Day 20: Along the Canals into the headwinds – Utrecht

Sorry if the last post was a bit underwhelming in terms of positivity. Today has been better, but has been mainly been fairly pleasant cycling.

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The day started off early – I am getting used to these early starts slowly. I packed up and was ready to go after getting into some Yorkshire Tea. I had become a bit dis-orientated with my location travelling during dusk, and finding signs towards Utrecht was difficult. Usually, cycle ways are well sign posted, but they have been difficult this time. Some signs fail to tell which way to go at a ‘T’ junction and I have barely seen any route maps. After going the wrong way a local pointed me in the right direction and gave me a pat on the back and ‘good luck’.

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Much of the way from Abcoude, was along a railway line and then onto a long stretch of canal that led directly towards Utrecht. Most of the way was quite exposed. The wind had become a ferocious one from the East – just my luck. Despite, this it was fairly easy going and was fairly enjoyable for most of the way towards Utrecht. Much of the canal is lined with an infinite number of trees leading into the distance. A barge beside me following me at the same pace; it reminded me of cat and mouse.

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The last bit into Utrecht was windy. I decided to roll up the canopy. Having checked today the winds were around 20mph. It had become that strong, that it nearly lifted the carpet I had stuck down. Fixed with some duct-tape. Leaving the rickshaw parked, the wind was that strong it was pushing it backwards.

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Nevertheless I kept pushing on, despite the many anglers who looked perplexed at the sight of a tired cyclist pushing a rickshaw down the side of them. It was a slow but consistent 6 mph (10kmh). It was slow but it was pleasing to get towards Utrecht.

I had been frustrated that many other cyclists failed to acknowledge me and just sped by; the only one that did, said it was “good training” but I’m not training for anything. The usual flail of the hand or discrete nod, would be appreciated, perhaps this is dutch cycling etiquette?

I arrived in Utrecht. I bought myself a baguette from a Turkish baker – multi-cultarilism. To be fair, it was a darn good crunchy baguette, and haven’t had one like that for ages. He even topped my water bottle up without a sigh.

In the center, it was as pleasant as I rememered it. A contorted mix of canals, bridges and cobbles, filled with bicycles and people basking with their drinks in the sun.

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There was a film fesitval but having asked one of their representatives what it was for. As soon as I said I was from the UK he fobbed me off and said enjoy your journey. I finished my dinner and moved to a Mc Donalds. A women hailed me over. She said she me earlier, and said it was a fantastic idea. It came as a big suprise although I will admit I felt rather dispondent and what I said had an essence of that. Nevertheless, I explained what I was doing and I said she could have a ride. I took her briefly around the centre. It was nice to have company.

It’s something that can pick up your spirit. I returned back and said my farewells. She was visiting Utrecht so I had to make up the directions as I went along.

In Mc Donalds, I used their wifi and power literally for free – I didn’t want to pay for a coffee for quite tempremental internet, which retrospectively was slow. I pushed some more updates and decided to get on my way towards Arnhem and find a nice place to camp. I decided to turn down an offer from a Warmshowers host, simply because it wasn’t practical.

The wind was strong but atleast the sun was shining. The further east I went the more trees encroached around the road and eventually the forest engulfed the road. It was fairly spectacular to ride through. I had been this way before, but during early spring when the trees were bare. It was a suprising change.

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I was fortunate to find a supermarket that remained open for another 30 minutes – a Sunday. I filled the basket as much of the food was especially cheaper compared to Lidls. Even after a substantial list of items it came to around 6 euros. It would nourish me for the next day.

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I carried on a bit longer and found a forested area to settle or the night. I cooked up a storm – tomato, bacon and pasta which suprisingly tasted well without seasoning.

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Having filled myself, I’m settling in a small clearing surrounded by many pine trees. For once it’s good to wild camp in fairly spectacular scenery like this!