It turns out that when you go from eating a diet consisting of minimal amounts of processed sugar and caffeine, to drinking two coffees; a coke and lots of sugar in one day, your body knows about it. Last night I had a terrible nights sleep, not only was it boiling hot but I was wired. My brain was buzzing and despite being tired from the ride, my brain wanted to stay awake. Forever. Lesson learnt: that’s why you stay away from coke, kids.
Despite the lack of sleep, Bikey and I had an early start. The heat after 11am is just unbearable, so I wanted to put as many miles in as possible before then. That meant making breakfast (two courses consisting of melon and yoghurt then chocolate porridge) and packing up Bikey and heading on our way by 0620.
The difference the weather makes is incredible. It was so lovely out cycling at that time in the morning. It was still shorts and T-shirt weather, but it wasn’t the sweat inducing heat that the midday sun brings. Tonight however, we all need to say a small but collective prayer to the weather Gods – less headwind, more tailwind please. Thank you. 13mph feels like hard work right now.
My plan was to arrive in Eindhoven around 0830, ready for a coffee and my second breakfast of the day. After a couple of hours riding into a headwind, I was looking forward to my stop and imagining myself sat outside a pretty cafe, feeling smug that I’d already covered 25 miles. However, as I rode into Eindhoven it all looked pretty quiet. Too quiet for my liking. Nowhere was open! Cafe after cafe, all shut up or just opening up for the day. Disappointed that I was too early, I carried on my route which took me down the side of a river. It was really pretty so as soon as I found a bench, I pulled over and ate my pre-packed second breakfast (more yoghurt and granola).
It is well documented that I do love the Dutch and their town planning abilities, but I would like to offer one small improvement. If anyone from the Dutch authorities are reading this, speaking on behalf of all users of your wonderful cycle paths, please can you add in more benches along your routes. The cycle paths just keep going and the one I was following along the river was great, but impossible to stop on unless there is a designated spot. Of which there are not many.
After about 40 miles, I cycled through a cute Dutch town called Lierop and did stop for that coffee I was dreaming about 15 miles earlier. From then on it became an ever losing battle with the heat. It gets to about 11am and then it just gets hotter and hotter and hotter. You notice it on the bike due to the profuse level of sweating but you notice it far more when you stop. Even waiting at traffic lights becomes painful.
The last 12 or so miles of today’s ride were hard. No two ways about it. It was about 1pm, so plus 30 degree heat; there was a headwind; and I was starting to feel sick. I wasn’t sure if the sickness was related to the heat or my water, but all I knew was that I was ready for Roermond to appear!
I did finally make it around 2pm, which was excellent compared to yesterday; recovery is such a huge part of long distance cycling. I checked into the hotel and the receptionist informed me that if I went outside the hotel, turned left and pressed the buzzer, she would let me through to the car park and there was a room I could leave Bikey. Sorry, what? She thinks I’m leaving Bikey alone in a room attached to a car park? Hmmm.
I went to check out this room with Bikey, just to see if it was safe. She buzzed me round and then I saw her disappear off into the restaurant. I looked around for said room but couldn’t find anything. There was a corridor leading back into the hotel though, and the door at the end was open. I thought “Now’s our chance, Bikey to get you upstairs with me”. I slowly walked back into the hotel, trying not to make that annoying clip clop sound that cyclists often make and eyed the lift. I dashed across the lobby and wheeled Bikey straight into the lift. Bingo. Despite it being such a bike loving nation, they seem to hate the idea of you keeping your bike in your bedroom. Safety first, people.
It was then an afternoon and evening of recovery for me. I tried to take a look around Roermond but to be honest, I’m tired so I just stocked up on water and supplies and headed back to my room to rest my legs.
Big day for Bikey and I tomorrow: we are crossing borders. Germany here we come!
186 miles down…824 miles to go!