Our introduction to Holland began in Liege with a chance meeting with a true gentleman, Harry. Again we had entered Liege, coming off a tranquil river path into chaotic, rambling industry and mad road systems on a bigger scale than Charleroi. Fortunately Sunday traffic is quiet, but still pretty hairy on a laden tandem. Liege itself was promenading all its finery on a sunny Sunday afternoon as we stopped Harry on the main bridge over the river to ask for a good route to the Dutch border. He offered to cycle with us as he was returning home to Maastricht and being a historian and very well travelled cyclist it was`a fascinating afternoon in easy company.
Entering Holland from Belgium on a bicycle is like suddenly waking from a confusing dream to see that everything in your bedroom is exactly as it should be – I just love the way Holland flows.
Two years ago we had a really stressful afternoon in terrible weather conditions desperately trying to get round Maastricht but this time our introduction was to a quite different city and we were so taken that it deserved a day off (and a chance to rebuild a very sick rear wheel).
It also brought another fortuitous meeting, this time with a Swiss couple, Martin and Monika, also touring on a tandem and en route to England. Finally a fellow stoker to swap tips and tales with, and she has eight years’ more experience than me. Their generous and relaxed spirit made for great company as we pitched for a second night and their solidarity as Chris fought with broken and bent spokes the next morning was hugely appreciated by this novice stoker.