Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 71--Finding the Hovenring...

...With the help of Mariella and Daniella. But, I'll get to that in a moment.

I left Beekse Bergen Safaricamp before most were awake. By the time I left the park, I had gone 3 miles! Like I said, it's a big place. In looking at my map, I realized I didn't have to go all the way into Hilvarenbeek. I have to say, the map I bought in Rotterdam has been invaluable! Basically, I just have to connect the route number dots. Since the signs are very good, it's pretty easy. 

This morning I was on the Van Gogh Route (in addition to it also being 25, as you can see by the sign below). As an aside, if I hadn't wanted to go to the Hovenring, I could have just stayed on LF13a. But, my second objective (after the Heinenoord Tunnel) was to ride on the Hovenring.

Anyway, back to Van Gogh. One would expect to see sunflowers on a route named Van Gogh. Here are the sunflowers I saw.
See? There's one!
Here's a little strip of them.

However, I did go by lots and lots of corn. Maybe this is Van Gogh's little known "Corn" period.
I'll have to look to see if he did some Corn paintings...because I sure didn't see many sunflowers!

Later, I came to an intersection, and I wasn't sure which way to go (one of the few times). About that time, four older guys (like 70s) came by on road bikes. I started to ask if they knew which way, but they rode by. Then they stopped and one guy came back. They said the way to go was the way they were going, and they would keep me with them. They asked what my average speed was. At that point, it was 10.7mph. But, I told them I could go faster than that. So we took off. Not only was I able to keep up, but I told them they could go faster if they wanted. I was even able to get a photo of the two guys in front of me.
I think the way they went was probably a bit longer, but it was faster with me drafting, and it was fun to ride with them. At one point we made a turn. The one guy said if I wanted to go slower, I just had to stay on the road I was on until the end. I said I was doing fine. I stayed with them until they stopped for a break. By then, I was on the way I needed to go, so I continued. I told them I felt like a donkey amongst 4 racehorses. I did confess that I race at home, so I'm used to riding in a group.

I continued to connect the dots. As I got closer to Eindhoven, I started to wonder if I would find the Hovenring. I thought I might see route signs (like for the Heinenoord), but I didn't. I was following Route 18. At one point, it turned. I stopped just as a gal came around the corner with her dog. I asked her if she knew where the Hovenring was. She did, but it was difficult to give directions because the roundabouts had tricky turns. She said her aunt could look on the computer, and her house was not far. So, we went to her house. On the way, I asked her name. It was Mariella. I told her I knew another Mariella (Christian's granddaughter), but she was younger. This Mariella is 26 (same age as my oldest son). As we were walking, I asked Mariella if she had time, could she ride with me to the Hovenring (or close enough so I could get there)? She said she could do that. 

We took the dog back to the house. I met her aunt, and her cousin, Daniella (on holiday from Taiwan). Mariella asked Daniella if she would like to go with us. Daniella didn't look so sure. Then I asked if she would like to come show an American the Hovenring. It would not be something one gets to do everyday! She agreed to come. The three of us set off. It really wasn't too far, but Mariella was right, there were some tricky turns that I'm sure I would not have done correctly.

They took me within view, and I thanked them and took their photo.
Daniella and Mariella (thanks again!)

And there it was, the Hovenring!!! 

It's called the Hovenring because it is above the intersection for the towns of Eindhoven, Veldhoven, and Meerhoven. I rode around it twice (probably would have done more, but I knew I had at least another 50 miles to go today). It's really quite cool, and I think it is lit at night. Curiously, Route 18 did lead to the Hovenring. But it was more fun riding there with Mariella and Daniella! 

The next route number I needed was right on the other exit toward Eindhoven. I, again, connected the dots to make my way through the rather large city of Eindhoven. At one point I was getting a little worried. I seemed to be doing a lot of snaking around. But, it all worked out, and I made it through without a single wrong turn!

I was back out in the countryside. I tried to take a short cut to Lierop, and it may have actually been shorter, but I had to ask the way a couple of times. One guy I asked was from England. His name was Owen. He took my picture. He was all kitted out. It seemed like there was a race or something going on. I had seen other cyclists with a follow-car. And it looked like there were corner marshalls. Anyway, after Owen's directions, I was back on LF13a. I could stay on this all the way to Venlo.

Here's part of LF13a. It's not all pavement!

As I got closer to Venlo, I asked the Garmin for camping. There was a place nearby. It's a small farm camping place. The gal said they don't get any people other than Dutch here. It's quite nice and only cost 7.50€!

Oh, on the way here, about 100 kids on bikes went by. Most had orange caps on.
I didn't get a chance to ask what they were.

Tonight is my last night in Holland. I can see why it is used as a model for exemplary cycling infrastructure.

Total miles today: 73 (but, you know, they're all flat)

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