Their story, in their words….
“We started planning several months ahead of the trip, to sort out accommodation, transport, route etc. Unfortunately, we had a few people drop out of the group and even with two weeks to go one of the group suffered an injury that meant he could no longer join us. Nevertheless, the four of us continued with our plan.
After receiving several rejections on warm showers we finally found three places to accommodate us on our journey; near Bruges, Ghent and Eindhoven. We then found a youth hostel near the centre of Amsterdam to stay in for three nights. As for charity fundraising, we set up an account on Justgiving to raise money for Great Ormond’s Street Hospital; so far we have raised over £950.
The first got off to a shaky start; two of our team members missed the ferry (although they got a later one free of charge) meaning that we started late at 12:00pm. We therefore had to ride quite hard in order to make it to our warmshowers in time since there were 70 miles of road to cover. Against the odds, we made it at around 9:15pm and were able to get a relatively good night’s sleep.
The second day was scheduled to be a little shorter than the first, but we got an early start in preparation for any mishaps we might encounter; this proved to be a good idea seeing as we were hindered by several punctures which slowed our progress quite a bit. We were, however, able to make it to our warmshowers place with a reasonable amount of time to spare.
This day was our longest, having to ride over 80 miles to the campsite we arranged to stay at. We got off to a bad start, having to wait almost an hour to find inner tubes for a puncture after only having covered 8 miles. These episodes continued frequently, considerably slowing us down, to the point where we knew we couldn’t make it to the campsite. We hurriedly tried to arrange new warm showers accommodation, eventually finding one in Dordrecht, arriving at 10pm.
After stocking on inner tubes we set off for Amsterdam. This ride was significantly smoother, without any of us getting a puncture. Although we had ridden for 3 days straight already, the prospect of finally arriving spurred us on, stopping rarely so that we’d get there as early as possible. This paid off, entering Amsterdam at around 4pm, giving us plenty of time to walk around the city.
In our 3 nights in Amsterdam we had a lot of fun, going to several museums like the van Gogh gallery and attending a free music festival which was a highlight. Though we also enjoyed simply walking around the canals going to various shops and just experiencing the city.
Despite our fun in Amsterdam, we still had the matter of riding home to face. Fortunately, the 3 nights’ rest meant we were sufficiently recharged and ready to finish the last day of cycling. We took our time to savour the last day, taking in the scenery, which was particularly nice on the last leg on the coast. Finally, we reached the ferry terminal at 5pm and got ready to board.
We found this whole experience rewarding; the feeling of completing the trip along with the knowledge that it helped raise money for a great charity made all the planning and punctured tyres worth it.”