Friday, March 8, 2013

Bike-ulele tour, part 3

The Di Blasi, ready to roll.
This morning in Tiel, Del was determined to return to Amsterdam. Then we would take the train back to Den Bosch tomorrow, where we've got a workshop scheduled, and I could get my presumably faster Gazelle. "But that seems like a surrender," I told Del, since we could easily ride on to Den Bosch from here, under 40km. And I had purchased the folding Di Blasi for the trip and it worked ok, if not optimally, and thanks to Del's guidance, I'd fashioned a handy luggage transport technique: suspend the backpack from a wooden rod under the seat and use the sternum strap as a support on the seat post. By placing the bungee cords across the rear rack, the pack would be pushed back and not interfere with pedaling. We got a broomstick at a household items shop on Albert Cuypstraat in Amsterdam, and Del asked the guy at the bike store nearby to saw it to size. At the same store I purchased a nice handlebar bag.

(note: original date of this entry: July 16, 2012)

So all this preparation and Del was ready to abort the first day. True, when we awoke at Elli's place in Tiel it was drizzling. But by the time we got to Tiel station it had stopped. "You're just being suckered by the weather," she said, only a matter of time before it starts pouring again. I knew better than to press her: Del makes up her mind, that's it. Then she suggested I just push on myself and she'd go back to Amsterdam. That seemed a good solution though I felt unhappy that Del would not join me. I gave her the keys and she got on a train to Utrecht. I biked into town, got some food and cycled down to the Waal, through an old city gate. I quickly found the ferry to Wamel (€1.60, runs till 8 or 9 pm) and am now pedaling along the south bank of the Waal. It's peaceful and beautiful along this trail with sunshine filtering through the clouds, a row of rustling ginkgos between me and the river, a pasture where little black goats graze behind me. Now it actually feels like summer. Banks of clouds move across the horizon, drifting eastward, and the ginkgos reflect the sun.

If I find a spot like this one, overlooking the Maas on the edge of Lith, I'll sit for quite a while, watching the boats pass, munching a tuna sandwich and cashews, looking at the cattle munching grass in the thin strip of pasture between me and the landing. Rain has fallen on and off through the day but it's mostly breezy and cool with occasional bursts of sunshine.

"Lith has gained national fame through the book by Antoon Coolen, Dorp aan de rivier (Village on the River, 1934) and the film adaptation of the book by Fons Rademakers (1958)." 

This fun fact found on an info board near Lith. It goes on to say that a Roman temple (dating from AD 100) was excavated at the Lithse Ham, a nearby section of the Maas where they dug up sand to turn it into a recreation area. The Romans built their temple upon the ruins of Celtic sacrificial sites.

Tiel to Den Bosch. This is from a "Vrienden op de Fiets" map, so each of the yellow circles represents a cycling friend, i.e. place to stay. 

The lower bank of the Maas is a great route, and a fine three-day tour could be made from Cuijk (to the east, south of Nijmegen) to Den Bosch. Another tour could be done: the Three Rivers tour, covering the Neder-Rijn, the Waal and the Maas.

I had gone as far as point 69, then realized it would take me on the circuitous route to Kerkdriel and down the west bank of the Maas as I did last time. Instead I returned to point 24 and down through the west end of the Land van Maas en Waal where there's a ferry to Lith. This is a lovely woodsy corridor, then goes gently along the east bank of the Maas through Kessel.

The wind picks up as I continue south to point 1. Tall trees with pale green leaves rustle before a lagoon carpeted with lilies. There are no cars on this route. It's totally pastoral. I've got under 12km to 's-Hertogenbosch so I'm in no hurry to get there at 2 pm. Continued ...

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