1998-07-08 The first kilometers

We followed a longdistancecycle route: the LF4 which runs Enschede to the Hague. After a kilometer of 40 it was time to search for a campsite, the map told us there was one at Barchem, very close to the route: our goal was set for today. Then: pfssst, the first flat tire, just a little puncture in brand new anti-flat-tire. The problem was easily fixed and the campsite was reached at 18:30. The camp site seamed a disaster: lots of (german) caravans, a campshop, and all of that stuff, but there was also a small field for "normal" campers like us. After putting up our tent, it was time to preprare our first meal. Being used to eight burners at home cooking here was something else, but we managed to make some nasi. Then it was showertime, and what kind of a shower: a large free bathroom for each of us was available: a luxury we had not expected. And then at least: bedtime, the first day was over: we hadn't come far, but we were on our way.
Enschede - Barchem

1998-07-09 The day after the day before

Because of all the fuss around getting away we decided not to set the wake alarm, this resulted in sleeping to 10:30. After the morning ritual we returned to LF4 and followed it futher. The route took us along the dikes of the ijssel, the nederrijn, the pannerdense kanaal and the rijn. Usualy a lovely trip, but weather wasn't on our site: it was like continuously cycling through clouds and there was a permanent headwind. Cycling in the Netherlands is not always nice. To get to our next campsite we had to cross the rijn near Millingen aan de Rijn, there is a small bicycle boot there, but of course next was due to run in half an hour. When we finally got to the other site the first spareparts where bought: the chain of my bike made a lot of noise, so a new one was bought and installed. The campsite was nice this time: an small campsite near the village of Millingen aan de Rijn. The eveningprocedure took form: building a tent, cooking, washing the dishes, repairing and checking to the bikes, showering, a last cup of coffee and then to bed.
Barchem - Millingen aan de Rijn

1998-07-10 The thirth day

This was to be the first serious day. And it was: after a few kilometer we had to climb in the village of Berg en Dal( trans.: Hill and Valley), not a long but very steep with cold legs. After this climb the LF3 (the LF4 ended in Millingen aan de Rijn, the LF3 started there) lead through the beautifull woods of the Mookerhei. Going down the first speed limits where broken: 35 km/h! But the road turned into a sandway with lots of holes. The bikes and we didn'yt bother, but one of my rear panniers did: it fall off. This first was to be the first of many. The weather had even gone worse: it rained now and then, but the headwind was somewhat less and we had tasted speed. So when the roads became normal again, we sped with about 30 km/h along the Maas. This part of the was very divers: woods, open land, the river and small towns followed each other quickly. After about a hunderd kilometer a campsite was found, worse then the first one, but with a special hikerfield.
Millingen aan de Rijn - Asselt

1998-07-11 The first hills

Today we started out to go to the very south of the Netherlands: Maastricht. Johan had moved to that city just before we left: a great opportunity to leave some stuff there and pick some forgotten stuff. The weather was a bit better and we enjoyed the trip, along the Maas again. Once arrived at Maastricht it was only four o'clock, so we decided to go futher, after some shopping. After Maastricht the first hills began, very short, but steep. Around six we arrived at a a good, but very expensive campsite near the village of Noorbeek.
Asselt - Noorbeek

1998-07-12 Belgium

On the fifth day we entered the country fo our southern neighbours: Belgium. This was our first full day with hills: we would climb the Baraque Michel, the highest "mountain" is Belgium. The trip to the baraque led us over the, for people know with cycling in the ardens, infamous cobble stones and gate of Clermont. After a cup of coffee in Jalhay the climb began 13.5 km 3-5 % uphill, killing if it is your first real climb with luggage on your bike. Once at the top there was some great soup with chips in the local restaurant there. Our bikes appeared to atract people, lots of people stand look at them, while there are frequently cyclist upthere. The next 20 km where gone before noticed: down and some up/down roads. Around three we entered a little Wooroad and we saw the first holiday sun: the Ardennes looked much better that way. Encouraged by the scenery and a better map, the roads became smaller all the way. At time we came at Oudler we rode a carttrack going uphill about 12%. We entered Luxembourg by this obsure road. After cycling through Belgium in one day it was time for a campsite. We found one in Weiswampach. It was the evening of the final of the world championship soccer so we had a quiet evening. The campsite it self was OK. Situated at a small lake, no permanent caravans and some shadow. We had survived the belguim roads en route signs without any problems.
Noorbeek - Weiswampach

1998-07-13 Rain

When we awoke there was rain ticking on the tent, oh uh. Indeed it rained and the sky didn't look like it wa going to stop soon. But we packed anyway and started out for a wet trip through Luxemburg. The road to Clervaux was good, going a bit down and the speed rose to 30 km/h and Clervaux was reached soon, here the weather seemed to be better: it had stopped raining. But as soon as we left Clervaux our hopes were destroyed, the rain came back. And to complete the disaster there and a "deviation", so we had to climb out of the valley and take a large detour. Once above I had to change the map and needed a dry place, so I drove into a bus stop, Johan came aside me and we had a bus stop filled with bike. After descending into the valley again it was time to lunch, but we didn't have a lot of bread left. Happily there was a camp-site with shop, which had some kind of toast. We picked a bus stop at the station and lunched cold, but dry. After lunch we had to climb out the valley on the other side, and cycled the wrong way, resulting in a longer climb and an larger road, but there was also a supermarket. We bought lots of stuff for the coming two days and set out along the N7 a large road. Wanting to get off this we changed the route to a valley more to the east and drove with nice speeds again down to the valley of the ??.We decided to stop early and made camp along the ??. The campsite was horrible, except for the places. There was a restaurant, snackbar, shop and loudspeaker system, and the most horrible thing: everybody spoke dutch... When we started to build our tent, the sun started to shine. The next day was to be the best day concerning the weather we decided to stay anonther night and do the laundry.
Weiswampach - Gilsdorf

1998-07-14 Doing the laundry

The laundry it self was no problem, everything was dirty. So we did a long, old-fashioned handwash. But drying such an amount of clothes was more difficult. We had almost no lines. But there was a large wooden fence along the campsite. We hung our stuff over this fence without pegs and with wind at that moment, that was not handy. Clothes flew off the fence from time to time and so we had to do some active drying... But after 4 hours and two showers of rain our wash was dry. We spend the rest of the day enjoying our rest.
Gilsdorf

1998-07-15 Three countries

Today we would reach France. The route followed nice little roads and made good progress. Some time after lunch we reached the valley of the moezel and we had to descend. This was somewhat tricky as the hill was rather steep - guess: 35% -. So this was a great test for our brakes, because the downhill parts were only 50 metres at a time. At the foot was the village of Schengen, yes the famous one. Not interrested in politics at that moment we crossed a bridge and entered Germany without anything like a costumcheck. Germany was only to last a kilometer or so as Schengen is a threecountrypoint. So for the forst time we cyclied in France, along the moezel and following a real bike-route. After a while we left the river for a campsite in Buding. But when we arraved at Buding there was no sign of a campsite. And an dark expectation was confirmed by some locals: the campsite was abandoned three years ago. But there was a campsite a couple of kilometers away at Volstroff. So after having understood the shortcut the locals told us we wend there. This campsite was indeed not closed and we make our camp there, but the ground wasn't grass. It was made for caravans and existed mainly of gravell. The people at the site were meanly labourers from Metz and not used to being nice and quiet. But it had been a long day so sleeping wasn't a problem.
Gilsdorf - Volstrof

1998-07-16 North france

The landscape didn't change in respect with the end of yesterday. Hills covered with woods and meddows. The sky was gray so the views were nice but not splendid. To do some shopping we had to go to Saint Avold, a rather large city close to the german border. We entered our forst large city by a small road and found a supermarket. So far so good. But to leave the city again, that was a problem. The roadsigns were ment for cars and soon we rode along very large roads, not fully sure we were going the right way. Finally we found that we were on the right way and followed that road out of Saint Avold. The next campsite now was still rather far away - it wasn't realy touristic here -. To get to the campsite fast we took a not so interresting route, the land now was only slightly hilly and no woods. The last few kilometers were better again, we entered the valley fo the Sarre. The campsite was on the bank of the canal along the Sarre. We put up our tents on a lonely hill between to small lakes and life was good.
Volstroff - Harskirchen

1998-07-17 Mountains!

We started out along the beautifull canal along the Sarre, coudly sun, soft breeze, water, good cyclepath, wondering what foul build this canal. After a while we went inland and rode started looking for a baker, but in the small village none was found. So we were forced to go to Sarrebourg, a small town. As we almost ran out of fuel for our burner I also had had to buy one and a half liter of white gas: Je voulez une et demi litre du sans plomp, c'est un problem? no it was wasn't altough I got some really strange faces looking while I was filling my bottles. With a the stock refilled we now headed for the first mountains: Col du Donon (1009 m). The sun was shining and the climb hot but worth it. At half past four we reached the Col. After going one must always go down and this time to Rothau were we put our tent at "le camping municipal"
Harskirchen - Rothau

1998-07-18 Route des Crêtes

Rothau - Lautenbach

1998-07-19 Relaxing in the french vogses

Lautenbach

1998-07-20 Hot and Tiring

Lautenbach - Saint Hippolyte

1998-07-21 Swiss

Saint Hippolyte - Orbe

1998-07-22 High speed

Orbe - Annecy

1998-07-23 The target is closing

Annecy - Villete

1998-07-24 In the Alps

Villete

1998-07-25 On our way back home

Villete - Annecy

1998-07-26 Changing the route

Annecy - Dortan

1998-07-27 Rain and Rest

Dortan

1998-07-28 Heading home through beautiful france

After a day of rest we headed straight north. The energy spared the previous day was well spend: at high speeds we rode along the Lac-de-Vouglans and the following woods. The route was rather flat and we made good progress. The way down at the Cirque du fer a Cheval near Arbois was breathtaking: fine looktroughs on the valley below. The other side of Arbois we cycled through some wine farming villages variing from wealth to very poor. The lanscape continued to be alternating woods and vineyards and some small rivers all combined in a sloping terrain. At three we had already cycled a hunderd kilometres and we decided to go to the campsite at Emangy, another fifty kilometres. Mainly because in between there were no campsites at all. This appeared to be still rather far, as the last twenty kilometres were very long. But we made it and enjoyed our beds.
Dortan - Emangy

1998-07-29 The Saône and more

This day started as the previous one had ended, except for the legs. Sloping landscape with woods alternating fields and meddows. At Traves we entered the valley of the Saône. Even this far inland the Saône is a wide, slow river and the valley is ideal for cycling. Which was proven by a lot of oncoming cyclers. A dutch cycling route followed the same route here... At Scey we had bad luck one of the few coulds decided to empty himself over our heads. We left the valley of the Saône at Corre. We followed the Canale d'est Branche sud. This very small channell took us Fontenoy-le-Chatau, where we found our second road of cobble stones. The day ended in Bains-les-Bains, famous for it's healing water from the wells around it. The village is filled with fancy hotels and the wealth of the place is in large contrast with the neighboring places. The campsite appeared not so easy not find. I think it was a bit below their position. But it was a very neat terrain, we looked out over a meddow surrounded by woods and life was good.
Emangy - Bains-les-Bains

1998-07-30 Another river: the Mosselle

Today, the route was not an easy one, we could chose between hills and small roads or along Mosselle, but with a larger road. The final route was a compromise. We started out, after some shopping in Bains-les-Bains, over small roads, partly following the channel of yesterday. At Void-de-Girancourt we went up to go the the valley of the mosselle. These were all small roads at the map, but at Uxegney there was this sign "derivation" and "passé impossible". So we had no chose but to take the large and busy road down to Thaon. At Thaon the road became smaller and there was less traffic. It was also flat so we made good progress. We went for the hills again at Gripport, taking the small roads to the beautifull village of Haroué. This village has a large castle and the other parts of the village are in the same style. After some ohhh and ahh's we went futher, going around the large city of Nancy. East of Nancy is a large hill, almost uninhabited and covered with woods. Quiet and peacefull, for one thing: the large motorway north-south goes straight trought this wood. I had driven there lots of times with parents going to or fro a holiday. There is also a very small road perpendicular to this motorway. We took this small road which starts in Chaligny. It's hard to find and very-very steep, but once up, it's the nice and peacefull road it promissed to be, trough the woods, almost no cars, sun going down. That evening we put our tent up at Liverdun, a campsite where the number of dutch people was at 'normal' level(1:1 with other nationalities, france is a populair country for holidays in the Netherlands.)
Bains-les-Bains - Liverdun

1998-07-31 Bye, Bye, France

Luxembourg was the destination for today. But before we got there, we had to go along the not-so-beautifull/dull area west of Metz and Thionville. The first few kilometres we had an escape from the large roads and the land appeared to be lovely: we rode through the outmost corner of the "Parc naturel regional de Lorraine". But the change to the expected land came as soon as we reentered the mossellevalley. Time to make some speed and at a kilometre of 30 per hour we sped through the industrial area's. At Ars-sur-Mosselle we reentered the parc naturel at the other corner. But again the joy didn't last long: The city of Ste-marie-aux-chenes was a dirty, half-deserted place. Here there were trafficlights etc. so we got slowly past these villages, to be completly surprised by the beauty of the valley thereafter. The road to Briey appeared to be going through a rather steep valley, so here there was no room for all kinds of dirty buildings. At Briey the route went up to the plateau and along a "route national" that was rather boring.
Liverdun - Steinfort