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My cycle ride from Holland to Paris.

As follows are some aspects and tips relating to my completed cycle ride that could potentially be of interest to cyclists wishing to undertake the ride.

Good planning beforehand is essential and the Benjaminse Route I found to be invaluable. I am based in Holland and my approach to doing the ride was perhaps somewhat unorthodox.

Firstly, I chose to do the ride on my rusty old town bike with only three gears.

Secondly, other than doing shopping trips and such like, I was not an avid cyclist and only trained for two weeks before the planned cycle ride. Thus, fitness does help but is not essential if one plans on cycling leisurely.

Thirdly, not wanting to have a display stand on the bike handlebars for displaying the route map as many others have, I spent time beforehand noting down the main route from Paul Benjaminse’s route book with towns and distances listed. This was noted on a sheet of firm paper that folded down to a size that I was able to remove from the pocket of my body warmer at any given time. I cycled in warm August and the entire trip I wore a thin body warmer over a t shirt or other sports shirt. In my body warmer pockets I had peanuts, dried fruit and dextrose sweets, all of which were very welcome. I also carried water with me at all times in my bike’s saddle bag and also had a raincoat at the ready in one of the two saddle bags. While distances between all towns and cities were listed, I mostly watched out for signs between larger towns as that saved time. The Benjaminse route book was in my saddle bag, in case needed. As I recall, my total distance by bike should have been 650 kms while the total ridden was approximately 700 kms. The reason for doing more kms was due to doing unnecessary kms., having listened to inaccurate advice of others en route !

On my first day I covered 140kms, the second day 112kms, the third day I covered 150kms. The total time taken to cycle the 700kms was six and half days while some rest days were taken between.

I found the cycle route markers in Holland and Belgium very good while France was somewhat less and more focus is needed while cycling in France. Cycle paths in Paris were very good.

Some pointers to note:
It’s important to watch carefully for route markers as they could be high up on a pole on a street corner or in the centre of a town/city block, or at times hidden behind a tree branch but overall is easily spotted. Signs in France can be confusing at cross roads etc. and must be carefully watched for and understood. A sign may appear to refer to a “left turn” while it means continue straight on.

Have a suitable map available in case of losing your way.

Have a list of commonly used words in Dutch and French that could be needed while travelling viz. words like left, right, up, down, cycle path/road, shop, water etc.

Avoid where possible taking advice from the public of a route that you rather should travel. Logically also avoid highways. The Benjaminse Route has carefully been planned to take you on roads best suited toward cycling upon, albeit it times that the route seems strange!

When cycling through cities, watch carefully for route markers as signs with route markers missed can cause confusion and an unnecessary loss of time!


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