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Holland - Germany - Denmark 1998

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Frank wired for sound
- modelling our intercom system

In the summer we decided to go on another cycle tour in Europe. In fact it turned into quite an epic journey, taking us 930 miles across Holland, Germany and Denmark. We caught the HSS ferry from Harwich to the Hoek of Holland, cycling NE across Holland to reach the German border at Sellingen, NE of Emmen. Much to Frank's surprise we completed this in a week!. We continued NE through Oldenburg, crossing the Wesser just South of Bremerhaven. Just when we thought things were going really well, we had one of those epic days, which turned out to be the precursor for several more!! The day in question was planned to be a standard 40 mile day from Brake to Osten. It started with an emergency waterproof drill in a torrential shower, which was the first of many torrential downpours during the day. By the time we reached Osten we were tired, wet and hungry and ready to crawl into our tent. Only to find that the campsite marked on the map didn't exist, neither did the one back at Hemmoor ! By this time we had cycled about 50 miles the weather hadn't improved at all, in fact the showers had now turned into persistent torrential rain. We had no choice but to press on to Krautsand 20 miles away, the next nearest campsite.

However, if this wasn't bad enough JH managed to get a puncture! (Not popular!!) Especially as it it was persisting down and a helpful farmer added insult to injury by covering us liberally with cow muck as he sprayed the adjoining field, while Jonathan wrestled with the puncture!. We weren't surprised to be sent to the furthest end of the campsite when we finally completed our 70 mile day. We managed to cross Germany in another week much again to Frank's even greater surprise!.

It was when we reached the Danish border that our troubles really began. We made the fatal mistake of following a Danish cycle route, thinking they would be as cycle touring friendly as the Dutch and German ones had been. How wrong can you get! This one turned out to be the equivalent of an extreme mountain bike route and with fully laden panniers it proved to be a tad difficult! So much so that Frank managed to break her chain trying to negotiate a 1 : 3 incline, bending the rear deraillier hanger and rendering the bike unridable in the process.

 

Fortunately we were only 1 mile from the campsite. We took two days to get the bike repaired having to travel back to Germany on a local ferry to get the repairs done. Meanwhile Jonathan had started grundling, well at least his bike had!

It was only a few days later that it became apparent that we urgently need to find another bike repair establishment, this time to replace Jonathan's broken back axle. It was as we were wheeling our bikes out of the repair shop that Frank managed to sustain our second puncture!!

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Jonathan with Frank's chainless bike
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Jonathan making friends with the locals
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A traditional House on Fano island

Two more punctures followed in quick succession then a wobble appeared which rapidly deteriorated into another grundle and our final encounter with a repair shop to replace another broken back axle, this time Frank's bike!!

We finished off our holiday at the Tønder Festival to hear Runrig play. It was quite a funny experience. Jonathan had booked the tickets by 'phone from England before we had left for our holiday and had asked if we could pick up the tickets at the festival. Not as straight forward as it seems as the guy on the phone spoke very little English and Jonathan knew next to no Danish, but after several attempts to spell our name and address the chap said he'd got it all down. So we left England and cycled our way to Tønder. It was when we went to collect the tickets that we started to get worried. The ticket office could find no reference to anyone called 'Houseago' or even anything vaguely like it. Out came an enormous pile of computer printout to try and locate us by scanning down pages of names and checking the country beside them in case it had been spelt wrongly.

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Early morning start in Holland

After 900 miles and all our exploits this could have been the one to top them all, but at Frank's immortal words "We've cycled all this way Jonathan and there's no record of us" brought a gasp of awed admiration and recognition from the guy in the ticket office! - "you're Jonathan, Jonathan from UK" he said, and proceeded to go to the top of the pile of computer printout and pointed to the very first name on the list - "Jonathan UK" was all it said under name and address! Our luck was in and we had a great night at the gig.

It must be said that despite our bike difficulties and the fright at Tønder, our time in Denmark was brilliant, it is such a lovely country, the people are so friendly and helpful. The scenery is lovely and we visited some beautiful places, notably Ribe, Romo and Fano. Things couldn't have been that bad as we're thinking of going back for another tour!

If you are interested in the route that we took, the times and distances travelled, these can be viewed on the Statistics page.