Arrived

Somehow I had to get the Strada home… Taking the train was out.

I just finished getting my Strada home. What a ride… While it is quite a good idea to spend time on a longer test ride I might have overdone it.

The last few days were the hottest we had this year. When I left Dronten the humidity was reaching unbearable levels. Not the kind of weather I really like, I prefer cool days with a little bit of light rain.
While the Quest XS that was going to be delivered that day was ready and only needed a few final adjustments before being sent on its way my Strada didn't even have its lid on nor all of its wheels mounted so I might have put some pressure on Jos to get me on my way. Whatever it was, I left Dronten with a tire pressure of between 1.2 and 1.5 bar (1 bar == 14.5037738psi) which didn't really help me to grow wings. And the Versatile roof made the humidity even less bearable.
All things considered I was going to be a slow as a dog and at least 4 hours being plan when I left and the day was hot and humid (leading up to some interesting thunderstorm later in the night) so riding with the Versatile roof felt like breathing through a wet towel.
Riding along the Houtribdijk was fun; the last time I was there I was fighting strong head winds on a recumbent and doing the same in a Strada is much more fun. I was wondering a bit why I had to work so hard at getting up to a meagre 22 km/h but I attributed it to being inexperienced (after all it was a bit different from riding an ICE Sprint). After a lot of uneventful hours riding across Noord Holland (with a few breaks to get some air) I got an opportunity for a serious test of the schuimdeksel in addition to the roof as somewhere in the dunes between De Zilk and Noordwijk all hell broke loose. Rain, wind and lighting hitting close to me (I know I should have been scared and look for cover) unlike anything I ever got into while riding a bike and I enjoyed it, even as there was sand sliding onto the bike trail.
I arrived at the Maassluis <-> Rozenburg ferry by 2:40 in the morning, late enough to have missed the last one by more than a few hours. Looking for a place to get some hours of rest (the next ferry would leave at 6:00 I didn't notice the cameras everywhere. Five minutes later the security staff appeared, wondering what I might be up to:
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm waiting for the ferry."
"There is no ferry leaving soon."
"I've noticed that already."
"So what are you going to do?"
"I'm waiting for the ferry."
They left. Knowing that there were cameras all around I rode the Strada into the middle of the area in front of the pier, put the schuimdeksel up, set the alarm clock of my phone to 5:50 plugging isolation in-ear phones into my ears and went to sleep. A completely new experience – a velomobile is a comfortable emergency bed with better sleeping conditions than anything (besides a hotel) I ever found on a brevet.
The ride down to Goes is one of the nicest parts of the trip (besides the area around Noordwijk und Katwijk) (and the Houtribdijk) even though there were no kite surfers along the Brouwersdam at the time I passed through. To the east of Goes the area was getting a bit boring until I crossed into Belgium (easily recognized by the abysmal state of the roads) a few times where bio-drempels (i. e. roots breaking through the road) and potholes can make your life more interesting than you ever wanted it to be. Even though my track was optimized for a brevet in the other direction I had to use parts of the notorious national bike route LF13 which is not really usable for a velomobile in some areas (like the stretch between Diessen and the Kanaaldijk). The Kanaaldijk itself is nicer; a smooth road leading straight ahead without lots of traffic or decisions (by now I had spent nearly 25 hours on the road interrupted by 3 hours of sleep) in the shadow of trees) but it took me only into the vicinity of Helmond where I turned south towards Deurne.
A few km down the road I was picked up by a friend who was joining me for the last part of the trip guiding me towards the destination of the first part of this ride (easy for him – he was going home 8-) ). Unlike me he was still in top condition and raced ahead of me towards Roermond where I finally got a longer break at a gas station (unlike riding a bike there is no problem to carry the provisions for days with you while riding and there is no real need to stop for eating either) which turned out to be quite necessary. Leaving the gas station I nearly acquired a new dog as some young Munsterlander liked my Strade well enough to follow me for nearly 500m, ignoring its owner completely but I was stupid enough to return it.
Exiting Roermond eastward literally means leaving the Netherlands – it's going uphill from there. Even though we had less than 20km to go, I was in for a special treat as i was finally running out of battery power on the last 3km, literally in the middle of the night (lesson learnt – I will get a second battery or always take care of fully loading it). At 1:43 we arrived at Schwalmtal, about 36 hours and 514km after I left Dronten. A snail would have passed me.
Crawling out of my bike I discovered that my circulation was frowning at me, too. Luckily I made my way towards the bathroom, found the toilet and a bit later the shower where I tried turning me into something resembling a human being after extended marinating inside the Strada. My friend showed me towards the bed his daughter had already prepared and I just fell onto the pillows and tried fainting for a while.
In the afternoon I left for the last part of the trip – a rather uneventful ride of 105 km towards Bonn which took me another six hours (still on technically flat tires I hadn't checked) to complete. The first real experience going downhill at Brühl was fascinating; a straight road of about 2,5km at a 4% decline. Yes, a Strada can be damn fast. Yes, disk brakes are reliable.Yes, I was having fun. Lots of it.
After I had left my friend he met my wife somewhere in the vicinity of Schwalmtal for an ice cream and nevertheless she arrived at home one hour before me. Even the snails were there when I finally came through the door. Such is life.

Lessons learnt: Don't hasten the mechanic. Always check your equipment yourself, even if it isn't a parachute. Take a break when you feel like, not when you have to. Don't ride a 600km brevet with brand new and untested equipment. And don't pack anything you don't need – food and water can be bought everywhere along the way (unless you're in Belgium or France)!

The next visit to my local dealer was interesting and reassuring: The seat was not screwed tightly, the linkage to the rear wheel was loose, too and the wheels needed extensive truing with a few loose spokes. The screws holding the Versatile roof will have to be cut off to avoid their cutting my legs even more (there wash quite a bit of blood spilt during the ride). Nothing broke, nothing was damaged. Quite a miracle with me usually having a major defect every 500km.

BTW: Does anybody know why there is an oversized wire frame model of a man taking a dump into the Markermeer at Lelystad? Might it be a celebration of 500 years of shitting on fishes' heads?

Lelystad, Statue (small)