Johnny W
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Practicalities, Errors, Successes & Reasons

Johnny W
Posted by
28 Apr 2014

A note for posterity to help the next idiot who plans to cycle to Amsterdam!

Hi all,

This isn't an update really. It's just some notes, some thoughts, and some advice in case in the future someone else tries to plan a trip like this!

If that someone is you, and you have any more questions then the cycle team at LLR are really helpful, and can also put you in touch with me direct if I can help at all!

The Plan

Cycle to Amsterdam from Central London over two days, using the ferry crossing at Harwich and returning by train.

Kit and People

There were seven of us, riding our normal commuting/recreational bikes. I rode a Scott Hybrid with front suspension, and there were also a selection of road bikes.

We're all experienced cyclists, six of us commuting to work each day, but none of us had really taken part in a challenge over two days like this. The furthest I'd cycled was on LLR's bikeathon, and I'd covered about 60 miles that day. Other people had ridden to Brighton, or around the Surrey Hills.


We were planning to use this route:

We were lucky and ended up with a support vehicle driving the English part of the route with us. They took our bags, bananas, lucozade and water and met up with us every twenty miles or so - and obviously were available with proper tools in case we had any accidents. We didn't - LUCKILY!

Having a support vehicle was amazing. It helped keep spirits up, gave us a target to stop at (20 miles really felt about right) If you don't have such a vehicle option, I'd really reccommend the bare minimum on your back. In holland we all had a change of normal clothes (non-lycra) as well as supplies, and the difference was massive.

We tried to set off with a bit of London knowledge and GPS in one of the chaps earphones, but soon mounted an iPhone onto handlebars and used GPS with a screen via Google Maps. What we learnt here was:

a) an iPhone 4 is smaller than an iPhone 5 handlebar mount

b) even if it feels secure you bump around a lot cycling in London

c) iPhone 4s' do not like being run over by a Stag on a Hybrid bike

After the incident we taped the phones into the mount, even when we used an iPhone 5. Safety first!

I can't stress enough here how much battery you use up cycling with an iPhone. I used up mine, and my backup battery, and two more people's batteries just getting to Harwich. In fact, in Harwich, we ran out entirely of phones. You can pick up backup batteries pretty cheap, and they're no heavier than a phone, so I'd say take at least one more than you think you'll need at your most pessismistic! Oh, and unlimited data.

We later mounted a backup battery to someone's crossbar using electrical tape and cable ties, which extended the life of the phone by a lot without having to stop. That was pretty nifty!

We crossed from Harwich using a Stena Line ferry at 23:15. We arrived into Harwich at about 5:30, but the ferry port is nowhere near the town. And the town isn't pleasant. I'm sorry if you live there. Really sorry!

There really didn't seem anywhere at all in Harwich where we could grab dinner, beyond a premier inn right by the ferry terminal (which we eventually found) so we ate there! After 80 miles, a premier inn meal felt AMAZING!

You can check into the boat from about 21:00, and I'd reccommend doing that - you're going to lose an hour's sleep in time difference, and the rooms are basic, but the showers are immense! If you cross overnight you will have to book a cabin. They're alright, imagine a massive, floating travelodge!

At 6:30 the next day (that's 5:30 british time) you're woken by an irritatingly cheerful call on the ship's tannoy. If you're especially lucky, they'll even play you "Don't Worry, Be Happy" to get your day off to a horrid start.

We ate on the boat. This was never our original plan, thinking we'd find a nice cafe in the port, but we changed our minds after seeing Harwich, and weather reports that we would be hitting a massive storm mid morning in Holland. The breakfast was €15, but it was actually very good. And the coffee was a lifesaver!

We were probably the last people off the ferry at about 7:45



Holland is brilliant. And amazing. And brilliant. One of our team was on EE and could use unlimited 3G data for £4.99/day so I'd reccommend that, even if only for getting out of the Hook of Holland!

We had intended to use the Noordzeeroot (North Sea Route) which is a cycle path along the sea. It's a bit further, but sounded idyllic. Somehow we didn't use this the whole way; but it doesn't matter. Coming from Britain, even cycling through a town centre in Holland feels SO GOOD. They've got cycle paths, proper cycle paths not just some paint everywhere.

We use a bit of the sea route in an area which was very duney; it slowed us up, but was definitely the most hill we achieved in the whole of the Netherlands. And it was gorgeous.

We stopped every  ninety minutes, and also whenever people's bums hurt too much! We weren't in any sort of competition, so it just made sense to take our time.