Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Planes, Trains & Automobiles!!!

Well on Monday 6 of us left London & cycled to Dover in some truly miserable weather.  It started badly when as we went to pull away Dave had a flat tyre, not to worry that was quickly repaired.  Up & over that awful hill at Wrotham & onto the nice descent towards Maidstone, again no drama's.  We stopped at the transport cafe just shy of Ashford for a bacon sandwich & off again.  My how the rain came down & sadly Dave had another puncture.  This was mended & it was plain sailing to Dover.

We boarded the ferry to travel across to Dunkirk & as we went onto the car deck, I heard this noise from behind me to see Rae skidding across the deck on his arse. Car decks on ferries are sheets of metal covered in paint.  Not a good mix for thin wet cycling tyres at 110psi!!

No damage done, apart from a little hurt pride & we were off to Ghent, cycling through France into Belgium with wonderful flat roads.  All had purpose built cycle paths next to them & if the weather had been kinder it would have been a happier affair.

Rae did well, not falling off again until we stopped in a little Belgium village for a well needed hot chocolate to warm ourselves up with.  He hit his front brake on some parve & it was good night Vienna for him again.  Good news again no injury & we hardly mentioned it too him again.... much!!

A coffee stop in Belgium

Adam at John Frostbrug, which for me was a bridge too far!!!

It was then a very wet & cold ride to Ghent.  Nice hotel, good meal & a good nights sleep.  We had cycled about 155 miles

Day 2 was kinder towards us weather wise, no rain & no strong headwinds.  The plan was for 160 miles on day 2 & quite frankly after about 80 I dropped out & got in the van, I wasn't up to it.  However before I became the map reader as we went through Antwerp Dave had the best 'off' of the tour.  He of course blames the tramlines & he almost recovered it.  It was like a hop skip & jump of the fall, again fortunately no injury of any note.

We made our destination around 11pm in Arnhem, a few well deserved beers & then bed.  We were looking forward to a leisurely breakfast & then getting the train to Brussels & then the Eurostar home.  Well that was plan 'A'.  Just happened to catch the Dutch TV news channel & although I couldn't understand what they were saying,  worked out that the Belgium's were on strike & there were no trains..... Plan 'B' then.  Our day went from bad to worse!!  Adam had left by this time with the bikes in the back of his van

Plan 'A' - Train to Brussels & then the Eurostar 

Plan 'B' - Train to Lille & then the Eurostar home..... Belgium isn't a big country until you have to try & work a way round it by train. Would have meant getting a train to Germany & then Switzerland & I think Spain was even mentioned??!!!

Plan 'C' - Hire a car, drive to Lille & get the Eurostar home - Spoke to Herts & yes they had a 5 seater car & yes we could leave it at Lille station.  Fantastic we were in business.  Got the bus to Arnhem & found the hire company.  Booked the car & just about to sign the agreement, when I thought hang on the Dutch don't use Guilders anymore & that can't be the price in Euros.  They wanted €750 to leave the car in France.............. I was lost for words

Plan 'D' - Right we'll get a train to the Hook of Holland & get the ferry to Harwich & then a train into London.  Got the Soup Dragon to check the last train times from Harwich back to London & we doubted we would be back in time as the crossing takes 7 hours.

Still laughing at our situation!

Plan 'E' - Buy a second hand car & just leave it at Lille?

Plan 'F' - Buy bikes & cycle to Lille (Yes we actually thought of that)

Plan 'G' - Get a train to the edge of the Belgium boarder & wait until 10pm when the trains started to run again & have a shandy or 2?!

Plan 'H' - Book into a hotel & stay an extra night

Plan 'I' - Get a cab.... silly would be so expensive!

Plan 'J' - Train to Schiphol airport & fly back, a quick check on the iphone & it would be about £75 each.  

So we merrily jumped on the train to Schiphol Airport & went to the British Airways desk & tried to book the tickets for £75.  Needless to say they wanted to charge us over €350 each..... thieving bar-stewards

Plan 'K' - We went to the KLM desk & managed to get the flights for €200 each & had a very pleasant flight back to Blighty

I got the DLR to Woolwich & then a bus home

I think over the past 2 days with the exception of a helicopter & a submarine we have done all forms of transport!!!

We did laugh about it all day though & certainly cheered a few people up with our tails of woe!!

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