Cycling to Amsterdam

Team JGillian at the finish line
Team JGillian at the finish line

London to Amsterdam – three days by bike and one day to return by minibus;  an amazing experience.  Fifteen riders – veterans of the Dragon Ride, London to Amsterdam in 24 hours and even Lands End to John O’Groats in five days.  Age range, 26 to late fifties. Ratio of men to women 4:1.  Ability range – experienced MAMILs to nervous novice.

What did I learn?

A spoonful of……..salt cures cramp almost instantaneously.  One of the team had to be extracted from his bike after Shooters Hill suffering from extreme cramp in both calves. Knock Knock at a nearby house – “Could we have a spoonful of salt”  “I’ll see if we’ve got some”????.  But presumably we didn’t look too dangerous and the lovely lady came out with salt and a glass of orange juice.  Instant relief.

To check my tyres.  On Friday evening, 18 hours after leaving home I heard the chaps talking about deflating their tyres and checking for stones in the rubber.  They’ve got to be joking I thought, but the next morning found me doing just that and finding lots of little pieces of flint and grit which would have probably caused a puncture later in the day.

How to adjust the gears – the rear ones anyway.  “Adjusting rear derailleurs is Science,  adjusting the front ones is Art”

Riding in a peloton saves so much energy and you get to talk to the person next to you.

There’s nothing you can do about the weather, but I will be buying some waterproof overshoes and my own ‘arms’ to keep me warm.  Kevlar tyres are on my wish list as well  – to help prevent punctures.  I was also told that I need a new helmet – mine is so retro (ancient) it has probably lost some of its strength in the sunlight.

I’ve heard the expression ‘herding cats’ – well cyclists are even worse.  Allow at least an extra hour to get out in the morning.

I’ve driven a lot in the Netherlands, along their coastline, across their amazing flood defences and around their immaculate villages and towns.  But on a bike experiencing the wind on your skin, the smells of the farmyard and the kitchen, and the light and temperature untempered by the confines of the car, makes the journey an adventure in itself.

Would I do it again?  Yes, but different.

I wouldn’t do the bit to the Channel – for the most part that’s no fun.  Not the hills, but the traffic and the lack of provision for cyclists.

I don’t need to prove myself by doing more than 100 miles a day, so I’d do it slower.  Then I could stop and enjoy the scenery, take more photographs and eat more cake – thirty miles in the morning, a nice lunch, then 30 more miles in the afternoon.  Shower, change, pre-prandial drink and a good supper.  I don’t want to see another energy bar for a long time.

I am very grateful to everyone who has so generously sponsored meAt the time of writing, donations for the two charities total more than £3,500 including the extra from the taxman as Gift Aid.  Your support kept me going when I was negotiating the London traffic, climbing the hills in Kent, and riding in the dark.  Thank you so much.

If anyone would still like to add to this total, there is still time.
Go to  for Plant Heritage or for MND

I’ll be back with plant related posts next week.  I’m doing a propagation day with Marina Christopher next Wednesday.

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  1. Pingback: ibc2ibc – London to Amsterdam in 24 Hours » Blog Archive » The Journey from one of the riders

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