Le Grand Tour: T – 1 Week – The Calm Before The Sun, Hopefully


Now getting to the pointy end of the planning. Just a week to go before I set off on the ferry from Hull, destination Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany and a return to The Netherlands and Rotterdam in early September. My mind has been on other things this week as I’ve been away for a few days, not on the bike, but with 120 12-year-old pupils on a school trip to the YHA hostel near Ambleside on the shores of Lake Windermere. An idyllic location. Well, it was before we arrived in our two coaches. The peace was somewhat disturbed by the inevitable noise but everything went to plan, including the weather which was sublime (until Thursday evening when it decided to chuck it down…)

Those 120 children were behind the camera…

The big news this week is that, after a somewhat nervous wait for news from the bike shop in Tadcaster, the service of Wanda, my Koga WorldTraveller bicycle was completed last weekend. If you remember I had dropped the bike off at the end of my cycle along The Way of the Roses in late May but, as I suspected, both of the rotor blades needed replacing. Not in itself a big job but locating a rear rotor that would fit on the Rohloff hub was proving problematic. However, last Saturday I received a call and, with the help of good friend Craig – who has a bike rack for the back of his car – I was able to travel back to Tadcaster on Monday evening to pick up Wanda. She is now awaiting being loaded and ridden off in the direction of Halifax train station next Saturday afternoon…

Other, administrative issues have also now been sorted, notably the travel insurance. I discussed the options available to me in a previous post and in the end I went for a policy from Adventures ‘Specialist Sports and Activities Travel Insurance’ that has set me back around ยฃ125. It was described by the website as ‘the most comprehensive and best value option out there for cycle tours of 6 months or less‘. Here’s hoping that I never have to mention it again.

Such is the proximity of the trip that I can now start to keep a meaningful eye on the weather forecast. If I were setting off today, I might be a little concerned about getting wet. Here are a selection of destinations along the route of my Grand Tour, courtesy of the BBC Weather site:

…but focussing in on Rotterdam, it looks somewhat drier for next weekend.

Although specific to the United Kingdom, this is the BBC weather outlook for the first half of July which looks generally promising:

Monday 4 Julyย โ€“ย Sunday 17 July

High pressure at first, but then turning unsettled

Through the first full week of July, models favour high pressure to be located over the North Atlantic and extending over the United Kingdom. Much of the UK is likely to see spells of drier and calmer conditions, whilst Scotland may see some windier and wetter days as low-pressure systems look likely to move near Iceland and Scandinavia. Temperatures look likely to be near average with extreme temperatures quite unlikely.

Confidence is quite low through the second full week of July. Near-average temperatures are favoured for all regions and low pressure is most likely to dominate the north-east Atlantic. This will mean wetter and windier days in Northern Ireland and Scotland with the best of the drier weather for England and Wales.

Alternatively, there are signals within the models for the high pressure ridge to persist through this week. This will keep conditions more settled for much of the UK and generally warmer further south and west.

I think I mentioned in one of the previous posts that I had identified a campsite in The Netherlands – around 45km from Rotterdam – for the first night of the trip. It’s called Camping-Zuidhoek and looks tailor-made for cycle campers but my attempts to find a Warmshowers host for the second night have so far been rebuffed. I’ll keep trying. It could be second night under canvas. No problem with that. I’ll aim to arrive in France by Friday 8th July at the latest, catch the train to Boulogne and keep cycling from there to Dieppe and then Paris… More details of the route plans here.

So the bike is ready, the kit assembled (although not packed), the accommodation at least thought about for the first couple of days, the insurance purchased. What have I forgotten? Cycle touring is all about simplicity. Perhaps I should leave it there. I finish work for the summer on Thursday so have Friday to sort out any last-minute bits and pieces then off on Saturday lunchtime on the train to Hull. There are direct trains heading east at 20 past each even hour throughout the day… Just need to shake off this cold that has been developing for several days. I won’t mention the C word…


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7 replies »

  1. Myself and my son are taking off for a mino cycle trip to The Netherlands on July 2 as well! We are heading from Harwich on the overnight ferry to Hoek Van Holland. Our nautical paths may cross! Have a great trip and cannot wait to hear about your adventures. All the best, Shaun (exiled Sheffielder living in Essex!).

  2. We never plan accommodation more than a day in advance and havenโ€™t come unstuck yet. A guy at a campsite in Wales recently stayed up so we could camp arriving at 11.30pm after getting off the ferry almost last. Go with the flow.

  3. Brilliant I’m also excited for you it doesn’t be long coming around roll on next week

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