We finished! Grey, drizzly and windy day for the finish, alas, with full-on rain later. Winding our way out of Rotterdam was slow and made me very glad we didn’t try to finish the previous evening when we would have been tired and hungry. Eventually reached Hook of Holland and cycled out to the end of the breakwater for the obligatory photo before looking for some lunch.
It all felt a little anti-climactic, probably due to the weather, and the fact that we knew we needed to cycle on again in the afternoon. The original plan had been to cycle up the Dutch coast if we had time at the end, but the weather was not encouraging so a rail option seemed preferable. We have picked a bad year to do this trip: the railway station in Hook of Holland is being turned into a metro station on the Rotterdam network so is closed and there is currently a replacement bus – which doesn’t take bikes. The nearest sensible station was in The Hague so we made our way there. That involved heading north into the – yes, you guessed it – northerly wind. And the rain decided to get heavier at that stage also.
When we eventually arrived in Haarlem, cycled to the hotel and got ourselves warm once again, I finally started to feel the pleasure of having completed the Rhine route. It had a lot of variety and made a fantastic holiday as well as cycle route. Definitely would recommend it, but if anyone is planning to try it, I would suggest a bike with a bit of suspension and decently wide tyres, as some of the surfaces have been rather hard going on a touring bike designed mainly for the road. I would also suggest packing less than I have been carrying. That said, there were people touring light on road bikes who seemed to be managing just fine on all the surfaces, and some people with far bulkier and heavier luggage than ours.
A few stats just to round the thing off.
Total distance on Rhine route (our version – not counting travel out and back, sight-seeing, laundry trip, etc): 1419 km or 882 miles
Total time for Rhine route: 21 days cycling plus 3 rest/sight-seeing days
Border crossings: no idea – lost count
If anyone else is planning to cycle the Rhine, I should also say that there are many small variations on the route. The Cicerone guide book was very useful, but suggests a different version to the EuroVelo map and signposting. If you try to follow either closely you will find occasional changes and diversions along the way, so there is an element of making it up as you go along. The guide book and other sources suggest that you only need two weeks to complete the route – this is true, but would mean little time to explore along the way, and there is plenty worth seeing. Even taking more than three weeks, I feel we only skimmed the surface. But that fortunately just means places to come back to on another trip!