Day One: Apeldoorn to Elburg

Distance: 39.2km

Time: 2 hours 3 mins

Average speed: 19.1kph

Wordle scores: Captain 4, Stoker 6 (phew!)

It was a long old journey to get to the start line of this trip! We left home on Wednesday, saw six hours of Shakespeare in Stratford on Thursday, came through the Tunnel on Friday, spending a grand total of 45 minutes in France, and then drove to Mechelen in Belgium to spend our last night pre-tour. Mechelen was lovely, our hotel right by the canal in an old cigar factory. We enjoyed a drink in the Grote Markt (the first Grote Markt of many, I expect!), and then a wonderful carbonnade of beef in the Het Anker brewery’s restaurant with some of their delicious beer. The restaurant’s bread was made with yeast from the brewery!

This morning dawned sunny and warm, and we drove across the border into the Netherlands, parked the car in Apeldoorn, put the bike together, checked our many packing and “don’t forget this” lists, climbed on and set off.

And then stopped all of 200m away for lunch. Well, you can’t cycle on an empty stomach!

Finally we were packed, fuelled and ready to go, and we confidently rode off in search of our first ‘node’. Cycling in the Netherlands is brilliant, a network of cycle paths whose junctions are marked by numbered nodes. Each node point (‘knooppunt’) tells you its own number, and has arrows directing you to the next nodes in each direction along the various connecting cycle paths. You plot your routes using their clever node mapping website, and it kicks out a node list like this:

Brilliant! What could go wrong? Well, quite quickly we realised that the two Garmin devices, both of which had the visual versions of the route on, were disagreeing. Neither of them is showing the node numbers (thanks, Garmin, for that ‘enhancement’, that worked beautifully last time we cycled here!). A bit of head-scratching later we worked out what was going on and how to interpret the double route line on the Garmin’s map, and we were off.

Getting out of Apeldoorn was not especially picturesque, but we enjoyed the weather, the safe and quiet cycle paths, and even an early windmill.

We soon found ourselves arriving at Kasteel Cannenburch, which was stunning. A gorgeous building, with a moat (which always pleases the Captain immensely), a resident tortoise sunning itself by the water and scowling at all the tourists, and a pair of geese with seven tiny goslings.

After a good wander round we climbed back on the bike and carried on towards Elburg. Our navigation seemed much better after the shaky start, and we cycled on through a wonderful wooded section, lovely dappled light and a great variety of trees , including oaks, firs and beech.

At one point we stopped to make sense of a tricky junction and were ably assisted by a very helpful Dutch chap and his wife, out for a cycle themselves. There were lots of cyclists out and about today, it being Saturday. The convention here is that if you want to pass another cyclist, or just warn them of your presence behind, you do ‘one ping’ on your bell. We, however, have a horn, and even a single polite ‘parp’ is causing terror and confusion amongst our fellow cyclists. One lady nearly fell off her bike.

We’ll have to get a bell!

After just two hours in the saddle, we arrived at tonight’s lodgings, in the lovely town of Elburg. It has a defensive canal around it, and inside the water it is an absolutely gorgeous tiny town. Pictures to follow tomorrow when we’ve explored.

Here’s today’s route and a short video

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