, the destination for today's journey, around 40km west, and for a second time canceled.
I removed the brake cable and managed to get the tube off and put the new one on. Then it was a question of properly tightening all the bolts I'd removed. The rear wheel was a bit crooked but it seemed ok. I pumped up the tire and was ready to go.
|Eiland van Maurik recreation area|
I was quite hungry and asked Joop if there was any place to eat. He said there was a pancake house at Eiland van Maurik and a snack bar in Eck en Wiel, the nearest village. I headed back west to Eiland van Maurik. Here a broad bend in the Neder Rijn is cut off from the main course of the river by a sand deposit to form a lagoon, now supposedly a "haven for water and nature lovers."
But the gated recreational facility is crammed with RVs, hardly a place to appreciate nature. I went to the restaurant anyway and had a large pancake littered with bacon, cheese and tomato (€11.40). It was almost 10 when I got back to Het Dijkje. I had a shower. The bikers were all sitting around their tents with fires but I didn't feel like socializing. It was a very pleasant cool evening but there was nowhere to sit comfortably so I just went back to my little room, feeling blue, and slept.