We are writing this Sunday morning as we ride in a train headed for Eindhoven to attend church with my niece Holly who is finishing 18 months as a missionary here. We are excited to see her. We are so grateful to a couple of locals who helped us navigate public transportation, as the train station in Zwolle is being repaired, which necessitated a slightly more involved bus transit to t’Harde where we caught our first of two trains. There was one especially helpful college student who basically had us follow her as we hustled between buses and trains. With her help we were able to just make each connection within minutes of departure. We woke up around 5 am to make sure we’d be early for our first connection, leaving the house around 6. We are grateful we were conservative with our travel estimates, or we wouldn’t have been successful this morning.

Yesterday’s ride (Saturday) was far more relaxing than Friday’s ride. We only had 50 miles to make it to Zwolle, which I semi arbitrarily selected as our destination due to its proximity to public transportation. In hindsight, t’Harde would have been a better choice, but by the time I realized that I had already arranged an Airbnb, so we made Zwolle work.

Friday night’s hotel was the best yet. We slept past 8 AM, which never happens for us. I think the air conditioning, firm bed, and blackout curtains all contributed. I think we could have stayed there another couple of days. The hotel had a massive breakfast buffet, which we took advantage of. I went for another soak in pool while Natalie caught up on email and Instagram. We started riding at about 11 AM, headed for Nijeveen, the town where our bike was built.

Most of the riding was on trails. We rode through a national forest, which was beautiful. The trees and bike path were exceptional, and there were no hills! We love the tidy Dutch homes, architecture, yards, and gardens.

We arrived in Nijeveen a little before 3 PM and met Monique, the woman partner in the company that made our bike. Nijeveen is a small town. We didn’t notice any business other than the bike shop where our bike was created. It was just starting to rain and we were able to get us and our bike out of the weather for an hour while we visited with Monique and two of her friends. It was great to see where it was created and see so many of its siblings. :-)

We put on our wet weather gear and left for Zwolle in the rain. It wasn’t a downpour, but wet enough to make us grateful for better waterproofing than we had 2 years ago. The cobblestone streets seemed a bit slippery so we rode a bit more carefully, making it to our Airbnb around 6 pm. This accommodation was a bit different than others on this trip, as it is a room in the upper floor of the home of a young family. The hostess was exceptionally kind and accommodating, but we felt like we needed to walk extra quietly and kind of disappear into our room. We had misread the listing and were expecting to be able to cook dinner in home, but it was just a room, so we ended up buying salad and fruit. We were able to use her washing machine – and after a week of riding with only 4 changes of ride clothes, our clothes and noses needed it!

We are sad that our trip is drawing to a close. We have loved being here. We are starting to talk about next year. We are considering a rails-to-trails ride in the US or another trip to Europe. We are considering altering our approach to be more trail-focused and less destination focused. This far our routes have been determined by where we want to go. We are intrigued by the idea of having our focus be on the trail itself. Instead of riding beautiful trails for segments of our ride and filling in the gaps with streets and roads, we would commit to a trail, leaving it only when we need food or someplace to sleep.

We are happy.

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