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Getting ready for a family cycling holiday to Holland
It’s been a while since my last blog on our impeding Dutch adventure. There might have been silence on the website but there has been lots of action going on in our house! It is now only two weeks until 2 families, including 4 children aged 7 and under, escape across the North Sea on the overnight ferry for a family cycling holiday to Holland. We're going for 5 days with just our bikes in tow.
The occasion for this Easter family cycling holiday is my 40th birthday, and our destination is Zeeland, the westernmost province of the Netherlands which is very flat making it ideal terrain for family biking.
With the ferries and accommodation booked all that was left to do was to work out what gear we needed to take for an Easter getaway and hence what we needed to beg, borrow, steal or other. The kit collection is now in full swing!
How will a 4 year old cope with a cycling holiday to Holland?
The first main question is how would our girls, age 4 and 7, cycle? Both of them have bikes and are capable of cycling a few miles with plenty of stops (!) but we definitely needed some assistance for Lucy, the youngest. So we dusted off of our Trailgator bicycle tow bar, which had belonged to the girls’ cousin. As we had not used it before, a test run was definitely required. I stayed at a safe distance on the pavement whilst I watched the trailgator, which attaches Lucy's bike to Dad's bike, heading off sideways down the road! After a few laps around the block Dad and Lucy had this new method of transport down to a fine art and Lucy loved the Trailgator despite the shaky start! We have a couple more weekends of practice left and I think we should then be confident with this as our Plan B. Plan A would be Lucy under her own steam, preferably with the wind behind us all.
It will be lucky me who has responsibility for ‘trailer towing’. This means pulling all the kit for 4 of us for 5 nights (I think this is preferable to towing Lucy across Holland). Thank goodness we aren’t camping! There is one certainty - we will definitely be travelling light as I will be packing! However, the slight hitch at this point is that we do not have a cycle trailer - we are eagerly awaiting its delivery as I type. Look out for the review of the Bumper Trailer Adventure Duo on Cycle Sprog in due course.
Help! - Adult bikes needed....
Now to pull both the bike trailer and the Trailgator we need 2 robust bikes. There was a slight problem here, because our bikes are not really suitable for towing 4 year olds on towbars or for pulling trailers for any length of time.
You may be wondering why we actually decided this trip was a good idea at all?!
My husband, Ian, was discussing our Dutch plans with our friend Karl, himself a keen cyclist, and Karl kindly offered to lend us their mountain bikes for our trip. We were hesitant at first because Karl’s’ wife, Helen, had sadly lost her life to cancer only last year. Helen, along with 13 other ‘Mums on bikes’ had planned to cycle 300km around Holland over 3 days last June to raise money for women’s cancer charities. Unfortunately, Helen passed away the week before the trip...the other Mums continued and raised over £10,000. After my initial reservations, I thought it very fitting that Helen’s bike, with me in the saddle, would indeed go to Holland and was very touched that Karl should offer me the opportunity. The trip suddenly means a lot more to me.
Maps for our family cycling holiday to Holland
So, with bikes, trailers and tow bars at the ready, we just need to know where we were going, ah, yes, maps! There seems to be very few places that sell the ANWB 1:50,000 cycle maps of Holland but I discovered a great map shop (called The Map Shop) based in Upton-upon-Severn (through internet search) that had the 2 maps that we needed. The telephone service was excellent and the maps arrived the next day-perfect!
I was feeling pretty confident that we had most of our gear coming together and then I went through the ‘kit list’ with Kathryn (who, along with her family, make up the other half of our holiday party). Not one set of thermals required for the girls but two!! I think I was in the frame of mind that it can’t possibly be that cold! OK, I agree...off out to the shops again for more thermals. It must be a good sign that we are on the right side of winter as they had all been packed away ‘upstairs’. We were in luck as they had the right sizes so we will be really toasty now.
So with 2 weekends to go until Holland we are off to the Peak district this weekend with the girls, bikes, towbar, thermals and waterproofs where I am sure there will be time for a spin or two along the Tissington trail during our family weekend away -and it’s going to be wet! Let’s just hope that is not something we need to be getting used to.
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