Little did we know when we brought forward our annual north sea ferry weekend by one week that it would in fact be the last opportunity for ‘non-essential’ travel before COVID-19 struck. How fortunate we were! 8 of us enjoyed a great weekend of riding and socialising. Thanks to Ben, Charles, Clare, Mark, Matt, Pete, Richard and Stephen for playing their part in what’s becoming a staple in the Rouleurs’ calendar… our very own ‘Spring Classic’! As per last year, we departed from Holgate Windmill at 10am. Starting off on the ‘Planets’ cycle track we were soon in Escrick and then enjoying the quiet lanes south of Bubwith. Skirting around Howden and through Goole, our target was lunch in Crowle. We hit upon a great lunch spot at Sadie’s Tea Room, after which a team effort sorted out the only ‘flat’ of the weekend and we were soon on our way again. Route planning by Stephen would not be complete without a couple of true ‘spring classic’ style sections - first through ‘Goole fields’ (literally) and then a beautiful section along the tow path of the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. The climb up out of Horkstow was well worth the effort to get a view of the Humber Bridge, which we were soon crossing. With the Ouse, Trent and Humber bridges all ticked off we had time for cake at the bike friendly Black Cat cafe in Hessle. Then followed a white-knuckle ride through the streets of Hull and straight on board the ferry. After a few beers, pizza and some good chat we all retired to our cabins ready for the next day’s riding. Brightness greeted our arrival at Europoort on Sunday morning. The fortified town of Brielle was quite the start to our Dutch adventure - deserving of a gentle roll through to fully appreciate the surroundings. Next came the shortest ferry crossing imaginable - the length of the boat almost spanning the width of the river! Then came what we hoped would be some sort of river crossing, but was indeterminate from the Google Earth map. Fortunately we caught up with a couple of Dutch locals who helped us to navigate firstly a bike lift,
then a dedicated cycle tunnel beneath the river at Heinenoord. Oh what an impressive Dutch cycling infrastructure! After a lunch stop at Het Spuiveld we reached our target - the Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site - 19 iconic 18th century windmills. Then followed a nervous wait for the WaterBus to take us across the river for an approach, from the east, into Rotterdam. Bram’s Gourmet Frites kiosk opposite the Feijenoord Stadium was the next essential stop, where (literally) bucket loads of delicious Dutch frites were enjoyed! A quick visit to the waterfront in Rotterdam brought a final cafe stop at Loetje where the group debated whether we had a 25km or 25mile return to the ferry. Setting off, hoping for the former but fearing the latter, it was head down on the wonderful wide, smooth cycle tracks for a nail-biting chain-gang back to the ferry… reaching the top of the 11% embarkation ramp with 4 minutes to spare…what was the rush? Heading straight to the ‘Rouleurs booth’ in the Sky Lounge we enjoyed some essential post-ride debriefing over drinks as we enjoyed a sunset departure. Stats for the day… no punctures or mechanicals, 27 windmills (but no fan tails), 3 cafe stops, 2 internal ferries, one bike lift, one bike tunnel and an unimaginable number of frites consumed! As for everything else, you’ve heard the saying: ‘what happens on tour, stays on tour!’ Be there next year to find out for yourself! Arriving into Hull at 7.30am allowed an early departure back to York. A broken spoke just outside Beverley couldn’t have been more timely, in that while the bike was fixed at a local bike shop we enjoyed a multi-course breakfast at Cafe V. Riding back over the Wolds we enjoyed glorious sunshine. Those of us on a tighter schedule filtered off home, while a group of us enjoyed a couple of drinks at the Angel. As for when the next such public social interaction will be possible is anyone’s guess. But, it’s certainly a small price to pay in order to ensure as many people as possible stay safe.