Pete writing tonight…
Today was our final ride for this trip. We are really sad to be finished, but very grateful for the experiences of the last 3 weeks.
We changed our route last minute to give us some extra miles along the coast. Months ago, when I planned the route, I wasn’t sure if we’d be tired and want an easy day or if we’d be getting strong, so Rotterdam was chosen because it had a short direct route back to Amsterdam if needed, but also offered the option of a longer scenic route as well. Turns out we didn’t need the shorter escape valve.
Our route took us west to the Atlantic coast, which we then followed north until we were at the same latitude as Amsterdam, and then we rode east to Amsterdam. The route was 70 miles.
The trip started with a pair of brutal rain storms which forced us into the trees for cover. Even with the trees blocking the brunt of the rain we still became soaked. Between storms we saw what we thought was a cruise ship (turned out to be a huge ferry to England – silly us). We were sad for everyone onboard because they didn’t get to get soaked riding in the rain.
After the second storm the weather held for rest of our ride. We went through several beach towns where we were reminded again and again that Europeans don’t go to the bathroom very often. Even the pay toilet we found got in on the fun and denied us entry after the fee had been paid. It seemed to fit in with the rest of the experience.
We rolled into Amsterdam in the middle of rush hour, grateful for its abundance of cycle paths. This is a country that thinks bike first and car second.
Our accomodations tonight are nice and very close to the airport. Tomorrow we will ride our bike 4 miles to the airport, box it up, put in overnight storage, and head into Amsterdam for a day of sightseeing. Then we go home on Thursday. We are excited to see family and friends again, but we are going to really miss the pace of life we’ve established over the last 3 weeks.
We’ve learned a lot about bike touring logistics. We learned about the countries and cultures we visited. But mostly we learned a lot about ourselves and each other. We’ve spent more time together over the last 3 weeks than any other 3-week period of our lives. It has been fun to work together, to get lost together, to struggle up steep hills together (well, maybe not), and to accomplish this trip together. After 930 miles we not only still like each other, but we like each other more than when we started (except for that little hill incident approaching Calais). We made new friends and strengthened our most important friendship. This trip warrants a sequel next year.