Hook of Holland to Utrecht

I set off from Hook of Holland at 05h00 because the heat from the previous day continued through into the night and mercifully the morning is slightly cooler.

We follow the cycle paths that network through Holland and are very well marked. This is cycling paradise as the bicycle is the highest ranked vehicle on the road and cars stop for you as you approach intersections. The bicycle was here before the car and therefore still comes first.

After we had covered around 20 km we ride through the Westduin Park so before we leave the coast towards the Hague we decide to swim. Already there are dozens of people running, cycling and swimming and this is at 06h00. The swim is so refreshing that I am rejuvenated and can now pedal on.

Total distance for the day is only 95km but having to negotiate your way through the towns and suburbs often takes a lot more time than if you just go in a straight line. Today proves to be one of those days and there is so much to see as well.

Our first stop is in the Hague at a coffee machine company called Flex Café to beg water so that we can brew a pot at the canal. Not only does Ronald fill my bottles with ice cold water he serves us with a great cup of “real” coffee from his machine. Thank you for the kind manner in which you treated total strangers.

On we go but not too far we come across a sign offering apple tart and coffee at 2.50 euros which brings me to an immediate halt. The wonderful ladies at Aktivisie are supporting a noble project where people with brain damage caused by motor accidents can come and make goods to be sold. They recently started the coffee shop and I can vouch for their apple tart and friendly service.

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Thank you ladies for the great apple tart and of course the gifts we bought for our hosts in Utrecht.

Naturally I seldom pass a cycle shop when I see it and this was one I really liked. The manager Youri of Bikes plaza in Zoetermeer had just returned from Utrecht with a signed team photo of the Trek Factory racing team. I was amazed at how short Fabian Cancelara is having believed he was quite tall like Contador and Froome.

On we pedal and for the last 35 km we pedal along the Oude Rijn river cycle path which is mainly along the river with a few deviations through towns.

Along the path we meet this rare sight !!! And man these black swans are aggressive because ad I approach to take his photo he comes charging at me. Luckily there is a fence between us because I am told they peck so hard they can break your arm. Not so sure about that – maybe break the skin!!!

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Now we were close to Utrecht and we again had to locate our hosts but luckily they live near the centre of Utrecht and google maps delivered us to their front door.

As soon as we arrived we off loaded our panniers and went up to the railway museum where the TdF team presentation was taking place.

We were at a good position because the riders walked right psst us and in my excitement I took some really bad photos.

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Greeting Reinhardt Jansen van Rensburg with my finger over the lens in excitement. Then came the rest……..

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Naro Quintano of Movistar certainly looks ready and relaxed for the tour!

The tour fever is running high and I am soaking in the atmosphere.

Next I managed to sneak a photo of the Mtn Quebeka riders on the bus before they left. Thanks to the driver Santiago for taking it for me.

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Tomorrow I explore Utrecht…….

Eugene on a bike somewhere in the world