Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Southern LF3 Route: Grevenblicht > Roermond > Velden > Afferden > Nijmegen

Five wonderful days riding the LF3 route in the Maas valley.

Weather has been good to great. Two days were t-shirt and shorts cycling, others only added a light fleece. Rain jacket is somewhere way down in the bottom of the pack... but I can get to it fast in a pinch if needed! I'm told weather is going to get cooler, cloudier, but little or no rain expected next couple days. Haven't seen a long-term forecast myself -- internet connections have been hard to find in the country.

On the Velden to Afferden day... weather was good, but with constant, heavy headwind. Didn't really need a map. If someone had told me in the morning "at any intersection, just take the road that leads most directly into the wind and you can't miss Afferden", navigation would have been simple. Wind was steady from the NNW. I was riding up from the SSE. Would have gladly traded wheels for a motorcycle. Wind calmed down the next day.

Used GPS map system for the first couple days, then began just following the LF3 and Knooppunt route signage and winging it. Very liberating feeling! The signage is mostly great, but you do find a junction now and then where the "which way?" answer is absolutely unclear. Guess wrong, and the worst that can happen (so far) is that you get to ride a few extra miles until you realize and can sort out the mistake. My sense right now is that you cannot get truly lost in the Netherlands. You can get badly confused, but not truly lost.

Nice to see Nijmegen again, without the pouring rain. Oldest city in Netherlands, and a good one for walking. Had an interesting conversation with waiter at neighborhood cafe last night. He understood 'footloose fietser' concept immediately, said the Dutch have a word for it -- just seeing what the day brings. Learning Dutch bit by bit -- previous nights host taught me the Dutch equivalent of carpe diem: pluk de dag, which is pronounced more or less like "pluck the duck". At this rate, I'd be fluent in 50 years more or less.

I was so eager to ride LF3 route that I left Maastricht too soon -- everyone I talk with seems to agree on this! So I'm going to head back, either today or tomorrow, and spend a few days enjoying the city, doing bike day-trips from there, and taking advantage of Rogier's advice. Will take the train back to Maastricht from Nijmegen. It is going to feel strange to cover in just a few hours a distance that took me five days cycling!

Maastrict > Grevenblicht ~50km
Grevenblicht > Roermond 48km
Roermond > Velden 52km
Velden > Afferden 59km
Afferden > Nijmegen 51km

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